Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

(Special Report) Eutelsat market to shrink in Nigeria as MutliChoice weighs NBC policy

Whereas a recent comprehensive study of satellite television reception in select African countries places Eutelsat as market leader in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, there are strong indications that its reign may fade in Nigeria from March next year.

This is coming from discoveries that MutliChoice, its leading licencee in Nigeria is still said to be studying latest policy of the regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) which has advised MultiChoice to align with new terms and conditions for renewing its DTT licence by 2019 when it will expire.

However, there are policy changes now coming with the renewal of the DTT licences which NBC has explained saying that the terms and conditions of the licence will not be the same anymore in line with government white paper on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

According to NBC, GOtv, which is a subsidiary of MultiChoice, has the DTT licence and that Pinnacle Communications and ITS, which are licensed signal distributors with the DTT licence. The Commission averred that at the expiration of GOtv licence in 2019, it has the opportunity to renew the licence but that the terms and conditions of the licence will change and may not permit GOtv to distribute digital signals anymore, hence the advice that it should open discussions with any of the two the existing licensed signal distributors on how best they could distribute their signals.

The NBC had in 2014, licensed MultiChoice and Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) as pay Terrestrial Television (DTT) operators to provide digital contents as well as distribute digital signals. They were licensed as both content providers and signal distributors, to speed up the process of Digital Switchover (DSO) until when the White Paper emerged, limiting signal distributors to only two.

Already, industry analysts have hailed NBC for the strategic policy change which they described as being in line with the spirit of DSO campaign of the federal government.

According to them, there is no way a player can be a content provider and at the same time, be a signal distributor as the mix will spell doom for other investors in the broadcast industry.

NBC Africast 2018 remarks
Director General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, presenting his remarks at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Africast summit in Abuja recently. Photo: Business Hilights

In line with the scenario, it is now clear that if MutliChoice fails to align with the White Paper, it means that the days of satellite television reception which has been the dominant technology in Nigeria reaching 41% (10.3 million households) may end by March 2019.

A new report released by Eutelsat at the ongoing AfricaCom in Capetown, South Africa showed that currently, Eutelsat has the highest combined reach across the Nigerian market between its 3 positions, 36° East, 7° East and 16° East. Over 5M households in Nigeria (one out of two DTH households) point towards a Eutelsat position.

Eutelsat’s 36° East neighbourhood is Nigeria’s leading Pay-TV position, reaching 1.3M households. It hosts DSTV, the leading satellite Pay-TV platform in the region and groups together around 400 channels including 43 channels in HD accessible throughout region and includes top most watched channels in Nigeria such as AIT International, CNN International, Silverbird TV and Zee World.

Eutelsat’s 16° East neighbourhood is a leading free-to-air position reaching a total of 2.2M households and offers a diverse line-up of popular Nigerian channels such as CRTV, Channel TV and Silverbird TV, local content specifically popular to the Hausa community; My TV Hausa and Alwilayah TV Hausa, as well as international channels such as Aljazeera, France 24.

Eutelsat’s 7°East neighbourhood has a reach of 1.4M households in Nigeria, mainly catering to English-speaking locals, with Channel TV, TVC News Nigeria and international content such as CNN, Fox, BBC World news, Bloomberg TV Africa, CNBC Africa and Al Jazeera.

According to study findings, the need for HD is rising in Sub-Saharan Africa with a growing demand for HD content specifically in Pay-TV.  This is coupled with a rise in the affordability of equipment such as televisions and set-top-boxes. The number of HDTV equipped households is already sizeable: in Nigeria 9.5 million (38%) households were identified to be HDTV compatible homes, 0.9 million (18%) in Cameroon and 0.5 million (22%) in Ivory Coast.