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Pay TV competition hots up

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st August 2007 03:00 AM

HUNDREDS of soccer-fans who have signed up for GTV because of its ownership of majority rights to show the popular English Premier League have forced Multichoice to go on the defensive.

HUNDREDS of soccer-fans who have signed up for GTV because of its ownership of majority rights to show the popular English Premier League have forced Multichoice to go on the defensive.

By James Odomel

HUNDREDS of soccer-fans who have signed up for GTV because of its ownership of majority rights to show the popular English Premier League have forced Multichoice to go on the defensive.
GTV’s three-year contract permits it to air 80% of the Premiership matches under an arrangement that will soon see MultiChoice’s DStv left with access to only middle-table matches.

“Out of every 10 games every weekend, GTV will have the top eight and DStv the remaining two. At the moment, you may be able to watch the big four on DStv because all teams are on zero points and therefore have an equal chance of winning the championship,” GTV’s sales and marketing manager Peter Mungoma explained.

Mungoma, however, said that when the players start scoring goals and the teams start getting points, the Football Association (FA) would decide the top eight games of the week, which would be aired by GTV.

The top eight games will be those that determine top of the table rankings, qualification for Europe and relegation.

DStv has exclusive rights to 20% of the games (about 60 matches), while 10% of the games (about 30 matches) are for Free-To-Air stations like Nation TV.

MultiChoice’s general manager Charles Hamya told a press conference last week that winning rights to air the Premiership would have led to raising of subscription fees.

“We previously had 100% rights but after the contract ran out, we and all other networks were supposed to bid again. Whoever raised the biggest amount of money took the majority of the rights. To get the majority rights, MultiChoice would have needed to pay five times more than our previous contract with the Premier League. This would have meant a probable increase in the subscription fee,” Hamya explained.

He added that the Premiership telecast rights had been so competitive that even networks such as Sky TV and BBC don’t have 100% rights.

However, Hamya said MultiChoice would air big and small games. “I know most people want to see the big teams. Last weekend, we could only show Chelsea in the two games we showed, ” he said.

“DStv has the UEFA Champions League, Carling Cup, FA Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, UEFA Cup, European Qualifiers, CAF Champions League, and French Ligue 1 where most Africans play, Portuguese Super Liga and the Spanish La Liga,” Hamya said.

To counter the new entrant, DStv is slashing prices of its services, while bankrolling a more aggressive marketing drive that emphasises its wider programme offerings.

MultiChoice started cutting installation fees since last year. The price of a DStv dish and decoder reduced from sh610,000 to sh499,000. It further dropped to sh379,000 early this year before settling at sh279,000 now.

MultiChoice also charges a subscription fee of $69 (sh116,000) per month for its Premium Bouquet of more than 50 channels and $25 (sh42,500) per month for its Compact Bouquet, which has 24 channels.

GTV charges sh350,000 for installation, then sh45,000 per month for its G-Base, which has 12 channels.

Two weeks into the new English league season, DStv has only aired four out of the 20 matches played.

Bar-owners have been most hit by the new developments and many have added GTV service to their DStv subscription.

“My problem is that I have to pay for a new pay service for only soccer while I maintain DStv for the rest of the week. That is very inefficient… with time one will have to probably go back to DStv,” a bar-owner in Bweyogerere lamented.

A source close to GTV said the company recognises that the current demand is being driven by soccer and they would have to offer more programmes in order to match DStv’s rich bouquet.

“The truth is; this is not sustainable. What happens when they have got all the soccer-lovers then what?” the source asked.

Pay TV competition hots up

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