Dear Nigerians, don't be in such a hurry to embrace TSTV. Ask tough questions.
I get it.
DSTV has enjoyed a monopoly in Nigeria that borders on insanity. The prices for its various bouquets keep skyrocketing by the day. When it rains, you can’t watch your hard-earned cable television because it will remain scrambled until the sun comes up. But that doesn’t mean your subscription halts. Because on DSTV, your subscription continues running whether you watch the darn TV or not.
It’s madness. I totally get it.
Heaven knows I'm sick and tired of DSTV. When you've been in an abusive relationship with DSTV for this long, the default is to embrace the next new alternative.
And here comes TSTV (TELCOMS Satellite Television) with mouthwatering offers. Subscription could be as low as N200 on TSTV. If you subscribe on TSTV for N3,000, you have access to more than 100 channels and you get internet data for your troubles.
The TSTV smart top boxes come with video calls, 500GB hard drive, capacity to pause subscriptions for seven days, pay-as-you-consume TV service, 20GB of internet data, record and playback feature and much more.
In other words, TSTV is smart cable, Direct To Home (DTH) television, home theater, laptop and workstation all rolled into one. On the surface, this is as good as it gets in the smart television age.
According to TSTV’s CEO Bright Echefu, for the first time, Nigerians could now enjoy Pay Per View because with TSTV, “subscription runs as you watch and it has the facility to pause your subscription when you travel”.
What’s there not to love about TSTV?
But here’s what worries me. HiTV arrived the market with this much buzz and promise a couple of years ago. Today, its Ebute Metta office in Lagos has been ceded to rodents and roaches because it had no sustainable business model. Nigerians have to scrutinize TSTV for all it’s worth and be sure they aren’t being sold another dummy.
Are all of TSTV’s contents going to be served in English and indigenous Nigerian languages? Is TSTV really paying content providers with its cheap subscription rates? Do they really have the right to air games of the top football leagues in Europe? Has anyone even tried to see the quality of TSTV pictures yet?
Some have argued that because TSTV is Nigeria owned, we should embrace and support without asking questions.
Minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who launched TSTV this week said; “It is a great opportunity for me to be the one to unveil TSTV because just like a Nigerian made history by crashing the cost of telephony in Nigeria, I am glad that another Nigerian is now coming forward to crash the cost of Pay TV”.
The federal government has also handed the new pay TV operator in the country, a three-year tax holiday.
I am of the opinion that TSTV shouldn’t be given a free pass and should be made to earn subscriber loyalty through the quality of its services. TSTV should also be held to its promises like every other business. Are all those mouth-watering promises really true? Are we going to get into a scenario where, three months hence, TSTV finds out it can’t cope with its cheap subscription and jacks up the price? Are all these TSTV goodies mere entry-level freebies that become extinct once TSTV has all of us in its back pocket?
Because, let's face it, doing business in Nigeria is pretty tough. There's plenty of overhead cost going into that bottomline.
For TSTV, the test of the pudding should be in the eating.
Like all Nigerians, I have long yearned for a democratisation and liberalisation of the cable TV market in Africa’s most populous country. DSTV was allowed to get away with murder because it was all we had.
I’m hoping that TSTV gives DSTV a run for its money by earning its own right to play.
All that TSTV red carpet I’ve seen in the social media for two weeks now, puts me off. Let's take it one step at a time with these new guys.