The rising cost of cable TV in Africa versus the decreasing income of subscribers

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Comparing African cable TV providers: Rising costs in Nigeria and beyond

TV has always being an integral part of modern life. So important has it been that everyone has their favourite shows, and favourite time they spend watching the TV. Children are always eager to catch up on their favourite programs provided by different African cable TV providers. Men looked forward to their news and sporting shows while women looked forward to entertainment and lifestyle. In a nutshell, watching TV was, and still is the ultimate pastime.

Despite international streaming platforms changing the game, African cable TV remains popular. Business Day reports that over 12 million Africans subscribe to Multichoice’s offerings; DStv and GoTV, which offer tailored content to users. Their independence from internet connectivity makes them a preferred choice, particularly in regions with unstable internet access and lower digital penetration.

But as these providers continue to grow and expand, the rising cost of subscriptions has continued to bother users. This is because a fair percentage of the working population earns minimum wage, which is not enough to cover the standard of living in the countries they reside.

For instance, the DStv Premium bouquet is arguably Africa’s best Cable TV offering. It costs ₦24,500/month in Nigeria. While this may seem minuscule to privileged households, such expenditure is a heavy burden on Nigeria’s 62 million workers, the majority of whom earn a minimum wage of ₦30,000.

Read Also: Multichoice confirms Nigerians will pay more for DStv, GOtv subscription from May 1st

Price of cable tv in some African countries

Are you curious about how some of the most popular African cable TV providers stack up against each other regarding subscription plans? We’ve compiled a handy list of the top African cable TV providers that offer services in Nigeria, with details on their offerings and prices across different African countries.

DStv

Comparing African cable TV providers: Rising costs in Nigeria and beyond

The DStv premium package, which tends to be the most expensive, typically offers a range of 140+ to 175+ channels.

CountriesPremiumCompact+CompactFamilyAccessPadi/Lite
Nigeria₦24,500₦16,000₦10,500₦6,200₦3,500₦2,500
South
Africa
R879
(₦21,962)
R579
(₦14,467)
R449
(₦11,218)
R319
(₦7,970)
R129
(₦3,223)
R29
(₦724)
Kenya9,500KES (₦32,199)5,900KES (₦19,997)3,300KES (₦11,184)1,750KES (₦5,931)1,250KES (₦4,236)
GhanaGHS 510
(₦20,096)
GHS 325
(₦12,806)
GHS 220
(₦8,668)
GHS 110
(₦4,334)
GHS 60
(₦2,364)
GHS 45
(₦1,773)
Cameroon$82
(₦37,806)
$53
(₦24,435)
$25
(₦11,526)
$19
(₦8,760)
$12
(₦5,532)
Senegal$82
(₦37,806)
$53
(₦24,435)
$25
(₦11,526)
$19
(₦8,760)
$12
(₦5,532)
Ivory Coast$82
(₦37,806)
$53
(₦24,435)
$25
(₦11,526)
$19
(₦8,760)
$12
(₦5,532)
UgandaUGX 275,000
(₦34,030)
UGX 160,000
(₦19,780)
UGX 104,000
(₦12,980)
UGX 64,000
(₦7,920)
UGX 43,000
(₦5,430)
UGX 16,000
(₦1,980)
The conversion was done with WISE.com

GOtv

Comparing African cable TV providers: Rising costs in Nigeria and beyond

Even the priciest GOtv plan doesn’t reach the 100-channel mark, showcasing a significant difference from the extensive channel lineup offered by DStv. On the flip side, when it comes to subscription fees, GOtv tends to be more budget-friendly compared to DStv.

While GOtv’s availability across countries is narrower than DStv’s, the website states a presence in approximately nine African countries.

CountriesSupaMaxValue/JinjaPlus/JolliLite/Smallie
Nigeria₦6,400₦4,850₦2,250₦3,300₦1,100
GhanaGHS 130
(₦5,114)
GHS 105
(₦4,131)
GHS 30
(₦1,180)
GHS 60
(₦2,360)
GHS 17
(₦668)
Kenya1,749 KES
(₦5,900)
1,349 KES
(₦4,551)
649 KES
(₦2,190)
999 KES
(₦3,370)
199 KES
(₦671)
Uganda65,000 UGX
(₦8,043)
49,000 UGX
(₦6,063)
21,000 UGX
(₦2,600)
33,000 UGX
(₦4,083)
15,000 UGX
(₦1,856)
The conversion was done with WISE.com 

Startimes

A Chinese multinational media company owns this cable TV service. It has emerged as a strong contender in the battle for market share against the South African firm MultiChoice.

One of its notable strengths lies in its competitive pricing strategy, which has positioned it favourably to challenge DStv and attract loyal viewers. However, despite offering impressive channels such as E-Stars, Aljazeera, FRANCE 24, BBC World, CCTV, E! (Entertainment), Kidsco, Nickelodeon, Bollywood TV, Fox, and MGM, it still lacks a substantial number of channels that DStv provides.

Nevertheless, let’s detailly compare its services in Nigeria and other countries, examining its standing in the Nigerian market and beyond.

CountryStartimes NovaStartimes SmartStartimes SuperStartimes ChineseStartimes Special
Nigeria₦1,200₦2,800₦5,300₦9,800o
South AfricaR149
(₦3,730)
R230
(₦5,758)
R120
(₦3,004)
UgandaUGX 15,000
(₦1,848)
UGX 30,000
(₦3,697)
UGX 54,000
(₦6,655)
UGX 80,000
(₦9,860)
KenyaKES 499
(₦1,685)
KES 1,059
(₦3,577)
KES 1,599
(₦5,401)
KES 1,999
(₦6,753)
Ghana₵30
(₦1,182)
₵60
(₦2,364)
₵110
(₦4,334)
₵125
(₦4,925)
SenegalCFA 1,500
(₦1,163)
CFA 4,500
(₦3,489)
CFA 9,000
(₦6,978)
CFA 12,000
(₦9,304)
For Bouquets (Dish)

Nigeria is on the average side despite leading Multichoice subscribers’ numbers in Africa last year

This year, Multichoice sparked widespread discussions on social media due to their tariff plan increase in Nigeria and several other African countries. While the company attributed this decision to economic challenges, the number of subscribers does not significantly impact the subscription plans offered in each country.

According to a report by PrimeBusiness Africa, Multichoice experienced an impressive subscription growth in Nigeria last year. The country witnessed an 11% increase in Multichoice subscriptions year-on-year, with subscription revenue soaring by 43% in FY 2022.

These figures demonstrate that Nigeria outperformed other markets regarding subscription growth. Multichoice generated a substantial subscription revenue of $475.5 million from Nigeria alone in 2022, reflecting a 5% year-on-year increase.

In comparing the market trends of Kenya and Nigeria, Kenyans pay more in subscription costs than their Nigerian counterparts, particularly for Multichoice. Kenya’s market experienced a notable -4% drop in subscription growth compared to the previous year, despite witnessing a significant 9% increase in subscription revenue.

Moving beyond Kenya and Nigeria, Ghanaians appear to be among the countries paying the least for subscription plans on Multichoice and Startimes. On the other hand, Uganda stands out as one of the countries paying the most for Cable TV.

Of course, various factors might have contributed to the uneven distribution of subscription charges among these countries for each cable TV service provider, from market dynamics, operating costs, regulatory frameworks, licensing agreements, infrastructure development, and economic factors specific to each country.

However, how many workers can afford to pay for premium television content?

Subscription cost vs cost of living by country

When we look at the varying costs of subscriptions in each country, it becomes apparent that socio-economic conditions might play a role in shaping consumer behavior and preferences. These factors can include the overall cost of living, the average income levels, and even the ratio of minimum wages in different countries.

Photo Credit: The Star

The minimum wage per month in Kenya exceeds $100, specifically amounting to 15,120 Kenyan Shillings (KES). This implies that even if subscribers opt for the most expensive cable TV service, namely DStv Premium, their expenditure would only account for approximately 34% of their monthly income.

In contrast, Nigeria’s minimum wage stands at 30,000 Nigerian Naira. Nigerian subscribers who wish to access DStv premium content would need to allocate approximately 72% of their monthly income towards subscription expenses.

However, in Uganda, where the subscription packages are topping the charts as the most expensive, the minimum wage, according to public sources, is around UGX130,000 per month. This means DStv premium package costs nearly twice the minimum wage of the country.

In South Africa, subscription cost falls on the lower side. According to reports, the minimum wage in South Africa is approximately R25.42 per hour, i.e. with 20 working hours per week and 22 working days in a month; we arrive at an approximate total of R11,184.

Now, the DStv premium package accounts for only about 8% of the average user’s monthly salary, which means that South Africans can allocate a relatively small portion to their cable TV subscription.

Finally…

Despite these three cable TV service providers making waves today for Nigerian TV enthusiasts, a few notable players have made significant strides. However, it’s essential to acknowledge the absence of some former competitors. HITV, once a prominent cable TV provider serving the African continent, discontinued its services due to regulatory issues.

Similarly, Kwese TV, another major player, faced the repercussions of adverse economic policies, leading to its discontinuation. Nonetheless, other cable TV service providers like Azam TV, Zuku TV, Canal+ Afrique, and others are gaining prominence in various African countries.

While their expansion is yet to reach a continental scale, there’s hope for swifter expansion, which could introduce more fierce competition and, who knows, even drive down subscription prices by offering a greater variety of options.


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