The conversation that preceded the launch of new pay-tv company, TSTV on October 1, 2017 was one of the heaviest in the Nigerian market . From a consumer point of view, what generated the conversation was not so much of how well the company orchestrated it as it was about the hopes and expectations of Nigerians that at last competition has eventually come to dilute what has been perceived to be a near monopolistic hold of Multichoice Nigeria on the pay-tv business in the country.
Across market segments, it has been widely, sometimes wildly, held that Multichoice has not been fair to the country, especially with its pricing. Many ordinary Nigerians believe that DSTV could costs a lot less than Multichoice is charging. Those who hold this view also believe that with competition, there will be an opportunity to extract greater value from Multichoice Nigeria.
Conversations around this issue have been on for many years and each time, Multichoice would come out with facts to suggest that the price regime in the country was the lowest in Africa.
But this story is essentially not about the Multichoice. On the contrary, it is about the new comer, its launch and what it should have done differently. Below are 10 things we believe TSTV could have approached differently before announcing its entry into the pay-tv fray:
1. Going to market with nothing to sell. If you are not a buyer of products or services, your trip to the market, the only reason you go to a market, would be because you have something you are selling. There is this other category of widow-shoppers and, you may add, thieves. But these are not factors we should take seriously as constituting the critical population of a market.
It is either you are buying or you are selling. In the pay-tv business, TSTV is a seller. Therefore, when news was going around the digital and Social Media spaces about the new comer, everyone thought that on the day of launch, there’d be decoders and technical staff on ground.
The promise was huge: N5,000 decoders, free 20 gigabytes of data, sports (Nigerians love football!). But as people gathered in Abuja, with government officials present and granting tax holidays, it became clear that there was nothing on the shelf for people to pick up. No decoders. No dishes. No nothing! To make the whole thing sound funny, TSTV announced that service would become available one month later, on November 1. This is a major marketing crime, the consequence of which is marketshare loss – marketshare the company does not have yet.
When you say that you are launching a product or service, the very first thing that must be done is to ensure the product is ready along with all service platforms. This is usually done long before preparing for the press conference and event activations. I said this same thing on a post I made on Facebook: You cannot organize a party, invite guests and when they are singing, dancing and in various degrees of delirious revelry, you pick the microphone and announce that food and drinks would be served the next day. People will walk away and next time you stage a show, I am not sure any one of these will return.
2. The name, TSTV is too close to competition. People often loosely ask, What is in a name? In marketing, where differentiation might just mean everything, a name is a whole lot. Except you are selling a commodity, the name is as important, if not even more important than all the value propositions you are putting forward.
Have you tried mentioning “TSTV” to someone of late? Except those very familiar with the conversations, once you mention TSTV, you are 90 percent of the time likely to get a retort like, “You mean DSTV?” This is phonetically explainable. TSTV sounds very much like DSTV when pronounced. What this does is that at any point this new comer is mentioned, chances are that people will immediately begin to first think DSTV before they process it and tune their brains to recognize it is another brand that is being talked about.
Implication: TSTV will continue to reinforce the brand identity of DSTV in all oral communications around its brand. This means that it must work hard to either kill DSTV and usurp its identity completely or continue to walk under the shadow of competition with over 20 years of experience and equity under its belt.
3. Announcing channels it cannot realistically and legitimately offer: There are rules guiding the global pay-tv market. For any channel you are adding to your bouquet of offering, there are licenses required to make them happen. As it were, these licenses are granted on regional and national jurisdictions.
I speak about the announcement by TSTV that it was going to broadcast an endless stream of sports, especially football channels to its Nigerian audience. It claimed, so I read, that it was going to take its feed from the beIN platform.
Now, how is this possible? beIN Sports, according to Wikipedia, is a global network of sports channels owned and operated by beIN Media Group, a spinoff of Al Jazeera Media Network. It has no operations in Europe. It is licensed to broadcast the Premier League and some other European football leagues only for Middle East countries where its feed comes in the Arabic language. It is not licensed for the West African market.