Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Will Kwese TV outsmart DSTV in the pay TV industry in Botswana?

Consumer choices relating to Pay TV in Botswana used to be simple ÔÇô a life with DSTV or a life without it.

But as of August 2017, Botswana’s households have been spoilt for choice ÔÇô even if between these available options one could be more appealing than the other, and some a lot more expensive than the other.

The latest arrival in the country is Econet Media’s Kwes├® TV which launched some four months ago. This could mean one thing ÔÇô the pay TV market has now become competitive for the all time monopoly, DSTV.

The long and short of this story is that Kwese TV is here to change the pay TV sector in Botswana and their intentions are crystal clear; to make an impact in the pay TV sector, they want to be the best.

MultiChoice Botswana would certainly not come out to say whether the arrival of Kwese is bad news or not, but the company certainly welcomes this new competition, atleast according to its Acting Marketing and Public Relations Manager at MultiChoice Botswana, Thembi Ndzinge.

Ndzinge says her company believes that competition stimulates the market and grows the economy. “At the end of the day, it is the consumer that benefits when competition rises in any economy”.

In preparation for this new competition, MultiChoice Botswana intends to stick to its traditional strategy of putting customers at the center of everything they do. Ndzinge says her company is continuously looking at ways in which it can improve on its offering, its value-added benefits and most importantly its service delivery.

Since March 2017, Multi Choice Botswana, which has been dominating the local pay TV industry since the mid 1990’s, has been ‘rewarding’ customers with extra channels and extra content. To everyone’s shock, at the beginning of November 2017, the company went as far as launching a funeral scheme for its customers – the “Realeboga Funeral Scheme”.  Regarded as a value added benefit to selected customers, the scheme is underwritten by the country’s leading insurance outfit, Botswana Life and is seen by some as MultiChoice Botswana’s way of ‘rewarding’ loyalty but most importantly retaining existing customers.

At the time of the launch, the company told journalists in the capital Gaborone that through the “Realeboga Funeral Scheme”, Botswana subscribers qualify to receive cover for themselves and their spouse at no excess cost by staying connected for three months on any DSTV package.

The cover, the company said at the time, is expected to vary depending on the package subscribed to and will continue to increase with each month of active subscription until a P14, 000 cap is reached.  

“We are excited to be launching the Realeboga Funeral Scheme because though our core business is providing entertainment through our exciting DSTV packages, the core reason for our existence is the relationship we have with our customers,” said MultiChoice Botswana Retentions Manager, Ramolelwane Makubate in the capital Gaborone.

Whilst MultiChoice Botswana battles with the reality of the arrival of the first ever competition, Ndzinge’s counterpart at the new Pay TV, Shadi Linchwe says Kwes├® TV has come in to offer premium and exclusive content that is competitively priced. This is to say her company has already started doing the ‘damage’ to DSTV and looks to leave no stone unturned in its quest to lure Pay TV viewers to their side.

“Kwes├® has been well received in Botswana since the launch in August. As a new entrant in the pay-tv market, consumers were very curious and interested in the offering that Kwes├® is bringing. We are still in the launch phase and we are gradually realizing our targets at launch”, says Linchwe.

The battle against piracy….

While this story is centred on the imminent competition within the Pay TV space in Botswana, the market leader, MultiChoice Botswana is at the same time facing few other battles outside this business to business competition.

At foremost, the Riverwalk Mall based company is said to be facing yet another stiff competition from its own sister company across the border, MultiChoice South Africa. The competition is not by choice and is regarded as illegal.

The local firm has, for some time now, been battling illegal usage of DSTV South Africa decoders in Botswana.

The matter has been made worse by a recent decision by the country’s leading retailer, Choppies Limited which partnered with a South African company that specialises in prepaid products and the electronic distribution of virtual merchandise. The company, Blue Label Telecoms has set up mini-counters at some of the Choppies stores in Botswana to not only sell the South African DSTV decoders but also offer local subscribers to make their monthly subscriptions. This means instead of crossing borders, locals can now easily walk into selected Choppies Stores, buy a South African DSTV decoder and also pay the monthly subscription.

While Choppies Finance Director Sanooj Pullarote confirmed the new arrangement to Sunday Standard during the company’s presentation of its financial year ending June 2017, MultiChoice Botswana’s Ndzinge could not be drawn into discussing the issue any further. She could not deny knowledge of the ‘illegal’ trade exchange between Choppies and Blue Label Telecoms.

However, without being specific to the Choppies ÔÇô Blue Label Telecoms deal, Ndzinge made it clear that all operators providing DSTV connections and support services in Botswana are bound by the law to ensure that DSTV services in Botswana are those that are legitimately provided for in this country, and they may not connect Batswana to DSTV services in any other neighbouring country.

“Piracy has a detrimental effect on any industry which will eventually lead to the long term erosion of the entertainment industry. Piracy also has a detrimental effect on the economy, since generally those involved in piracy do not pay for the goods or services that they utilize and hardly, if ever, pay taxes and/or employ staff”, says Ndzinge.

In the meantime, whilst the country’s all time Pay TV monopoly maps a diplomatic way out of the Choppies – Blue Label Telecoms deal the company’s piracy team in conjunction with security and law enforcement agencies are said to be working tirelessly to assist in preventing other forms of piracy as a way to protect the viability of the Botswana economy.

…..and the real battle

While consumers might hope that the imminent competition between Kwese TV and DSTV will result in competitive prices, only time will tell.

As for what they have put in table for now, both Kwese TV and DSTV declare themselves as what the doctor has ordered for the local Pay TV market.

“We recognise that our customers are living in tough economic times and want to reward them for their ongoing loyalty and support by providing them with the best local and international entertainment.” Theo Erasmus, MultiChoice Botswana General Manage said in September 2017, a month after the launch of Kwese TV. At the time, MultiChoice Botswana announced a 23 percent slash in prices for its DSTV Access package.

Whilst in September 2017 Erasmus said that over the last two years, MultiChoice Botswana has stuck to its customer promise by providing best entertainment – combining both quality and variety – at a reduced rate to ensure access to great family entertainment, Kwese TV’s Linchwe says Kwes├® TV content comes with flexible subscription options.

“This means you’ll always be live with Kwes├® TV; whether it’s just to catch the big weekend game with the 3-day subscription, or keep the children busy during that long weekend with the 7-day option, or just for that month when you’re on leave with a monthly option, or better still to stay stress free with a yearly option. Kwes├® TV’s got you covered”, Linchwe said.

Linchwe says this they want to achieve through innovation and by giving customers value for money programming and service, at very competitive rates.

“Extensive research was done prior to the launch of Kwes├®, to ensure that our products meet the demand in our various territories in terms of content and pricing”, she added.

Her MultiChoice Botswana counterpart, Ndzinge says DSTV continues to offer exciting and exclusive content inclusive of some of the biggest football leagues such as the English Premier League, La Liga, and UEFA Champions League.

“As digital technology continues to take over the way we do things, we also provide our customers with access to online streaming services of Live TV with our DSTV Now app. With unique value-added benefits such as our movie rental service, DSTV Box Office, SuperSport Live Streaming and DSTV Catch Up which allows customers to view content at their own convenience, DSTV continues to provide our customers with highly innovative options”, Ndzinge said.

While both Ndzinge and Linchwe maintain that “theirs” is the best in town, only time will tell if the new market entrant will result in stiffer competition or the status quo shall remain. In the meantime consumers will make tough competition based on whether they prefer to pay as they watch or upfront. For sports fanatics, they will choose whether to settle for the popular English Premier Soccer League that is offered by DSTV in most of its packages or the NBA Basketball that Kwese TV has rights to broadcast.

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