The Marketing Director, StarTimes, Mr. Oludare Kafar, spoke to Raheem Akingbolu on how the company’s newly unveiled innovation and smart option will grant users instant access to the digital TV train. Excerpts:
What is the unique selling point of the StarTimes brand in the market?
Over the years, StarTimes has been exploring various platforms to connect with the public, especially the subscribers. The number one thing that is driving the followership we are presently getting is our ability to embrace local content and this is one of the major requirements of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC). We realise the need to collaborate early with various local content providers to offer quality content for Nigerians. Indeed, it has really helped us because today we have over two million subscribers just in four years, this tells you our level of acceptance and it is growing every day.
StarTimes is the only Pay TV that provides Nigerians quality and in-depth local contents. We have moved past 40 per cent local content requirement of the NBC. Our customers are satisfied with what we are giving them. We embark on researches about what Nigerians want before we give out our content.
Can you say Nigeria has fared better with the coming of Pay TV operators into the market?
Beyond the entertainment advantage Nigerians are daily getting from the platform, Pay TV has impacted well on our social and business behaviours. It plays a critical role in the overall Nigeria broadcasting and content ecology. In the area of advertising and marketing, it delivers more value than what was obtainable before in the market. Finally, I think it is critical to healthy competition in the TV market, and to the realisation of a wide range of social benefits.
What does the new product – the integrated HD digital TV set stand for the entertainment industry?
It is a new dawn in TV viewing experience in Nigeria. With it, I can confidently assure our patrons that StarTimes is championing a movement. I am saying this in the respect that this is the first of its kind in Nigeria and even in Africa. Anybody who is interested can do a survey, launching a TV with inbuilt decoder is a new thing in the African market. Through the innovation, StarTimes is set to give viewers the best of both digital and terrestrial TV experience in one box. By buying just the TV, our subscribers can be sure of having all in one.
No doubt, the introduction of the new product will increase demand for your service, how prepared is StarTimes for the surge?
We are very prepared. We understand this because the first time we launched a TV in Nigeria, we were out of stock for so long. Based on that experience, we know what to expect. Besides, it is a good time for us to promote this. It is the yuletide period, when people tend to buy things and give gifts. This is our yuletide gift to Nigerians and we know that there would be a surge, so we brought in huge quantity to accommodate this.
What’s the resilience of the product to weather?
There is little resilience. The decoder is combo. Irrespective of where you are, for instance, you can easily switch from the satellite which is susceptible to weather to the terrestrial without you missing your favourite programme. It gives the flexibility form of satellite to terrestrial.
We should not forget the fact that StarTimes has always been a friend of the masses.
Has the company factored in the current economic situation in fixing price for the new product?
We have carefully examined the price of other TV products in the market, coupled with the fact that it is a combo decoder in one. What we have priced is competitive to the price of an ordinary TV let alone the price of two decoders in it.
If any of the rival operators decide to do something like this, what do you think would give your product an edge in the market?
We are not a monopoly but what stands us out is our content, we give both quality and affordability. This is our USP and we would keep working on that.
The brand has been around for years. What has been the staying power?
I must use this medium to thank our customers in Nigeria for the patronage. We have been here for six years and still waxing stronger. The feedback has been good. We have improved on the weaknesses. And whatever our subscribers want we have given it to them. What they want is convenience and flexibility and that is exactly what we are giving with this new product. Convenience in that you buy the TV and you have access to inbuilt decoder with both satellite and terrestrial access. Flexibility in that you can switch to both platforms irrespective of the weather.
How prepared is the group for the analogue to digital movement?
We are very prepared as a stakeholder and we are doing everything humanly possible to demonstrate this. Our vision is to ensure that every Nigerian has access to digital TV at affordable rate. We have different products that appeal to different people. For instance, the DTT is there for the masses. For the upper class, we have the combo decoder and also for those who want all in one, we have launched the new TV set. We want all Nigerians to migrate seamlessly to digital viewing.
Does it mean that those who buy this can do without the normal TV?
It gives you access to StarTimes quality at affordable content. And if a subscriber decides that he or she wants to fix in my game box, DVD, there are pots to accommodate any means of entertainment platform.
In a nutshell, the new television product comes in three sizes and already available in the market. It is designed with in-built decoders integrated with the television, thereby saving users the stress of buying TV and decoder separately as well as clumsy wiring connections. The smart product comes permanently with over 100 pay TV and free-to-air channels and will grant users instant access to join the digital TV train as currently being promoted by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
What informed the new product and can you please highlight its features?
StarTimes is committed to new innovations and technologies that can enhance digital TV experience for Nigerians and Africans and rally the people to enjoy maximum TV entertainment at very affordable rates.
The platform commits itself to providing customers with the most endurable Digital LED TVs and the most splendid viewing experience, integrated with the cutting-edge technologies and exquisite craftsmanship.
It is our belief that it will boost viewing pleasure and offer credible, quality and outstanding entertainment experience at a quite competitive price.
The TV comes with 60 per cent lower energy consumption than CRT TV, designed for decorating a more fashionable space with its maximum thickness of 70mm and the minimum thickness of 13mm and Offer boundless viewing pleasure with 5mm ultra-slim bezel and silver skating blade stand which uplifts your viewing.
Also, the combo decoder mode was deliberately designed recently with latest global technology to lavish subscribers with unprecedented access to digital television and entertainment. Interestingly, this new combo decoder works with both antenna and dish and offers all channels from both for the price of one. It also grants our esteemed customers access to over 100 channels across the genres with HD picture quality. This exciting option is on the new TV set.
StarTimes appears not to be doing much to appeal to consumers at the top echelon of the market or has the company left that segment for its main competitor?
Let me start by stating that it is wrong to assume that StarTimes is not keen about a particular segment of the market. As at today, we are the most sought after brand in the Nigerian Pay TV industry and there are a lot of indices to establish this. Though we are concerned about providing affordable digital television to Nigerians, this has not affected our rating and appreciation. Currently, we have over three million subscribers. We started with about 40 channels and now we have about 150 channels.
We began operation in two states, now we have almost covered the entire country and the profile is still growing. Our focus and resources have been channeled towards offering quality and affordable entertainment to every Nigerian household and the approach has kept us going. For many years in Nigeria, Pay TV was an exclusive thing for a particular set of people, but when Startimes came, we made sure we became friend of the masses. Five years ago, the platform was expensive and not affordable for a common man on the street but we changed the face of everything. Today many Nigerian can boast of quality and affordable Pay TV.
We didn’t stop there rather we kept upping our game by improving on the values we offer Nigerians. In various categories at StarTimes Nigeria, we have the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Digital To Home (DTH). We have the StarTimes for DTT and Starsat for the DTH. We have been able to ensure that on both fronts, we are satisfying Nigerians. On our Starsat, we have over 100 channels and on both platforms we have channels that cater for every category of people. We have channels and programme for Children, teenagers, adult, men and women. We also have channels and programmes for sport and movie lovers (Nollywood, Bollywood, Indian and Chinese films). We have been able to offer a variety of rich and quality contents on a very affordable platform.
Let me give you another secret. Our logo corresponds with the quality services we offer. The blue colour in our logo is about our superior technology, while the orange colour is about our friendliness. As an organisation, we are very friendly. We have an open door policy and also a dedicated network for customer care and we have, as well, trained personnel in these areas. We have been getting feedback from people and anytime we get feedback we always go to the drawing board and develop thing that can better the expectations of our subscribers at home.