It’s been a year since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak pandemic, a year that most parts of the world shut down as they braced for the unexpected. In Nigeria, Lagos State was already under partial lockdown with venues of social gatherings compelled to close shops as a way of limiting the spread of the deadly virus. By the end of March, the president sent the state to a full lockdown for two weeks with the exemption of those in essential services.
With the Nigerian health sector already riddled with poor infrastructure development to contain the ravaging virus, Nigeria was destined to be the worst-case scenario. But that was not to be the case as the federal government aided by the private sector, managed to keep the virus at bay. Companies like MultiChoice Nigeria made cash donations of N200 million and N50 million to the federal government and Lagos State government respectively. The company also donated 60,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 10,000 face masks to hospitals and non-governmental organisations as well as public education and enlightenment provided through regular highlighting of the helplines of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on more than 10 channels on DStv and GOtv platforms at a cost estimated to be in excess of N550 million.
For those in the creative industry, anxiety was almost palpable. The lockdown halted productions, sales and events. Quite a few jobs were lost while others were left to reimagine their modus operandi. Again, MultiChoice committed up to N400 million to the industry, keeping many employed despite the economic challenges at the time.
Perhaps, the biggest help to come from the company is its unwavering support in keeping Nigerians entertained without compromising the quality of their programmes.
The pandemic triggered TV watching as many looked for escapes to kill the boredom. MultiChoice rose to the occasion by churning out new entertainment content. From ‘Turn Up Friday’ to ‘Owambe Saturday’, the company kept many households lively. Despite all odds, the company premiered the fifth season of its popular TV show Big Brother Naija. The TV reality show was such a huge success that the company recorded 900 million votes.
It didn’t stop there. It kicked off the ‘We’ve Got You’ campaign between April and June when the country was still under lockdown. The campaign offered active and disconnected DStv and GOtv customers the opportunity to get an upgrade to the next viewing package when they renewed subscription on the packages they were on. The campaign enabled households undergoing financial challenges to still access their favourite news and other general entertainment content.
The new year arrived with the promise of better days as vaccines roll out began in earnest. The COVID-19 vaccines recently arrived in the country and vaccination is already in progress in some states.
Still committed to alleviating financial burdens on customers, the company started the new year with a Step Up campaign for DStv subscribers. The campaign enables subscribers on Compact, Yanga and Confam packages to pay for a package a step above their current package and get a boost to view programming on the next higher package. That is, a Compact bouquet subscriber can upgrade to Compact Plus to enjoy Premium content. The campaign also allowed GOtv subscribers on GOtv Jolli and Jinja to upgrade and enjoy GOtv Max at a discounted price of N2,999, instead of N3,600 per month.
In February, the company announced a hardware discount offer on its DStv and GOtv decoders. DStv HD decoder, dish kit with Compact package subscription dropped from N18,600 to N9,900 on Confam package, while GOtv decoder, GOtennae with GOtv Jolli package subscription now costs N6,900 from N8,400.
The price slash was subsequently followed by a GOtv campaign tagged, GOtv Dey Your Side, an offer borne out of the company’s desire to show support to subscribers who have remained loyal to the service by offering them more for less money in an economic situation worsened by the pandemic. With this, customers on GOtv Jolli and GOtv Jinja get to pay for the Jolli package (N2,460) and get upgraded to the highest package, GOtv Max worth N3,600 at no extra cost. Customers on its GOtv Max package were also not left out as the Awoof Overload promo in March catered to them. The promo gave Max customers a chance to win N100,000 for school fees, N50,000 cash prize, N10,000 shopping vouchers, N5,000 fuel vouchers and free airtime to call on all networks via a weekly draw.
In terms of content, MultiChoice has increased its content offering on its DStv and GOtv platforms. More programmes were unveiled for the year such as: the singing reality shows – Nigerian Idol and The Voice Nigeria; special curated channels – M-Net Pretty Deadly pop-up channel to mark Women’s History Month and the Hallelujah pop-up channel to commemorate the Easter celebrations. The Hallelujah channel premiered a new segment tagged ‘REJOICE!’ hosted by veteran gospel artiste, Segun Obe featuring live performances from top gospel artistes. The live worship experience continues Easter Sunday, 4 April also from 3pm to 7pmwith performances from PITA, Frank Edwards and Tim Godfrey. All these in addition to live football matches from the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, La Liga, Serie A and other premium sporting content including the UFC, Formula 1, Tennis, NBA and WWE.
Other channels launched on the DStv platform this period include: Honey, a pan-African lifestyle channel offering an exhilarating blend of African lifestyle content from the continent launched in February; tvN Africa, Korea’s number 1 entertainment channel launched in March and WildEarth, a channel set to bring viewers face to face with the thrill of nature during daily LIVE safari shows from spectacular wildlife locations including The Greater Kruger, KZN, the Kalahari and the Maasai Mara.
No doubt, the coronavirus pandemic taxed our ingenuity and for MultiChoice, it was an opportunity to enrich more lives. One can only wonder what’s more to come in the next weeks and months from the video entertainment company.
Adebiyi a Public Affairs analyst, writes from Ogun state