On weekend afternoons in Lagos, if you take a walk around low-income communities, you are likely to find sheltered spaces with large television sets screening live English Premier League or La Liga matches.
These viewing centres usually charge their customers between N200-N300 to gain access to these games. However, what these customers do not realize is the fact that they have more access to live matches from the English Premier League, La Liga, Italian Serie A, the UEFA Champions League, Europa League etc than their fellow Nigerians in the diaspora.
This trend is made possible by MultiChoice Nigeria, the country’s leading pay-tv company, which offers its customers access to matches from the aforementioned leagues and tournaments in Europe through various subscription packages offered on its cable television platforms namely DStv and GOtv and its Video-on-Demand platform, Showmax.
However, it is noteworthy that the company is recurrently berated for owning exclusive broadcasting rights to the Premier League, La Liga, Champions League among others. As such, it is not uncommon to find current or inactive customers accusing MultiChoice of using its monopoly to extort its customers anytime the company hikes its subscription fee due to macroeconomic reasons.
Some even go as far as clamouring for a pay-per-view subscription model with the assumption that exclusive access to their preferred kind of content will reduce their subscription fee. This sentiment was widely espoused in times past, so much so that it managed to find its way to the legislative desk of the 9th National Assembly.
This past weekend, while I scrolled through my X (formerly Twitter) timeline, I noticed and paid attention to a discourse by Nigerians in the diaspora, particularly those residing in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada. The consensus was that Nigerians resident in Nigeria will not value MultiChoice’s sports content offering until they emigrate.
To put their position into perspective, Premier League broadcast rights in the United Kingdom is largely split between SkySports, BT Sports and Amazon Prime Video, while broadcast rights for La Liga matches is split between Viaplay and ITV. As such, to access all the live matches for these two leagues, one would need to subscribe to all of these channels. You and I can agree that it is not the most financially savvy thing to do for a Nigerian in the diaspora.
But, I found it interesting that middleclass Nigerians could finally admit to the fact that MultiChoice Nigeria has made access to live matches from top European leagues affordable. For instance, customers on GOtv Supa+ can access all Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and some Champions League matches for just N10,500 monthly, while customers on GOtv Max can watch all La Liga, Serie A and Europa League matches for just N5,150 monthly.
If you put all of this into perspective, you will realize that contrary to widely held sentiment, MultiChoice’s ‘monopoly’ has only served to make access to in-demand sports content both affordable and easier. Imagine having to pay separate subscription fees to broadcasters to watch matches for each of these leagues and tournaments? We would be better off sticking to the status quo. Besides, the last time another entity not MultiChoice secured broadcasting rights for the Premier League, it only resulted in a general hike in the cost of pay-tv subscription for customers.
I understand the backlash that ensues everytime MultiChoice has had to hike subscription fees, however, such increments are necessary to keep the business afloat in the face of Nigeria’s harsh macroeconomic reality. Even still, the subscription pricing offered by MultiChoice Nigeria, which gives customers access to wholesome sports content remains one of the best pricing models anyone can get in the world. Let’s not take it for granted.