Business News

DStv loses 1.2 million subscribers in Nigeria

MultiChoice Group, the parent company of MultiChoice Nigeria, has reported a 1.2 million decrease in active DStv subscribers.

The company stated this on Wednesday in its financial result for the year, which ended March 31, 2024.

It said the decline in Nigeria affected its overall subscriber database leading to a 9% decline for the year.

While the total subscription figure for Nigeria is not stated as it is lumped with other operating units outside South Africa tagged as ‘Rest of Africa’ (RoA), Multichoice reported that the 18% decline in Nigeria brought the RoA’s total active subscribers down by 13% to 8.1 million from 9.3 million (a 1.2 million decline) in 2023.

“The group’s 9% decline in active subscribers was mainly due to a 13% decline in the Rest of Africa business as mass-market customers in countries like Nigeria had to prioritise basic necessities over entertainment, while the South African business showed more resilience with a 5% decline,” the company stated.

Blaming the decline in Nigeria on the economy despite implementing price increments three times in the last year, the company said:

“The Nigerian economy and consumers faced persistent challenges through FY24. The removal of fuel subsidies, sharp currency depreciation with the official naira halving in value, inflation climbing to over 30%, and higher emigration of the middle and upper class drove an 18% YoY decline in active subscribers.”

It added that this also reduced Nigeria’s contribution to the Rest of Africa revenues from 44% to 35%. It noted, however, that Ghana saw a similar subscriber trend given an inflation rate that is still above 20%

Multichoice further stated that due to the challenging market dynamics, the short-term focus of its RoA (Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Ghana, and Zimbabwe) business was shifted from subscriber growth to safeguard profitability and cash flows.

“Several cost-saving initiatives were implemented, including scaling back significantly on decoder subsidies (-46% YoY or ZAR1.3 billion), and reducing selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) costs by ZAR500 million. These interventions enabled the Rest of Africa business to increase trading profit by 48% YoY to ZAR1.3 billion,” it said.

Multichoice disclosed a decline in active subscribers not only across its operations but also in its home country, South Africa, where there was a 5% reduction. The total subscriber count in South Africa dwindled to 7.6 million. The company attributed this decline to the frequent power outages experienced on 275 days of the year, which discouraged potential subscribers without backup power.

Explaining the dynamics of the decline, Multichoice stated, “Although the Premium bouquet is trending toward a stable base given the targeted retention efforts, the premium customer tier (which includes the Premium and Compact Plus bouquets) declined by 8%. The mid-market Compact base, which is most exposed to the macroeconomic challenges, was down 9%, while the mass-market tier was 2% lower due to pressure in the Family base, the impact of load shedding, and reduced decoder subsidies.”

In the face of rising inflation, Multichoice raised its DStv and GOtv bouquet prices three times within the past year—first in April 2023, then again in November of the same year, and finally in April this year, with the latter increment taking effect on May 1.

Ahead of the May 1 price adjustment, the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT) in Abuja issued an order restraining Multichoice from implementing the new prices, based on a case filed by a Nigerian customer.

However, Multichoice disregarded the court order and proceeded with the price increase, prompting the Tribunal to impose a fine of N150 million on Multichoice for contesting the jurisdiction of the court.

Delivered by a panel led by Thomas Okosu, the verdict on Friday also mandated Multichoice to grant Nigerians a one-month free subscription on DSTV and GOTV. As of the time of this report, Multichoice had not responded to the verdict but has expressed intentions to appeal the judgement.

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