In this exclusive chat with MarketingWorld, Martin Mabutho, the ebullient GM Sales and Marketing at Multichoice shares on the brand’s success in the country, digital transmission, Big Brother Naija See Gobe and many more.

How would you rate the success of the MultiChoice brand in Nigeria?

Success is multi-faceted. We have done pretty well in terms of building a recognizable brand in Nigeria. We have gone from a single satellite channel offering at inception to a multi package strategy with a range of pricing points to suit individual choices. We aim to provide access to content to even more households across Nigeria. And I think we are poised on the brink of achieving that through our terrestrial platform, GOtv, as well as through our lower tier packages on DStv.

From a Corporate Social Responsibility standpoint, we have the MultiChoice Resource Centers; a project that involves the installation of digital satellite TV equipment loaded with our bespoke educational content in close to 400 rural secondary schools across 34 states of the federation including the FCT. I am proud to say that thousands of students have benefitted from this special programme, who have now graduated and gained admission to universities and institutions of higher learning.

Furthermore, we derive great satisfaction from the number of entrepreneurs that have emerged from our value chain. Some of them started as installers and have today grown to become Super and Mega Dealers.

What are your views on the successful switch on of Digital Migration? Does it have any particular influence on pay TVs?

Pay TV has an important role to play in digitizing television. As we often say at MultiChoice, all our customers are already digital transmission ready, whether they are DStv or GOtv customers. In others words, any decoder you buy from us is already digital transmission ready. The many benefits of achieving digital transmission include but are not limited to better quality picture and sound, increased capacity and so on.

Access to superior sound and picture quality is a given for DStv and GOtv customers and in addition to this, we have up to 13 HD channels on our Premium package and we constantly evolve and improve our services in order that our customers enjoy our services even more.

Martin Mabutho, GM – Sales and Marketing MultiChoice Nigeria

Do you think Nigerians are satisfied with the local content made available?

We are committed to local content creation and this commitment is made especially obvious through our popular Africa Magic channels. We have dedicated channels for Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba programmes, alongside English programmes that focus on our culture and traditions.

In terms of satisfaction with the local content, we work with producers, screenwriters, to commission original movies and series. Our most recent collaboration; Battleground which airs on Africa Magic Showcase on weekdays, is currently generating a lot of buzz, and that is what we are proud to be known for. Our longest running series, Tinsel with well over 2000 episodes is also a testament to the acceptance of locally created content by our customers.

In essence, the handwriting is on the wall. Take for instance the just concluded Big Brother Naija. It’s no secret that it was a monumental success.

The feedback on the translated subtitles for movies is still very poor. What is the company doing to make this complaint be a thing of the past?

We take our customers’ feedback very seriously and this means working round the clock to ensure that we address their concerns. You will recall that when we started Africa Magic, the complaints we received were far more than we have at present, and as we continue on this journey, we are receiving more feedback as well as commendation for programmes on our platforms.

Accuracy of subtitles is an area that our customers have flagged, and that we are committed to resolving with the help of our content providers. Our quality assurance team constantly flags some of these with content providers in a bid to improve the standards. That is why you sometimes learn that some movies are rejected based on them not meeting certain standards.

How are you fighting piracy?

Piracy is the bane of any creative industry, and we are fortunate to have the support of the Nigerian Copyright Commission and the Nigerian Police in battling piracy. They support by monitoring and identifying illegal connections and use of unauthorized/adulterated materials. They also carry out raids which lead to the capture and arrest of copyright pirates across Nigeria. In conjunction with the NCC, we also hold educational sessions to discourage piracy and pass on the key message that the content generators are being robbed by pirates and this in turn affects the nation’s economy.

The Premier League is a big attraction to Nigerians. Do you think Nigerians will have same loyalty to GOtv and DStv without the soccer channels?

We strive to always have a balanced offering across our various packages. It is true that soccer is a big win with Nigerians as it forges national unity especially when a Nigerian team is playing. However our sports channels offer an array of sports which include Boxing, Athletics and coverage of other international sports and championships. We also have a vast selection of other content that appeal to various members of the family including general entertainment, news and documentaries. There are subscribers who do not watch soccer games at all. So essentially, there is something for everyone on DStv and GOtv.

What do you think contributed to the success of the recently concluded Big Brother Naija See Gobe?

We had a balanced mix of housemates. Different characters, demeanors and social orientation that gave the show talkability and high entertainment value that we originally set out to achieve.

Without a doubt, this was the most watched reality television show in Nigeria so far. My little worry is that we have set the bar so high with Big Brother Naija that anything else that comes, whatever show comes afterwards will require us to dig deeper into our creative pool.

I cannot overlook the fact that in this digital age, each action or inaction by any of the housemates led to real-time discussions and debates on social media, and on group chats. It was addictive entertainment for three months.

What offerings from your stable do you think has disrupted the market since you started operations in Nigeria?

For us disruption has come in many forms. As I earlier stated, adopting a multi-package strategy was one of the first ways we adapted our proposition to suit our customers. From then on and from a technological standpoint, we launched the PVR decoder, which has now evolved into the Explora decoder. The Explora is perhaps the most useful entertainment hardware for any household. It can record up to 2terrabytes of movies, that’s over 100 different movies and series. With the Box Office feature, a family can rent a movie from over 20 titles. The Catch Up feature is also a pretty handy way to watch programmes that you might have missed when they first aired.

At the moment, we are very excited about DStv Now, which as you probably know, was the next natural step from our DStv Mobile proposition that required you to watch our programming from a specially made hand held or plug-in device. It gives you access to your regular subscribed programming, right on your mobile phone. The DStv Now app also reminds you when a show is about to start, so that you can choose where and when to watch it. Entertainment has never been more accessible for our customers than at this very moment. You can download the app for free from your Google Play and Apple Store.

Can Nigerians be at rest for a little while as far as the subscription rate is concerned?

Last year, we announced that we would do everything possible to hold the price barring any extreme macro-economic conditions. Recently on 1 May, we had no choice but to adjust our prices due to the increasing operational and content cost.

Our content is purchased in dollars and that made it very difficult to maintain the old price in spite of all our efforts to do so. We will continue to examine ways in which more value can be enjoyed by our customers across their chosen packages.