MultiChoice DSTV, Nigeria’s biggest pay-TV company, has long recognised the country’s huge potential as both a producer and consumer of entertainment programming and is helping spread content around the African continent and the world.
“We have consistently invested in content, and to a large extent in skills and capacity building,” says John Ugbe, Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria. “Now we have an industry that is providing jobs to quite a large number of young people, while bringing out talent and creativity. Pay-TV is a bedrock of that industry so we have been able to support the growth and a new culture that is coming out of Nigeria.”
MultiChoice is part of a multinational group that offers original and imported programming in more than 20 African countries. In Nigeria it has been a non-stop innovator, constantly at the forefront of new technologies. It was the second company in the world to introduce digital satellite television, for example.
The company has also been among the first in the world to offer its clients dual view recorders, which allow people to view different programmes in different rooms using the same decoder. From there the company moved on to offer personal view recorders, allowing people to watch programs on delay, or to record them and watch them whenever they want.
“Another key milestone for us was the launch of mobile TV ahead of most regions in the world,” says Mr Ugbe. “We have a mobile TV product, which allows you to watch your favourite programmes with compatible mobile phones, and you can also watch TV on the go with the personal handheld Walka device. We also have the Drifta device which enables you to watch TV on other devices such as the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, PCs and laptops among others.”
MultiChoice grew to be the biggest pay-TV company in Nigeria through such constant innovation and also through its willingness to make long-term investments in the country’s entertainment industry and its employees and clients. The company hires and trains Nigerians for all available positions, for instance using local people to operate the broadcast vans it sends to live sport events.
The company is also very active in helping educate and improve the lives of young Nigerians. It supports the Sickle Cell Foundation in Nigeria; it offers programming on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel; and it has a program, the MultiChoice Resource Centre Project, that takes learning into schools.
“We train teachers and also provide content, instructional materials as well as TVs and TV recorders, to ensure that the children learn,” says Mr Ugbe. “Presently we have rolled out our resource centres in over 200 schools in 21 states in Nigeria. We keep in regular contact with them and the teachers, so we see what the impact has been. Every year we add about 40 schools to our resource centre plan and we intend to increase the number in future.”