We have over two million subscribers just in four years- Isreal Bolaji, Public Relation Manager, Startimes Nigeria

Startimes is a Technology company that was established in 1988 in China. The company currently operates in 8 African Countries, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Guinea, Central African Republic, Burundi. In this interview with BRAND INFO, Startimes Public Relation Manager, Mr. Isreal Bolaji speaks on the new development in the company, digitalization and the future of PAY TV in Nigeria among others. 

What are those thing that has been given your brand the kind of followership it has been getting from Nigerians?
Over the years Startimes has been using many areas of opportunities to connect with our customers and subscribers. We came into the country in 2010 with 40channels and today we have over 80channels today.
Number one thing we have been given us the followership we are presently getting is our ability to embrace local content and this is one of the major requirements of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). We realize we need to collaborate with various local content providers to offer quality content for Nigerians. Indeed it has really helped us because today we have over two million subscribers just in four years, this tells you our level of acceptance and it is growing everyday.
Startimes is the only PAY TV that provides Nigerians quality and in-depth local content. We have moved past 40percent local content demanded by the NBC. Our customers are satisfied with what we are giving them. We make researches about what Nigerians want before we give out our content. Our recent survey shows that women and children are those that watch TV even than the men.
We have so many contents for women and children. We have about seven world class, educating and mind blowing channels for kids. We also have so many channels for different age group of women. We have channels like Orisun, Africa Movie Channel and some other highly rated channels endorse by NBC.      

How have you been able to compete with your competitors in this competitive industry?    
Our focus and resource has been channel towards offering quality and affordable entertainment to every Nigerian household and it has kept us going. For many years in Nigeria, PAY TV was an exclusive thing for a set of people, but when Startimes came we make sure we are friend of the people. You can as well call us the friend of the masses. Four years ago PAY TV was expensive and not affordable for a common man on the street but we change the face of everything. Today many Nigerian can boost of quality and affordable PAY TV.
We didn’t stop there but we kept upping our game by improving on the values we offer Nigerians. In our categories at Startimes Nigeria, we have the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Digital To Home (DTH). We have the Startimes for DTT and Starsat for the DTH. We have been able to ensure that on both front we are satisfying Nigerians. On our Starsat we have over 100channels and on both platforms we have channels that cater for every category of people. We have channels and programme for Children, teenagers, adult, men and women. We also have channels and programmes for sport and movie lovers (nollywood, bollywood, Indian and Chinese films). We have been able to offer a variety of rich and quality content on a very affordable platform. Recently we launched new nine channels which are very rich in content. In order to satisfy our customers better, we usually open eight out of the new nine channels freely for one week to our subscribers. This is because we want them to familiarize with what we offer their and the response has been wonderful so far.   
Our logo corresponds with the quality services we offer. The blue colour in our logo is about our superior technology, while the orange colour is about our friendliness. As an organization we are very friendly. We have an open door policy and also a dedicated network for customer care and we have as well trained personnel in the area. We have been getting feedback from people and anytime we get feedback we always go to the drawing board and develop thing that can better the expectations of our subscribers at home.           
What are you bringing to the table for your subscribers?
We believe Christmas is the time to celebrate but not only Christmas period. We believe this season is a great time for family and lovers to bond together and we also consider the digital migration that will commence next year so we have decided to give free decoder to every Nigerian for two reasons. Firstly we want people to have access to set boxes that will help them to enjoy digital entertainment at this moment and also to prepare Nigerians ahead of digitalization coming up next year.
Nigerians just need to subscribe to our unique bouquet for three month which is 3000 or classic bouquet for two month which is 4000 to get the free decoder for Startimes. For Starsat, if you subscribe to our smart bouquet we will give you the disc, decoder and all other accessories for free. The two platforms have their tagging. We tag Startimes ‘Season Jolly Promo’ and Starsat ‘Family Fiesta Promo.’ These are the two platforms we are using to give out free decoder to Nigerians.
We are also not leaving out our existing subscribers. If any subscriber recharge for two months, he/she will get 50percent of the second month. Apart from this, everybody stand a chance to get a lot of gift to celebrate Christmas. Our star prize is six set of luxury chairs which we gave out four of it recently in Abuja. Apart from that we are given out 60 LED TV which we also gave out 30 recently in Abuja. We are also given out CRT TV, Standing Fan and some other consolation prizes.
The goal is to connect with everyone and create a memorable and rewarding experience.

What are you doing in the area of sport?
I can authoritatively tell you that we are the only PAY TV that has the television right to the NBA and we have a lot of followership in that regard. We have a programme that is coming up next year where two Nigerians will win an all expensive paid trip to Las Vegas in USA to go and enjoy live matches of the NBA.
For football, you might not be able to watch live English Premier League matches on our platform but we show a lot of highlight. We also cover the UEFA Champions league and European Nations Cup qualifiers, UEFA Europa league, French League and others.

How prepared are you for competitors industry this year?      
At Startimes we encourage healthy competition because it helps the industry to grow. It brings a lot of opportunity into the industry and greater growth for all. We believe that there is a lot of room for improvement and expansion.
Startimes is an international PAY TV brand and the largest in the whole of China. Apart from offering PAY TV in Nigeria, we are also a system integrator. There are other things that we do in terms of building capacity infrastructure and facility to help set up fully digitalize broadcasting studio. We have the capacity to change the equipment and technology of some of our stations that are operating on analogue broadcasting in Nigeria.   Digital migration is a whole lot of process that involves many people like the regulating body and the PAY TV and there are many angles to it. I can tell you that we are playing our part, we are ready for it, we are putting resource in place and we are doing more to offer Nigerians incredible value.

What is the future of the PAY TV industry?      
I see a lot of opportunities in the industry. There was a report that was released recently that says the percentage of Nigerian that has television is very low. If I compare it with the number of people that have decoder I am sure it is even lower.
Nevertheless the future is a very promising considering the population of the country and the increasing passion Nigerians are currently having for PAY TV. The industry is already growing. Now we have Startimes, DSTV, GOTV and MYTV among other. But I still believe that to achieve our main focus of digital migration we need more platforms that is affordable to help Nigeria transit in a digital manner.
It is going to be a very interesting industry by the time we fully commence the digital migration.

How prepared is the industry for the digitalization?
Initially they have a plan to start by January, but from the last report I heard it has been shifted to the middle of next year. This has been the result of the election and other factors that need to be put in place. Whether we like it or not digital migration needs proper readiness.
Even before the call for digitalization by the NBC, the primary objective of Startimes has been digitalization of every home. For the past four years we have been doing it even till date.

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