In 2017, the cable industry was sizzling. Cable TV users in Nigeria were united in their anticipation. TSTV was in town to rival DSTV and for many, this was a dream. More than two years after the TSTV news stormed Nigeria and was widely received with a jubilation, the company is singing a new tune, and for many dealers, the dream has become a nightmare.
In the beginning
TSTV promised Nigerians cheaper cable television. They said the decoder would run on Wi-Fi. That buying the decoder for just 3,000 naira would come with 20GB data while you get 10GB on your every subscription. That was not all, TSTV said clients would have the option to pause their subscription for up to seven days, and that daily and weekly subscriptions are in the bag for customers.
The company also promised to offer viewers the full European football package which includes the UEFA Champions League, the English Premiership, Spanish La Liga, the FA Cup, and national football. Popular channels like CNN, BBC, Fox, ESPN were to be offered by TSTV. It was too good to be true.
Then the problem began
The Company had put November 1, 2017, as the Go-live date. But unfortunately before then, CNN denied having any agreement with TSTV. Turner Broadcasting Company owners of beIN sports also released a statement denying any such pact with the upcoming cable TV. Fox was more detailed in their denial. “…Despite advertised claims regarding FOX channels, FOX does not have any agreement with TSTV regarding the distribution of channels, but remains confident that TSTV will normalize the situation….,” part of the statement read.
When contacted, a PR personnel said: “Those guys are fighting dirty, trying to do everything to discredit us. They are even cloning our sites.” He didn’t say who this “they” were.
On November 1 2017, the roll-out date finally came. It started with a Europa League match involving Arsenal. Here, viewers allegedly saw a disclaimer boldly displayed on the screen: “You are viewing beIN Sports content illegally via TSTV in Nigeria.” Viewers were subsequently blocked from watching the match.
The company blamed the occurrence on hackers, saying “We are experiencing some technical hack for upwards of 3 hours,” they said. “It will be over soon,” they concluded. However, this was just part of the problem.
Meanwhile, TSTV decoders were not yet in the market en masse, as dealers reported a series of problems ranging from “logistics” to lack of dish. On April 1 2018, TSTV announced on Twitter that the decoders were ready. But it was an ordinary decoder and not the promised Dexteritous decoder that was released. It was not Wi-Fi enabled and not one sports channel.
In 2018, dealers of TSTV had enough. They wanted a refund. These dealers were a handful in number but they carry the collective disappointment of a nation when they matched to TSTV headquarters in Abuja to air their dissatisfaction. They claim to have invested up to 1 billion naira on the decoders that the company has failed to provide.
When the news hit the wires, it became evident that not only dealers were affected as the staff of the company are owed up to six months’ salary. As high as 80% of the staff have been disengaged without pay.
TSTV is no more as recent news emerged that the company has lost its Abuja headquarters office to a law firm, Rahael Adakole & Co (Lighthouse Chamber), due to inability to pay its rent.
TSTV is not the first Nigerian company to challenge the near-monopoly of South African-owned DSTV. HiTV launched in 2007 with a Hypercable terrestrial cable system. At their peak, HiTV had the sole right to air the English Premiership (2008/2009) in Nigeria. HiTV succumbed to financial burdens and the company folded up in 2011.
With TSTV going downhill, more or less, wary Nigerians are beginning to wonder, will Nigeria ever get it right and break DSTV stronghold?