By Linus Acholonou
Ibadan, Oyo State. October 11, 2011. The importance of the location and date may have slipped from consciousness, but the occasion was one that announced a sea change in the Nigerian broadcast industry. It was the launch of GOtv, the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) service provider, in the country. Why Ibadan? The Oyo State capital had, in 1959, given the country and indeed, the African continent, its first television station in the shape of the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV).
It was, thus, a case of television-in its most modern incarnation- coming home. GOtv’s promise at birth was simple: to provide “a low cost-digital television service, offering the greatest selection of local channels, made in Africa for Africans as well as the best international channel”. As simple as the message of the promise was, there were still doubts that quality television content could be made available at pocket-friendly prices. Those doubts, however, started evaporating when GOtv’s delivery of its impressive buffet of local and world class channels begun on its two bouquets: GOtv Plus, which offered 33 channels at N1,500; and GOtv (now GOtv Value), offering 26 channels at N1,000-a fulfillment of the promise made.
The hardware (decoder and antenna only) sold for N9,900.
The content brimmed with undeniable quality, delivering among others, programming from AfricaMagic Plus, Discovery, Disney Junior, E-Africa, E! Entertainment, Nickelodeon, SuperSport Select Sport, Style, BBC World News and Al Jazeera as well as local channels such as African International Television (AIT), Lagos Television (LTV), Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Plus, NN24 (now defunct) and Silverbird Television (STV).
The programming selection was and remains such that has something for every television-viewing taste. More content was added to bouquets periodically.
Equally important was that from the beginning, the content was delivered via the most up-to-date technology. GOtv, at launch, premiered the DVB-T2 decoders, the latest broadcast technology platform as a mark of its commitment to and leadership in Nigeria’s march towards digital migration and technological evolution of broadcast television in the country.
This was an open invitation to Nigerians to get on the digital migration train and reap the vast array of its benefits, which include considerably better audio-visual quality and top-tier entertainment-at an affordable price. Convinced of its quality content, its amazing audio-visual attributes and affordability, prospective subscribers felt they were on to a winner if they signed up for the GOtv service.
From Ibadan, the cradle of television broadcasting in Africa, GOtv spread to other parts of the country. And quickly, too.
Within a few years, GOtv became the staple in many homes dream, entertaining families like never before. Five years after the launch, GOtv signal is available in over 50 cities in 24 states and the Federal Capital Territory, with three bouquets: GOtv Plus, 50 channels at N1,800 monthly; GOtv Value, over 25 channels at N1,200 monthly; and the recently introduced GOtv Lite at N400 monthly. GOtv Lite was introduced in appreciation of the current tough economic situation in the country as the most affordable bouquet on the pay-TV landscape. It offers the subscriber a generous amount of flexibility at a subscription rate of N400 per month (approximately N13 per day); N1,050 quarterly and N3,100 yearly, making it the cheapest pay-TV bouquet in the country.
GOtv Lite comes with nine local channels, two local radio stations, two religion-based channels, children and music channels, one each; two news and commerce channels as well as entertainment and sports channels. GOtv’s introduction of radio stations made it the first DTT service provider to carry radio channels on its platform. It currently has Wazobia FM and Naija FM 102.7.
More value is offered to the subscriber through the reduction in the price of the GOtv decoder and antenna in addition to three months’ subscription.
As a way of ensuring that subscribers derive maximum value from its service, GOtv launched a door-to-door customer service scheme, GOtv Sabimen. The Sabimen are a crop of adequately trained technicians, who go door-to-door to resolve various issues related to GOtv services. The scheme has provided employment for youths in various parts of the country. Another youth empowerment scheme launched by the provider is the GOtv Canvasser Scheme, which has imbued young people with skills to make GOtv products more accessible to subscribers.
■ Acholonu, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja.