Pay-TV providers resort to price cuts to retain clients 

Friday March 05 2021

Pay TV services providers are struggling to retain customers amid rising competition and the impact of Covid-19. Photo | File

By Christine Kasemiire

Multichoice product, GOtv is the latest pay TV to cut decoder prices in what it terms as a move towards affordability. 

GOtv recently cut decoder prices to Shs69,000 but yesterday announced a further cut to Shs39,000 in a month-long promotion. 
It is not clear whether the promotion will be extended, however, Ms Joan Semanda Kizza, the MultiChoice public relations and communications manager, told Daily Monitor that 2020 was not an easy year financially, noting it was the right time to lower price. 

 This is the second time GOtv is cutting decoder prices in three months from Shs89,000 in December to now Shs39,000, which represents a percentage cut of more than 50 per cent. 
The move comes after Startimes in December announced a cut in decoder prices from Shs49,000 to Shs39,000.

 Ms Christine Nagujja, the Startimes spokesperson yesterday said the cut had been pegged on the impact of Covid-19 that had shifted subscribers’ priorities.
After undertaking research, she said, they had found out that a number of potential customers had been impacted by Covid-19. 

A Uganda Communications Commission report for the 2020 third quarter indicated that subscriber numbers had contracted from 1.56 million at the end of June 2020 to 1.54 million in September 2020 due to multiple reasons which include the impact of Covid-19 coupled with a shift to online video streaming.  

“During the lockdown, the lack of work [and] funds to access entertainment services led to a fall in subscriptions but an increase in Internet subscription and usage. Online video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix and YouTube, as well as new local platforms [such as] MTN’s YoTV and Airtel TV, were at the height of their popularity domestically, and it is possible that this demand has been sustained and captured a more permanent share of Pay TV subscribership,” the report noted. 
Video streaming
Growth in the Pay TV market has been slow dominated by just a few service providers out of the seven. The industry is also facing increasing competition from free to air platforms.


Pay TV subscribers surged to over two million in 2018 but have since failed to recover, now worsened by the impact of Covid-19. 

Online competition                                
Pay TV service providers are also facing competition from online streaming channels, which according to Ms Semanda, is being countered with new innovations such as Showmax.
Online streaming through channels such as Netflix is taking root in Uganda, assisted by growth in  Internet subscription, which has grown to more than 20.1 million, according to data from UCC.