Star Times woos subscribers ahead of TV switchover deadline

By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda

Star Times, one of the leading pay TV stations in Uganda, has introduced cheaper decoders and upped its awareness campaigns in bid to attract more subscribers to its digital platform ahead of the June 2015 digital switchover deadline.

Having operated in Uganda for over three years, the Chinese firm seems has spelt out a game plan to entrench Pay TV adoption among Ugandans. High initial costs have for long been highlighted as the major setback for the process with many urging government to subsidize the set top boxes like it has been the case in countries like South Africa. The outcome has been the slow pace to which locals have adopted towards digital TV space. In fact according to UCC stats, out of the over 10 million TV sets in Uganda the existing Pay TV operators only control a paltry 20 percent.

In a country whose GDP per capita is 571 and with more than 20 percent of the population estimated to be surviving on less than a dollar per day, the high initial cost  coupled with high monthly subscription fees have become a nightmare in their plight to join the digital TV era. For instance, initial charge for installing pay television that uses a dish, for instance, ranges between USh 120,000 and USh 300,000 depending on the service provider, while the digital terrestrial transmission (antenna powered) service providers charge between USh 65,000 and USh 80,000. This is in addition to the monthly subscription charges that range between USh 25,000 and USh 250,000.

Star times Marketing Manager Aldrine Nsubuga noted in an earlier interview that the firm having identified the high initial costs is determined to help Ugandans overcome the hurdle and benefit from digital TV. “We are committed to a smooth transition from analogue to digital broadcasting while enabling Ugandans to overcome entry barriers through affordability as we equally showcase our premium channel offering and customer centered after sales services that will swiftly manage any challenges faced by our customer.”

To help implement this, Star Times has introduced a massive discount on the cost of acquisition DVB T2 decoder in a move aimed at facilitating a smooth and affordable transition from analogue to Digital broadcasting. More still, the company has introduced the DVB T2 HD that is very portable and of higher quality than the T2 that has been on the market. “This new decoder will retail at Ush 8,000 from the previous Ush 70,000 upon adding Ush 41,500 that will help subscribers to choose subscription from any of our bouquets,” added Nsubuga. To complement the digital migration offering, StarTimes has also introduced the most affordable bouquet in Uganda called the Nova bouquet that will be retailing at on Ush200per day hence totaling up to Ush6,000 per month as subscription.

According to the firm’s publicist officer Christine Nagujja, the StarTimes Light decoder would enable more Ugandans access digital television services ahead of the global deadline. “We are not looking at profits now. We want to first grow the subscriber numbers by getting as many people as we can on board. For pay television, money is not in the initial access fee, it’s from the monthly subscription fee and the more the people, the better,” she said.

Digital broadcasting will offer television viewers better quality pictures, improve television reception signals, and also free the spectrum for other users. It is estimated that although there are about five million television sets in Uganda, just a handful use pay television services. This has been attributed to the high initial access cost for pay television services.


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