Uganda: Pay TV Market Loses 130,000 Subscribers Due to Covid-19

21 October 2020

Pay TV service providers experienced a contraction of about 8 per cent in subscriber numbers, translating into a loss of about 130,000 subscribers in six months to June.

The drop, according to Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) was occasioned by suspension of major sports activities both within and beyond Uganda.

At the beginning March to June the country was under a lockdown with a number of sports activities within and across the globe suspended.

The suspension, UCC says, could have forced some Pay TV subscribers, especially those anchored on commercial benefit, to stop subscription.

However, it is not yet clear how many subscribers have since returned since the ban on a number of global and local sports activities has been lifted.

A number of Pay TV service providers such as DStv, capitalise on broadcasting live matches to attract subscribers, which forms a large percentage of their subscription base.

A subscriber is categorised as inactive if they spend at least 30 days without renewing their subscription.

Data contained in the UCC Market Performance Report for the quarter ended June, indicates that the drop in subscriber numbers had started in the first quarter of the year in which Pay TV services providers lost at least 6 per cent of subscribers, before declining further by 2 per cent in the quarter between April and June.

According to the report, the sustained drop saw subscriber numbers drop from about 1.68 million in December 2019 to 1.55 million in the quarter ended June.

It is not yet clear how the drop affected Pay TV service providers revenues. However, the UCC report indicates that a number of subscribers downgraded to cheaper service packages.

During the period between April and June, for instance, the UCC report shows, at least 61 per cent of subscribers, paid for the cheaper packages , which could have been informed by contraction in household incomes as a result of Covid-19 related disruptions.

In the quarter to March relatively cheap service packages had only attracted 40 per cent of subscribers.

Among the satellite broadcasting category, which includes service providers such as DStv Zuku and Azam, DStv has the most prized service packages ranging from Shs219,000 to Shs33,000 while Azam offers the cheapest from Shs37,000 to Shs10,000.

The report does not indicate which services provider holds the largest market share but previously reports have indicated that StarTimes' hold on the market is only rivalled by GOtv, both of which broadcast through cable.

Pay TV subscriber numbers have been growing since April 2019, increasing by 6 per cent in the period between April and June 2019, which represented at least 1.39 million.

More growth was registered in the period between June and September 2019 in which subscriber numbers grew to 1.47 million, which represented a percentage growth of 15 per cent.

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