Tag Archives: 9mobile

Flipping the switch

Nigeria’s digital switchover (DSO) was the key topic on the first day of broadcaster FreeTV’s three-day online digital series event. Priscillia Alao reports.

Olumade Adesemowo

The event kicked off on Wednesday with Inview Technology CEO Olumade Adesemowo anchoring a panel focusing on DSO and the future of Nigerian content. Speaking on the panel were Professor Armstrong Idachaba, acting director general of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC); stand-up comedian and actor Ali Baba; Film Video Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria (FVPMAN) chairman Emeka Aduah; and 9Mobile marketing director Olayiwola Onafowokan.

Idachaba provided a report on the current status of the DSO, detailing some of the challenges of transitioning more than 30 million Nigerian households from analogue to digital and looking to the future.

“The DSO project is important to the future of the media industry in Nigeria,” he said, explaining that as well as improving picture and sound quality, the switch will result in more channels for creative-minded people to realise their potential.

So far, DSO has been rolled out in Jos, Abuja, Kaduna, Ilorin and Osogbo, as well as Enugu, where the switch has been carried out but not completed across the entire state.

Referring to his fellow panellist, Idachaba continued: “With the bank of content Ali Baba has been able to produce over the years, I wonder why he is not running comedy channels. This is the time to engage content producers, and regulators are ready to create that platform for them.

“Some of us don’t fully understand the potential inherent in the digital transition process and we also don’t realise that the entire value chain will be driven by the content we produce. As regulators, it is time to create the right regulatory framework that will allow creatives to have an entry point.”

Idachaba added that Inview’s partnership with the Bank of Industry meant there would be support for companies involved in licence acquisition and the production and distribution of content.

“At the NBC, there is a renewed commitment to delivering on the DSO project. The vehicles for delivering content are the signal distributors who are willing to commit their resources to the roll-out,” he said.

Armstrong Idachaba

The next places to get the switch will be Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano, Idachaba said, noting that the NBC was also working on partnerships with other corporations.

“We are confident that once the lockdown is off, we will regenerate activities around the DSO,” he added, referring to the restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Ali Baba discussed the impact the DSO could have on the entertainment industry when fully implemented.

While there has long been a lack of platforms for comedians in Nigeria, Ali Baba predicted that the DSO will lead to a proliferation of opportunities. “DSO is a welcome idea because there are lots of talents who just need the right platform,” he said.

“We are ready and, although platforms had been denied us because we had to pay for airtime, we now have free-to-air options.”

Aduah, whose association has been involved in Nollywood production and distribution since the days of VHS and through to VCD and DVD, outlined what the DSO would mean for the FVPMAN.

“The challenges holding down the distribution of VCD in the market is in the area of piracy, which has not been dealt with. But we are doing our best to curb it to allow VCD/DVD to sell. Everything has transitioned into digital and it is in our best interests to ensure the DSO comes to [fruition].

“When [DSO is completed] in Kano and Lagos, we are looking at the NBC to facilitate the launch so content owners can smile to the bank, because DVD is not selling as expected. This is a digital era – with the DSO, we will be able to make more sales through the use of dongles. We hope we will be able to witness the switchover so we can continue in business.”

Aduah said the NBC had work to do in order to address challenges in the distribution of content, noting: “TV stations play more foreign content than local content.”

Elsewhere during the discussion, 9Mobile’s Onafowokan talked about the importance of TV firms working with telecoms companies in the digital landscape. “Digital TV provides new features for viewers that analogue does not have, but all these depend on collaborations with telecom industries,” he said.

As part of aims to achieve the NCC’s target of 70% broadband penetration in Nigeria by 2025, around N265bn has been invested in infrastructure, with the government investing N65bn and the private sector contributing the rest, Onafowokan said.

“At 9Mobile, we give access, flexibility and mobility to clients so they can enjoy services the OTT players bring on board,” he continued. “We are empowering content owners by ensuring content is fresh and relevant; we have not ramped up our involvement in terms of collaborating with content owners and production houses, but we are providing infrastructure to ensure content is consumed.”

The session concluded with Idachaba highlighting more positives of the DSO. “We are beginning to explore the reality of tech convergence, and the key functionality of the set-top boxes will be affordable, simple, highly functional internet access for more engagements and an additional source for content dissemination,” he said.

Idachaba added that the DSO would create more opportunities for creative people thanks to the set-top boxes featuring technology that will monitor what is being watched, making it easier to identify programming priorities, fill in gaps involving the structure of content production and facilitate inter-creative exchange.

“We are hoping the Nigerian creative industry will cash in on the advantages of the ecosystem, because we believe the future of terrestrial and OTT is strong,” he said.

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9Mobile readies 4G roll-out

Telecoms company 9mobile is to roll out 4G mobile coverage in 16 major cities in Nigeria in the coming months.

9Mobile acting MD Stephane Beuvelet said cities that will benefit from the improved network include Sokoto, Enugu, Eket and Owerri, where there has been a growing demand for mobile data.

“The operator has invested in a massive roll-out of infrastructure that is set to improve network efficiency. 9mobile believes 4G is an enabler for entertainment, doing business and solving problems in Nigeria,” said Beuvelet.

In August this year, 9Mobile secured a US$230m loan from the Africa Finance Corporation that the company intends to use for innovative product development and network efficiency.

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Next TV, 9Mobile, LMC link for football

Private media outfit Next TV Digital and telco 9Mobile have signed a deal with The League Management Company (LMC) for the production and broadcast of Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) content for local and international markets.

Shehu Dikko

This five-year deal was sealed in Abuja between LMC chairman Shehu Dikko, Next TV Digital chairman Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim and 9Mobile acting director Olayiwola Onafowokan.

With a projected value of US$200m, the broadcast deal is aimed at allowing free flow of investment into the NPFL in order to ensure the professional and efficient production of NPFL matches for distribution to all interested networks.

Dikko said the transaction stood on a number of “pillars,” explaining: “The first pillar, which is most important, is that we are going to get investment into the NPFL and that will ensure football keeps running and operates in a professional way.

“The second pillar is that we will produce NPFL matches through the investment of Next TV, technical expertise and support. All over the world, league football is driven by production, which means if you don’t produce your content, you will not earn money.

“The third pillar of the transaction is to ensure the marketing and sales of NPFL matches produced across all platforms in domestic and international markets, such as pay TV, free-to-air, mobile, OTT, streaming, highlights and video-on-demand.

“Cash will be put into one pot and, at the end of the day, we will have enough revenue so that we can catch up with the developed leagues. We want to see all our matches on all global networks as soon as possible.”

Ibrahim added: “We are going to go beyond OTT and, with time, ensure we have quality content that can project the NPFL. We are not restricting it. We want to drive the projection of NPFL through OTT and digital technology and share the content with others who will be willing to use it, whether it’s terrestrial or cable, within and outside Nigeria.”

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Kwesé TV partners with 9mobile

Econet Media-owned African pay TV company Kwesé TV has established a strategic partnership with Nigerian mobile telephone operator 9mobile.

Elizabeth Amkpa

Kwesé has signed a distribution agreement with the telecommunications company ensuring that its customers can purchase Kwesé decoder kits and services at 9mobile stores.

Meanwhile, 9mobile subscribers will get exclusive data bundles to access Kwesé iflix, the VoD joint-venture it formed with Asia-based service iflix.

General manager of Kwesé TV Nigeria Elizabeth Amkpa said of the 9mobile pact: “This partnership extends our distribution network and makes our products accessible to even more Nigerian consumers.

“We are currently operating in select 9mobile Experience Centres in Lagos and we will soon be available in other major cities across the country in partnership with 9mobile.”

Currently, there are six participating 9mobile stores, all of which are situated in Lagos. Locations include The Palms Shopping Mall, Ikeja City Mall, Adeola Odeku Street on Victoria Island, Mushin, Surulere and Festac Town.

Adebisi Idowu, 9mobile’s VP of marketing, also commented: “9mobile is determined to continue meeting the passion point of Nigerians, especially customers on the network, and Kwesé TV offers yet another major platform to do so.”

Kwesé TV has over 70 channels that offer varied entertainment, from lifestyle to news. Since its launch in Nigeria in 2017, it is fast becoming one of the leading pay TV platforms in the country.

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Kwesé iflix strikes telco partnerships

Kwesé iflix has partnered with two telcos to make the new African streaming service available to more customers.

Richard Iweanoge

Days after its launch, Kwesé iflix – which is offering coverage on the ongoing FIFA World Cup – has struck strategic partnerships with MTN and 9mobile, giving their subscribers access to the fledgling platform.

Adeolu Cairo, 9mobile’s director of consumer segment, said: “As an innovative and customer-centric telecom operator, 9mobile is always on the look-out for ground-breaking ways to enrich the lives of our teeming customers and Nigerians as a whole.

“Therefore, we are excited at the ample opportunity this collaboration with Kwesé iflix affords us to increase our investment in bolstering the growth of football and the bourgeoning Nigerian entertainment industry in a way never seen before.”

9mobile customers will be offered premium VIP Kwesé iflix content for three hours at N500 (US$1.38). Customers also have an option of subscribing to Kwesé iflix for N500 for three hours (valid for three days), N1000 for seven hours (seven days) and N2500 for 15 hours (30 days).

Richard Iweanoge, general manager of brands and communication at MTN Nigeria, said: “We are excited to be working with Nigeria’s emergent digital entertainment provider to offer premium TV and video content to our consumers.

“Some of the extraordinary content on offer includes live coverage of the World Cup tournament in Russia, blockbuster movies and much more.

“This is part of our effort to continue to deliver innovative services to Nigerians through our wide distribution network across the country – in consonance with the MTN vision to lead the delivery of a bold, new, digital world.”

MTN will offer its subscribers 24-hour access to the Kwesé iflix app at the rate of N250. Customers can access data bundles on MTN to choose between one-day, three-day, seven-day or 30-day VIP passes.

Kwesé iflix initially launched in partnership with Bharti Airtel, another of Nigeria’s leading telcos.

Airtel offers its subscribers unlimited streaming of all Kwesé iflix premium VIP content for N300 per 24 hours. It also offers one-, three-, seven- and 30-day VIP passes.

Kwesé iflix is a joint venture between between Econet and and iflix. One of its main attractions is its freemium tier, which allows users to access a range of programmes for free.

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