Home Cover Content as new crude: Struggle, success, stories behind MultiChoice’s stride in content development, marketing

Content as new crude: Struggle, success, stories behind MultiChoice’s stride in content development, marketing

by Goddie Ofose
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In television viewing, content is king. Without quality content, it becomes very boring and uninspiring. This was the vacuum Multichoice Nigeria identified and plugged efficiently. Today, TV viewing has gone beyond just informing and educating the viewing public to entertaining them.  

Explaining the intriguing journey of becoming African number one PayTV content provider, Mr. Tope Oshunkeye, Head, Marketing Multichoice Nigeria told GODDIE OFOSE and KOLA BOLA what it takes to create enthralling content for the viewing audiences, such, as Big Brother Naija, Nigerian Idols, bluster movies and soaps, and  sport. 

Feeding viewers with relevant contents

Without mincing words, Multichoice could not have remained atop of its trade for close to three decades without having the wherewithal for fascinating content packaging; the near-magic dissemination of the contents to its audiences across Africa, and its seamless online streaming designed to reach out to global audiences. “We love content; it’s what keeps us in business.  It’s what our customers live everyday to experience. It gives us that sort of opportunity to also feel the pulse of our customers,” said Tope Oshunkeye, Marketing Manager, and Multichoice.

He stated that content is not just produced for the sake of doing so; periodic market research is carried out to ensure such productions meet the viewers’ expectations.  Before any content decision is made, there is a lot of market research on how to continue to improve on what the people want to see. We utilize the opportunity of talking to families, and different people that want to enjoy different things. “So, it excites us, it’s all about beautiful customer experience, getting value for what they pay for, and getting what they expect from the number one paid TV company in Africa. It brings us joy, it delights us, it enriches us, and it enriches life all the time with our spread of contents.”

To Multichoice, content production is not a monorail as the platform presents multi-dimensional contents from the local dramas to movies. “Like you know a lot of series have come up, and, of course, don’t forget sports. The part I find very interesting is the sort of educational content we have for children, young adults, and the ones people don’t usually talk about, like the History Channel and the National Geography that give you a window into the world”. He continued, “Those are the sort of content that grow a nation by making the people more knowledgeable. I’m particularly a fan of people seeking education beyond just entertainment on the platform”.

Surmounting challenges of relevant content productions

Creating contents that keep people glued to their televisions often create challenges that require meticulous planning to surmount. “There have been a lot of misconceptions and a lot of misinterpretations of what people want on TV. And then, we have a situation where people say what we should do, there have always been challenges there. That is why we have also changed our approach in content discovery,” Oshunkeye explained.

 In most cases, the content organisations shy away from their responsibilities to create delightful contents, but for Multichoice, the marketing manager said that “It is our responsibilities to inform our customers about what we are, so, we are extending new ways of contacting them. The touch point, what they do, and where to find what is relevant to them. Our websites are there to give you that sort of information to view more offers.”

According to him, “We have provided more opportunities for our customers, and also promoted that for them to catch up. Also, when you think of what the explorer offers in terms of opportunity for you to be able to think of it, even, when you are not home. I think we are also giving our customers the opportunity not to look at it from a repeat perspective but in terms of the opportunity to watch it from multiple perspectives.”

Beyond football, a revolution

With its huge following, globally football remains a big deal in paid TV business, and Multichoice is not an exception. At a point hiccups in the trade space forced a loss of some big football franchise. This moved the brand to look beyond football in growing its audience base across the continent. “Indeed, football has a great audience and will forever be loved globally but, at that phase, when that happened, you adopted the innovative theme that the foundation of Multichoice was built on: the spirit of never say die to Africans.? To the many Nigerians that we employed to make sure (that people stay awoke. I think that was part of the motivation, and till today it still says well), when we say Multichoice is African most loved number-one storyteller.

  “That was the basis on which we founded African Magic; we wanted to be African most loved storyteller. We provided the language channel opportunities, which gave us the likes of Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba channels, and local opportunities; it gave many local stars the opportunity to be on air. We became known for creating the template for such local contents. It gave us the great opportunity to explore, and it is still very relevant till date, if you think about what African Magic has achieved: the sort of the original stories and stars that passed through us. What we have achieved is an unbeatable of innovative leadership for Multichoice.”

What makes Multichoice production tick?

 Multichoice has been in business in Nigeria for nearly 30 years. Its background, with its M-net sort of production, gave it a great leverage. “We also have the best broadcast quality, and some of the best people, like those that started off from the M-net production franchise. We have remained true to the high quality that we owe our stakeholders and our customers. We have grown that star quality that guarantees the best experience in anything our customers are watching across channels”. “That explains why African Magic has to showcase such a high definition channel, and on our premium package of over 15 high-definition channels show the quality we bring to homes, families, especially, at this material time. We are contending with a lot of big weights.”

Entertainment, creative industry

We could not have done this storytelling all by ourselves. We have to lean on the creative industry and the people that have experienced these stories that want to tell the stories. And then, we bring them to the world because we see it as our responsibility to do so. When you think of certain epic productions that were built around the Hotel Majesty back then, we have productions like Ajose, which really connected with the people. Ajose and Reonard are very popular themes that have explored? our booths. It is our responsibility to be able to project such epic stories that can be found in new ways to make them relevant for today.

Showmax incursion in the online viewing experience

Showmax from the staple of Multichoice is seen by industry watchers as a market response to Netfix, an online streaming TV. “I think the sky is really big enough for everyone to fly. When we started as a paid TV company, we really got a lot of customer-base on being a paid TV with the audience. But we understand that times are changing and situations are improving across board, and people are showing more interest, especially, when it comes to the IMTU end of the pyramid, and that look into a multi-internet base that is critical to us. We also have to re-evaluate how we do business, but we are definitely supporting both sides.

“We have our DStv streaming out, and readily available. With one subscription you can share with four family members who like to watch. So, we have that opportunity, so we are already thinking that way in terms of being with our contents. We also have a separate composition, where we think we can compete very strongly. “Showmax is quite great when streaming live sports and a lot of African Magic’s original production that you can watch. So we are definitely competing at that level. And the sky is big enough for everyone to fly.”

“The interesting thing about Showmax is even from adding values to customers. We offer Showmax Premium at no extra charge. You own DStv with over 175 channels, and you still have access to streaming and a lot of other international contents like HVO and other global studios on Showmax at no extra cost.

Big Brother, the biggest showbiz platform in Africa

Despite the reservations expressed by some people on moral or religious grounds, Big Brother has remained a hit reality show since it was first hosted in South Africa. “Personally I love it, and I admire it. It reflects our story as a people, our insecurity, and our passion. It gives us the opportunity to dream. You see marriages and homes made, and people, who had never thought of being business owners, doing great just by getting into the Big Brother house. It has a positive resonance for a lot of young people, and the great opportunity it offers year after year keeps getting better.

Yes, there are controversies and all that about the show. It is rated 18; therefore, parental guidance must be enforced as much as possible. It is a reflection of the Nigerian society, therefore, you expect to see our societal traits, including certain indiscretions in it. Despite the availability of many channels on the platforms, DStv and GOtv, a disproportionate number of customers are drawn to the life changing moments and stories on the Big Brother. It only goes to show that a lot can happen when Nigerians do big shows like this.

 “I think the impact of the Big Brother is not adequately amplified. It is a big trendsetter for entertainment. A song that has been on the music platform for years but didn’t get up to 200 people to listen to, just your friends and family. You know what that also means, the opportunity of streaming to audiences across the continent. Music is just one aspect. It also talks about people acting, hosting their career opportunities, and doing branding to grow their social media numbers. It is a life-defining show. We see people from other specialties going into the show, and discovering, and later excelling in, other interests, like in arts, culture and entertainment. I think its impact has not been elaborated on enough.”

Advertising, branding and sponsorship

Every year has been so unique with its sponsorship. The sort of headlines that drive the show from the sponsorship perspective is part of what makes the show very interesting. With this kind of change every year, we give kudos to the past and present sponsors of the show. “With the critical, imperial decisions that sponsors have to make on how to go around the journey for Big Brother, they have brought a unique treat to the show. Maybe it’s just a good way to keep it.”

More aggressive contents in entertainment from Multichoice

“In the days ahead everyone will be flying to space, and it is the level we need to operate at. The sort of experience around going to the space, I think that’s not only what we need, but what our stakeholders expect from us. They expect us to go to the space, and we expect more of local productions of reality shows. The music singing sensation of Nigerian Idol makes it to season 7 to offer such opportunity for talents. I think in partnering with Nigerians doing well in the Premier League, like Ndidi, Ihenacho or Victor Ozieme, in terms of sponsorship, as part of our new football season campaigns. So these are the kinds of partnership you can expect in the future as well – just enriching more lives, allowing you to watch on the go those services that save you money and keep family and friends together. Absolutely, Europa League is back with this football season, all of the curtain-raiser games, showing them and the high definition. We are going to have Europa Cup for another three years.

 “German Bundesliga is not a must because we have the world’s best football that is unbeatable. And it’s unbeatable because we have Premier League, Serie A, Europa Cup and of course the Champions League, all of that delivered to you every weekend live and in high definition. So I think we will keep on building on that.

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