About displacing a corporate monopoly and the perils of riding that success.
The intersection between crony capitalism, patient capital and executive exuberance.
A week before then, November the 6th 2006 to be precise, a competitive bid was being held somewhere in the United Kingdom.
It was made separate from the rest of Africa by the owners of one of the most valuable content in the world after it recognized the value demographics portends for pricing its product.
That win, will of course, be to the detriment of the behemoth that was a ruthless monopoly from South Africa.
Nigeria’s HiTV was announced the winner of Nigeria’s “Live A” for Territory 70, giving them exclusive rights to broadcast Premiership football matches in the whole of Africa.
It was a massive victory and the beginning of a new dawn for Nigeria. "Never again, will we allow a foreign monopoly take advantage of our market."
His Startup, Entertainment Highway Limited “HiTV” had just pulled of the unthinkable and was in a few months about to shift the pay tv dynamics in Nigeria.
His promise was about to be fulfilled and now, there was no turning back.
“$28m in 2006 to secure the right to broadcast English Premiership football for three years even before they had sold a single dish.”
The bank financed the transaction and reportedly took a 15% equity in the company. The political class also gave their support in full.
“was to show solidarity with Hi-TV" because its CEO, the young lawyer, Mr. Toyin Subair, "embodied the Nigerian spirit."
It was like a gift, the type only the great man from above, could bestow on someone sent to earth on a mission.
Guys wanted him around and the ladies were enchanted and attracted to his charm and looks.
He named it Abraham & co, Solicitors & Advocates.
The name Abraham was Toyin’s adopted Christian name after he became a Born-Again Christian in the early nineties.
As is typical with the law profession, smart lawyers who resigned from bigger firms, often left with close and often lucrative clients, whom they had served on personal capacities for years.
Through Adewunmi he often got briefs as a one of the legal advisers to Multichoice Nigeria Limited, operators of DSTV in Nigeria and a future competitor
He understood the dynamics of the business and how to broker deals with content providers.
By using the premiership as the main driver of its business, they could quickly rack up subscribers and gradually get them exposed to other contents that they had.
Nigerians were already used to watching premiership wherever they were.
Location did not matter, so long as you owned a decoder and a dish.
It will also mean setting up shops in every part of the country, where it wants to broadcast.
If not handled strategically, they could rile subscribers even before they started
"We are now on Eutelsat W4 on a spot beam that covers the whole country. Nigerians will thus be able to view all our channels nationwide."
They also knew football was mostly during the weekends and quickly faded once the games were over.
DSTV offered one-year subscription but you only had to pay for 11 months. The 12th month was free, but you had to pay for decoders.
In hindsight, this was perhaps a wrong move.
They entered beast mode and deployed all the content in its arsenal to ensure it kept the loyalty of its subscribers.
Nigerians now had a choice to make and DSTV made sure it wasn't going to be a zero sum game.
To appease, their wives and kids, soccer loving Dad’s had no choice but to own both a HiTV decoder and a DSTV decoder.
It will be the first major defence thrown at HiTV. A sign, that DSTV was not about to be pushed aside so soon
It was a tall order
The company had major service delivery issues. Complaints flooded their customer service centers from all parts of the country.
Customers became accustomed to going for days without service after making payments.
They were more scrambled channels than content
Quality of viewing soon dropped and service disruptions became a norm.
The opening thread encapsulated the major complaints being experienced by Nigerians.
The thread was vicious
The second part will be live sometime this week.
You can follow this story via this hashtag #NMCorporatestory or NMCorporatestories to get also get our previous episodes
Do remember to retweet the first tweet on your timeline and let us know if you missed anything.
Until we meet again for part 2, enjoy the rest of your day.
Others close to him reveal his high tastes for expensive designer wears, including wrist watches and shoes.
"HITV was never set up to sell football only; it was circumstances that led us to use football at inception as our mainstay content. "
But HiTV did not just rely on sports.
The media soon observed, HiTV’s reliance football as a downside risk and pressed its young CEO on the way forward.
HiTV did respond with a slew of organic channels.
"They cried for over fifteen years that nobody could do the business but HITV has proven them wrong and now they're talking about courts. Did they ever take DSTV to court?”
Unfortunately, HiTV investors who were filled with mistrust and selfish motives had other plans.
The stock market was in a boom in 2008, when talks began for an equity raise.
Every word embedded in regulatory filings and board minutes are appreciated for its worth. Those who prepared for days like these typically end up winning
HiTv responded through its legal counsel that they had a case in court against GTB claiming “the improper sale of the UEFA rights along with other issues concerning its relationship with GTBank"
GTB also had another claim.
It was a bitter ending
Hindsight they say is 20/20
Sometimes all the big cat needs to do is wait patiently till you run out of steam