Bright Echefu Ikechukwu had a dream. The dream was simple and was based on what he knew Nigerians wanted. He called it TSTV when he told the world. Nigerians, by the way, refers to the young and the young at heart. It is safe to say Echefu would have beaten any candidate in an election if the vote was limited to the youths when he announced that project.
The project was a cable TV service with a decoder that also doubled as a wireless hotspot. Imagine this, Telecom Satellites TV, TSTV, was going to offer subscribers a world-class cable TV with Internet data bundled into your subscription to boot. It wasn’t just that, the premium package cost just a fraction of what the biggest pay-tv service charge each month.
N3000, a subscriber is guaranteed the best in movies, news, music channels, cartoons, and get this, Live Football! And not just any live match, but the cream of European football, the English Premier League (EPL).
And the icing on the cake? You get 20GB the first time you get the dish and decoder installed for just
Apart from a few skeptics, all Nigerians lined up to support Bright Echefu and his pay TV. Even the government was represented at the launch of the service by the Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed. The government even attempted to steal Echefu’s thunder by granting him an unprecedented 3 years tax break.
Then the waiting game started. 6 months later, TSTV are yet to commence commercial sales of their decoders.
The litany of excuses
Several days after the high profile launch of TSTV, Nigerians starting having misgivings about the station. Questions of where to get decoders were parried easily by the company on their online social forums.
First, they informed an anxious populace that they needed to recruit, register, and train their dealers and installers nationwide before the commercial sales would start. An incredulous nation bought that excuse.
A month later, they came up with the ‘test transmission’ excuse. Fans were encouraged to watch the service free of charge for the next one month. Maybe they didn’t see the irony in that. Now they were asking people to buy unbranded decoders that cost about
N10k to watch the test transmission of a service that costs N5k.
Bright Echefu and TSTV were becoming a joke.
The next excuse was trying to sign deals with foreign content providers to transmit some shows in Nigeria. The gist from them was they needed to get everything almost perfect to give Nigerians the best cable TV experience in the world. By this point though, most people already knew that live football matches like the EPL were a no-show. They simply don’t have the rights. That belongs to a rival pay-tv service.
This implied TSTV used false information as a business strategy. If the short-term plan was to get as many Nigerians as possible excited about the project, it worked beyond their dreams. There were even reports that many people across the country dismantled their existing Cable TV installation. Some simply refused to resubscribe. They were all waiting for TSTV.
Even telecoms companies were apprehensive the service would lure away data subscribers with their cheap plans. 1GB for just
N300, if you wanted to buy extra data, was something as close to Nirvana as one can possibly get in a country where data prices are on the high side.
Spare a thought for the Super Dealers
Supporters of TSTV never miss an opportunity to point out that the company should be given an endless rope to get their act together. After all, it is not as if they collected a dime from anybody.
But what about the super dealers and dealers nationwide?
Last year, owing to the hype around the service, there was an almighty scramble by businessmen who saw an opportunity to make a killing. The conditions they had to meet to become dealers were not a problem. They knew the only problem would be if they would have enough decoders to sell to Nigerians when the time came. The projected demand was off the charts.
To register as a Super dealer, you would have to make a financial commitment of N12 million. That came to 3000 decoders sold to them at N4000. A look at 10 states including Lagos and Abuja showed 30 verified dealers. That is a cool N360 million from super dealers in just 10 States. As reported on numerous occasions by Nigerian News, that is close to the amount Olisah Metuh is being prosecuted by the government.
I’m pretty sure Bright Echefu didn’t set out to steal anybody’s money. Things though are sure looking bad for him. Shit would definitely hit the fan the longer this mess is allowed to go on. Hopefully, he has brought the super dealers fully on board. Revealing everything that is going on including informing them of a clear timeline for commencement of full operations would calm some jittery nerves.
For now, though, it is safe to say that Nigerians won’t be rushing out in droves to buy the decoders when it eventually comes out. TSTV lost all the initial goodwill it generated with those lies. If they lied about all these, you can be sure more lies would come to light when the decoders hit the market.