Evolve or die. That is most certainly the mantra when it comes to the platforms that offer that entertainment to audiences. Look no further than Multichoice, whose DStv satellite service was once the sole kingpin of the local broadcast scene, but with the advent of streaming services in South Africa, it’s become a bit of an ageing relic to many.
With outdated movies and TV series lagging behind international release dates (though admittedly DStv made some good strides here) and content deals resulting in numerous repeats, DStv has been haemorrhaging viewers. In Multichoice’s own report on their 2019/2020 financial results, the broadcaster revealed that while it’s increased its foothold overall by an extra 900 000 subscribers over the last year, its DStv Premium package – which is now starting to approach R1000 per month – has been losing in the region of 100 000 subscribers year on year. Arguably, many of the subscribers who are still sticking around or signing up are doing so largely because of DStv’s monopoly on sport (DStv screens more live sport than any broadcaster in the world!), particularly when it comes to South African favourites of rugby and cricket, which are only available on the Premium package. Many not obsessed by sport though (or unable to afford broadband internet) are jumping ship to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. So will DStv beat them? Simple: Join them. Or rather, have them join it.
That’s the plan revealed in that same financial report, with the broadcaster looking to follow the example of other international peers by bundling Netflix and Amazon Prime Video with its DStv Premium subscription, along with its already owned Showmax streaming service. Before you get too excited though, while Showmax is currently free to any Premium subscribers, it’s probably safe to not expect the same for these international streaming services. If the same model is followed as is used by some other broadcasters in the likes of the US and the UK, these services will still be available on their own, directly to subscribers, their current prices, but DStv Premium subscribers will probably be able to bolt Netflix and Amazon Prime onto their existing packages at a discounted rate.
Even if no such discount applies, there are still benefits. While Netflix has offered pricing in Rands ever since the service officially launched in South Africa a few years back, Amazon Prime is still charging in dollars. And as I can attest personally, thanks to our wildly fluctuating exchange rate, this can become a hugely expensive cost rather rapidly at times. By bundling up these services, Multichoice allows their DStv Premium subscribers to pay one price to one vendor in local currency every month. On top of that, much like how you can currently switch to Showmax on the fly from within the DStv platform, the same level of integration for Netflix and Amazon Prime will be built right into the DStv Explora decoder thanks to deals signed with the streaming services. That’s a level of convenience that will be very much appreciated given that a noticeable portion of the 19.5 million households across its continental Africa userbase may not be that tech-savvy.
As Multichoice CEO Calvo Mawela tells News24, this is all part of the broadcaster’s plan to become a “super aggregator” of content.
We have long been a content aggregator, and this is proof of our aggregator model at work – providing simplicity, choice and convenience for our customers.
As our industry evolves, we believe that we are well-positioned to benefit from both worlds – a large, growing pay-TV market in Africa, as well as an emerging over-the-top (OTT) opportunity, where our own OTT services and aggregation capabilities can drive success.
Further steps in this strategy involve Multichoice rolling out its “dish-less” streaming only DStv service. Without the need of a costly satellite dish installation, this will be a slightly cheaper alternative for households that already have a fast enough internet service. Of course, more tech-inclined households – like my own – have already implemented its own solutions at a fraction of the cost. My father has a DStv Premium subscription which also entitles him to stream via the DStv Now mobile app on up to five different devices. So my brother and I split the cost of the monthly subscription with my father, using two Android TV mediaboxes running the DStv Now app each, leaving my father one device for himself on top of the many decoders he has in his house. Three households then get DStv Premium at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, our setup will not work for all households which is why DStv still has such a huge userbase. And admittedly, it offers a substantial amount of local entertainment not found anywhere else. In the last year alone Multichoice has produced 28 local dramas, 13 telenovelas and 17 comedies, and it plans to launch four new local content channels to help meet its 2022 goal of having its content be 45% local. And following the huge success of Trackers – a first-of-its-kind co-production between DStv’s M-Net, US cable network HBO’s sister company Cinemax, and German broadcaster ZDF – Multichoice will be launching two new international co-productions with Blood Psalms and Rogue.
There’s a lot more that Multichoice has in store, and you can check out the full presentation for yourself over HERE. Is it all enough to keep you on DStv if you’re still a subscriber? Or maybe you’ve left and this is enticing you back? Or have you cut ties long time ago and never looking back?
Last Updated: June 11, 2020