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DSTV’s unfair pricing model

dstvLike most men I like sports; I find Test cricket and the UEFA Champions league particularly interesting. I also like Nature and History documentaries although I care little for gossip news or “reality” televisions shows like Idols and X-factor. Under no circumstances will you find me watching Big Brother or Race. No one in our home watches these shows. They simply do not interest us as they might do to some people. I find it galling therefore that, under the current arrangement with MultiChoice, I have to pay for a lot of channels that I do not like just so I can watch sports.

Under the current pricing regime channels are grouped into bouquets which are “tailored” to suit different needs. Ostensibly this is so that people can choose a bouquet that they can afford. Conspicuously absent from these low priced bouquets however are the most popular sporting channels (most SuperSport channels) which are instead only found under the DStv premium bouquet.

The DStv premium bouquet has about 119 channels. In any given month few people ever get to watch even half of these. Why would I want to watch the RTP channel when I don’t understand a single word of Portuguese? I think being forced to pay for channels that you will never watch so that you will have the ones that you want is unjust. It would only be just if the current price oriented bouquets are replaced by a system where people pay per channel.

I am sure everyone has their tastes when it comes to watching Television. I have aunts, uncles and cousins who will do anything to watch entertainment news or reality television. I am still to find anyone who likes the Travel and Blackbelt channels though. Instead of having channels arbitrarily put into bouquets a price tag should be placed on channels and an opportunity given to people to choose what they want to watch and pay for it.

Another alternative would be to use the pay per view model where subscribers pay for only those programs that they watch instead of flat billing. This would be similar to the way that Internet companies charge for their data – per megabyte. DStv does indeed have this pricing model which they use on their Box Office and DStv on Demand products. At the moment however the services are restricted to South Africa as the rest of us are left to wallow and long for the day that this service will be availed to us. People would for example only pay for the games their team is playing in and ignore the rest of the games.

I think DStv pay per channel would be a popular package if only Multi Choice would consider introducing it.

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66 thoughts on “DSTV’s unfair pricing model

  1. You echo my personal sentiments too. I only watch BBC Knowledge, Discoevery, Discovery World and thats about it.

    And since I stay alone and only get enough time to watch Dragon’s Den and Top gear a day I feel quite cheated.

    However knowing that this wont be changing soon my question is how long will it be before we finally get to Hack Multi Choice to get what we expect of its service. I spend R650 (HELL LOT OF RAND!!!!) on Sat Tv that I dont ever get to watch even with the PVR functionality.

  2. I believe they do this to average costs and make the bouquets affordable to a wider range of people. Sports channel content is typically more expensive for cable and satelite companies to procure compared to reality tv show and documentary channels. so instead of you having to pay $90 for sports only while others pay $25 for soaps and reality tv they average the cost and combine the channels into bouquets that can meet the needs of a general population at cost of around $55. You the sports lover can watch his sport a subsidised rate and your wife children and aunties all benefit as well and DStv makes a bit of money on advertising to a complete demographic.

    1. I’d Personally hand over my hard earned money for having to pay 75% less if I can pick the premeium channels I need.

      I dont mind paying for example R400 for having to chose only the channels I need and have all the other nonsencical clutter out.

      I get CNBCA, BBC K and Discovery . All the music channels get scrapped sport channels I pick SS1 and scrap all the other channels

      then have my Local Channels. Now that would be an ideal package for me.

      But then to be fair and honest such a model will never be intriduced unless the industry intrduces fair competition to dilute MultiChoice dominance / monopoly at the moment.

  3. Agreed mate esp for soccer fanatics, to amplify your point, Compact for SA has supersport 3 and 4, which covers European and domestic, why does then DSTV zim give you zero supersport on compact and worse still give you supersport 4 and 7, why not SS3 and SS9 so that we also have a fair share of domestic and european. Yet the prices in the two countries are comparable

    1. I know S3 shows EPL which SS did not get the rights to broadcast outside SA. Remember a certain pay TV channel (Go TV?) had the rights if I am not mistaken to broadcast rest of Africa and SS lost out? Also, we do not watch the same channels as everybody else in Africa yet we are on the same bouquet. I think Nickeldon (sic) and a couple of movie channels are not on the SA list but are available everywhere else.

  4. I concur. But they’re in it for the money. And they wouldnt have one package that gives you all. If you are a sports lover, DSTV is certainly a good investment.

    I just cant justify the donations.

    I stopped subscribing after sitting down and thinking what the heck do I need this for? Coz I am also a discovery,documentary, history, science freak. I follow sport moderately and can live with non-live highlights. All else is just nehhh….

    For movies and certain series, I can rely on other sources.

    The US pay-per-view model is the best IMHO, which is what I think Box Office and DsTV on demand attempt to address.

    TopTV tried to compete with them and is struggling. The DStv guys are miles ahead in the game, its hard to fight even the band.

    I am also a current affairs junky, so I miss the news channels. Maybe one day I will go back to them on compact if it has all news and my other fav channels.

    For now, my home entertainment is gaming, own media sources and other activities.

    So far so good.

    Packaged TV subscriptions can be annoying distractions by the way. So my work doesnt miss it 🙂

    1. That awkward moment when you say you have TopTv and everyone looks at you and silently thinks you love P07n that much lol. Thats were they stuffed up.

      1. Lol. Well I know no one who actually watches it or rather no one has been honest enough to confess.

        Even when you walk into a place like Game/Makro, no one lingers around TopTV settop boxes or specials.

        The DStv brand is too strong. Even if the more popular US ppv tried to come here, I doubt they’d make it.

        Personally, the less TV for me the better. I’d rather strum on a guitar on my few songs and pretend to be good.

  5. As long as there is no competition then we must expect to be ripped off. I pay for channels that I do not watch or like. Dstv changes a premium because it is the only provider. Introduce 2 or 3 competitors, then things will change.

    1. There is a regulator who should act as a surrogate consumer and proxy for competition. Sadly, they occupy offices and have limited notions of what they should be doing. So we’re damned!

      1. I will never trust regulators to look after out 4 me. They are more likely to want a cut from the co than think of me. FYI the BAZ is the regulator when was the last time they consultated u. Think of the things ZTV gets away with.

  6. DSTV is ripping off Zimbabwe….its about R675 for premium in SA yet here I pay $88 (R880) for the exact same channels!…And with the ever weakening rand their profits shall only get bigger thanks to us.

    Im so happy fibre is slowly creeping into our homes so in about 5 years when our ISPs actually price the internet in a not so greedy fashion I’ll be able to completely cut off DSTV, get a netbox and stream only the things that I want in high def for a fraction of the price!

      1. :-c now that you calculated the amount of money it costs me to have DSTV a year. I will hunt you down, find you, hold your head in my hand. And I will …. I will… nah f$#% it. Im not going to pay for my DSTV package and save that amount of money.

        1. its a total RIP-OFF. For those in SA, here is wat you can do with 10K at home.

          Once of setup: Total Cost R5,348


          1. Buy yourself a good second hand P4 computer with wireless keboard and mouse – R1,500
          2. Add an HDMI interface to it. – R1,000
          3. Add 2 extra internal Hardrives (2TB space is good) – R2,000
          4. Start collecting ALL the series your friends have. you will be shocked how many hours you will need to watch all that stuff. – FREE
          5. Buy WIFI router for your other devices at home (phones, laptops, Tablets etc) – R500 or still use WifiHotspotCreator (FREE)
          6. Pay DSTV Easyview for full year (just for SABC channels + eTV) – R348
          7. Enjoy and forget about EPL or La Liga (you can always watch the highlights on SS Blitz, which is available on DSTV Easy view

          8. Watch anything you want on the internet. No restrictions.

          Recurring Cost – Total R2,365 every year.

          9. Pay Afrihost UNCAPPED Internet – R197 @ 1 Mbps

          1. Gaart damn sir, you on point. I have just about everything you have noted down. I didnt know about the EasyView option. I have quite a beefy line

            I used to download stuff to my xBOX and LAN through to my desktop but then finding those named friends who have just the stuff I want to watch was hard.

            I dont watch movies (AT ALL) , have gone through several attempts of murder from my GF for that. I dont watch Series its weird enough that I dont watch movies. I only need TV for documentaries and havent found a buddy with all the kind of Quality and intresting content as Discovery and BBC K leaving me with the idea that I am currently trying to explore.

            I have a Raspberry Bi with a Wifi board at the moment I use it as a Google Tv replica (works like a charm). I plan to hoook it up to my premium decorder and record the content I plan to watch onto my HDD and watch it later (Saves me the PVR R79) . I then lease out potions or rather the use of my decorder to others (The second ilegal part) who find the other channels useful, my flat/complex member for a fee. They also can log the shows they want to see and according to the slots available their shows will be recorded too. Now if consider such a setup as a mesh-network a communal installation setup and its DSTV folks will based on numbers have to pay less for their DSTV and I make some …..

            If this happens to be read by a multi-choice official. Please I am simply jocking around. But iactual fact most of my dreams come true

          2. Add Hulu or Netflix for about $8-$10 a month for “unlimited” movies/tv series! And WD 2TB (R999) and WD 3TB (1200) on Makro/Game limited (usually 1st 1000 buyers in most cases) specials (you have to REALLY REALLY watch out for those leaflets every week!!!)

    1. In less than 5 years if we stop Biti from transferring USF funds to “national projects” with unfelt benefit to the citizen.

      1. We all moaning about DSTV here also. But ADSL is pretty expensive and not many people can afford it yet. ADSL is still for the “upper” middle class so till it becomes more widespread as in US will we get MC rethink their pricing policy. IN the meanwhile, MC still charges what it wants how it wants till data prices come down. I know a guy at work who uses at least 100-120GB per month to download movies/tv series plus music at his place on an unlimited account. But then again Box Office is a sham compared to what you can get on Hulu or Nteflix.

  7. In response to a similar blog post, @DstvCare replied on twitter saying: “To subscribe to a personal selection of channels rather than a fixed DStv bouquet wouldn’t reduce subscription fees but would in fact make the service unaffordable for most subscribers. The DStv bouquets and size of its audience base create an ‘economies of scale’ benefit when acquiring channels and savings are passed on to subscribers. There would also be a significant cost associated with the development, implementation and administration of the broadcast and back-end systems.”


    1. And u believed them and took them on their word. Just coz someone said something doesn’t make it true. Remember Chidhumo never admitted he was guilty.

      1. who said anyone believed them? Usually, in journalism, you get a response from all parties when you print an article. This blogger forgot/couldnt/didnt get a response from DSTV.

        mu guguli only posted the link and response.

        who the hell is Chidhumo?

  8. I want to pay for only the PROGRAMS I enjoy! I only enjoy WipeOut (USA), My Wife and Kids, Vegas and Golf, why should I pay for everything else (Soccer, Movies, Cartoons, Radio, Soapies, Documentaries)?

  9. ….and most evenings there will be no zesa. the whole month can lapse without having watched DSTV, imagine!

    1. I wouldnt pay, if that were my situation. If you feel ripped off, leave the service. It wasnt worth it for me, so I left.

      What mu guguli and mwanawevhu85 said sums it all up for you. There are business & viability issues involved. Primary reason they are in it is profit. The bouquets are the best they can do for their customers and to then remain as profitable as they would like to be.

      If, like me, you dont ike the sound of that, unsubscribe or wait for some new bouquet or pay-per-view option or a competitor with the right package for you.

        1. Yeah if only ZESA told u in advance wat they were gonna do to u. ” ‘Ey oke u r going 2 spent the entire month in the dark. Sorry mufetu we will be repairing the thing at Kariba so no DSTV this month. Huh.|

  10. I think the biggest issue that your article misses is the fact that there is an apparent segregation between what Zimbabweans and South Africans have to pay. As Kurai says, compact for SA has supersport 3 and 4 while in Zimbabwe all you get are those old boxing channels on ESPN classic. Its completely unfair and is the reason why thousands of Zimbabweans hold South African subscriptions (that and Muvhango, of course.) In my opinion, this is an entirely sueable matter, because of which I sometimes wish I was a lawyer.

    While pay per view may seem like a good idea, I can envisage a few problems in the proposition. Those who have prepaid internet from econet of africom will tell you that its heartbreaking to have one’s eyes ever glued on the meter….

    1. pay per click in this context would mean yu choose ONLY the channels you want to watch and you pay for them. if i am a sport guy with no kids, why am i paying for Disney Junior and Cartoon network, worse still some Aljazeera and BBC hogwash!!

  11. DSTV is hell expensive. I disconnected mine when EPL ended. Got 20GB of cartoons, 400Gb of series….so both kid and wife are happy…for now! When they are finished, will pirate more on I pay R200 for internet every month, its enough for my needs. @#$$%% Multichoice.

      1. How about 5TB? Have a friend who bought legally from europe appletv,hulu,netflix and gave me a backup to keep safely 😀

          1. 5TB? Dude, I know guys here in CT who live on just downloading stuff. They have their on SANS in place. Talking of 6 x 3TB drives stacked in on one pc multiplied by 5 – 6 computers. And growing!! It’s a business actually. Sells the movies on the street. Gets from various torrent sites and has 2 uncapped net accounts. He is the main distributor for some street guys and yes he is making a killing! Simply put, King Pirate at work.

  12. …and if you think its only the monthly fee, just lose your remote and try to buy one from them….crazy price. Its R100 less than the price of a new decoder with remote.

  13. Funny how they always compare themselves to international standards but shun these when it comes to pricing. in the uk for example you get to choose a particular group of channels which can be added to a basic package e.g they will give you opportunity to choose documentaries, music, movies or realty as extras onto a basic package. you will find they will be under pressure to sort themselves out if it someone comes on board. toptv model is much better just that it lacks sports. that’s a typical proper pay tv set up

  14. unfortunately it would lead to very expensive pricing per channel as in the UK where you can pay anything up to 40 pounds for a pay per view match

  15. It’s all about the competition if there was more choice dstv and the like would be forced to provide better service and be less cavalier. The rise of the internet will also sort many of these issues.

    1. In Zimbabwe, let’s talk say in 5-8 more years when data prices have come down to earth. Definitely not affordable. How much will it cost you to download/watch the whole season of Game of Thrones in HD? The files I have are almost 1.2GB big each times 10 episodes = 12GB. Times the cost per GB. Zim still far from that unless you get a premium account from one of the ISPs but then again you pay through your nose for those. Even here in SA, most people cannot afford ADSL. Still expensive for the majority. MC still has time to cream subscribers till data prices really crash.

  16. i agree with you 100%, they are reaping us here and something need to be done,to correct this wrong.

  17. Shamwari isu mari yacho tinayo kana usina ita zvinoenderana nemari yako kwete kuswera uchingochema.

      1. i think this guy haana mari he is just the arrogant type with a few 100s to spare in his pocket, not real $$$.
        ive found pple with $$ ndovasingade zvinodhura

  18. I think some of you folks are now just being … yeah well slow. MultiChoice is a Multi National. Stop trying to match other countries. There are reasons why there is DSTV South Africa, DSTV ZW etc. Now shut up. You are a customer in Zimbabwe and are getting what the company thinks logical for Zimbabwe. Stop comparing yourself to Hulu , NetFlix and No you are not the same with South Africa, Nigeria or whatever other country hence you have diffrent prices even for your internet, food etc.

    1. I diasgree with @Nerudo:disqus.Multichoice takes us Zimbos for granted. For less money South Africans get a much better deal and this is a fact. dstv decoders are given for next to nothing in SA compared to what we buy them for here. in their universe Multichoice sees Zimbabwe as a just a small part of their market. South africans benefit from wider promotions etc. When did you ever see any zimbo wining something on their BBA shows for instance.

  19. in every society we have minorities so this business model other than lining the pockets of naspers its also to allow dstv to provide a wide variety of content that minority viewers like. for content to be available on tv it has to be developed that takes money, so basically if dstv and company use that same model there wont be channels by a minority. there will be only money for what the majority want. thats the price u pay for democracy. well something like that

  20. I have an HDPVR decoder and subscribe for the compact bouqet. i pay the extra cost to get the PVR function but still can`t enjoy the HD function. Same channels in HD are on compact eg Discovery World and SS3 but get them in SD because in i`m pay for compact WHAT A RIP OFF.

  21. Thanks Shamwari, you have argued your facts very well, DSTV, PLEASE RESPOND,
    its like he has spoken on behalf of everybody

  22. Unfortunately DSTV is not a charity or open to its viewers opnions about bouquet structure. Yes they are arrogant and they know we have only two choices (take their offerings or unsubscribe). So my advice to all is either unsubscribe or take what they offer. Sad but thats the reality of monopolies.

  23. Please may the people fom DSTV comment. We might just waste our energy when they do not want to change the arrangement as it pays them more. Paying per channel would be much cheaper. They should just tell us the minimum number of channels.

  24. “… It would only be just if the current price oriented bouquets are replaced by a system where people pay per channel….”

    point taken

  25. Interesting, same logic should work for newspapers: Just buy the sports pages and leave the rest of the paper? It does not work that way!

    1. Anozoverenga Herald racho ndiani. we would just buy all the classifieds and ignore the rest.

  26. l have always found it weird that you are forced to pay for what you do not wish to view. For me, the movies, the nigerian and most of the other channels on DSTV range from trash to filler material, of no real value to me.

    Personally if l could pick and choose, l would opt for the news, sports and documentary channels. Maybe it may seem extreme but as a person living in an one person household these suit me perfectly.

    l just do not know why DSTV does not streamline their products to cater for people such as myself, l would no doubt pay than take the free SABC option if l could find something which is custom designed for me or which allows me to tweak it to my tastes.

    To think the US and other markets have had something called pay per view for decades, ll think if DSTV were extend this to mean, pay only for the channels you actually watch or better yet for the actual time you use the decoder to watch something, then that would be real value.

    Sadly this is most likely just a fantasy, l do not see them pursuing this option as it may affect them financially. Who in their right mind would give up a known amount of income for an uncertain amount, which pay per view poses? Unless maybe the premium justifies it.

    Anyway those are just my thoughts on the matter.

  27. ln an ideal world even DSTV would be irrelevant. Take for example myself, presently somewhere in the wilderness. Due to the fact that l can access reasonably priced net at about Rand 150 uncapped each month and faster if you are willing to part with more, l can pretty watch anything l want and for no fee.

    Well l will not debate the legality or otherwise of ‘free streaming’ websites, which an IT friend warned me are also prone to viruses.

    Anyway, all l know is l can watch the cricket, the rugby,NBA and just about any sport l want live and for free. l must admit though sometimes it freezes or the sound is not so good or there is even a lag, which l have noticed when comparing with the tv. But as this is a free service, l can live with it.

    Coming to documentaries, this is a bit of a challenge, l have tried NatGeo and History etc but sometimes you get a few episodes for free or previews but the rest sadly, one has to pay for them,. The reason could also be lack of effort, l use the web strictly for sports.

    So this may be a real alternative, assuming power is available and stable and that bandwidth charges do come down considerably.

    l always chuckle to myself when l am watching rugby or cricket and l see the supersport logo and realise l am watching for free! lt really makes my day.

    Anyway just thought to share this. My final comment is if you give it enough time and effort, l am pretty sure you can watch anything in real time or slightly delayed if you do not mind. As a non- series following person or movie watching person l am not in the know. But from friends l have seen and heard them say they can download the whole season, week’s overnight or in a matter of hours.

    So for me if you have the bandwidth and invest in scouring the net for free channels, streaming channels or sites where you can download, l am 99.999% sure you can get everything you want!

    Just a thought!

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