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With banks cancelling DStv payments left, right and centre, and considering that DStv is quite expensive you might be considering alternatives that offer a better or at least a more cost-effective entertainment experience.
Kwese came on to the scene and hasn’t done a much better job… Yes, you can pay with bond notes but the pricing hasn’t been the bone of contention when it comes to Kwenga. Issues have arisen because of content (or lack thereof). The content on offer is believed by some to be so poor that it doesn’t matter how much they charge for it.
With that in mind, we will be looking at some other alternatives you can turn to if you are no longer able to pay the subscription or you are just tired of what’s on offer.
I think the most underrated aspect of streaming devices/services their expansive libraries is the fact you never actually have to follow a program guide or risk missing out on the services you like watching. You watch what you want when you want unless what you want is Game of Thrones Season 8. That’s not out yet. So what do these streaming services offer??
The most popular streaming is Netflix and if you sign up what are you getting? Well, you’re getting popular shows like House Of Cards, Punisher, Narcos, Orange is the new Black, Stranger Things and honestly, I could go on and on and on. The Zimbabwean version of Netlfix has 208 shows and 483 movies to choose from (at the time of writing). This is only a fraction of the total 13 500+ shows on offer but some content is region specific which is why we don’t have everything. Netflix still has a lot more “quality” content to pick from, compared to satellite TV and with the added benefit of being able to watch the shows when you are free instead of having to free up time to watch, I would still pick it over traditional TV. With subscription starting out as low as $10 and the most premium packages topping off at $16.99 it’s clear the service is much cheaper than DStv…
Apart from Netflix, there are other options such as Amazon Prime, iflix, and Redbull TV which have their own separate libraries of content which you can watch whenever you feel like it. There are other popular services such as HBO or Playstation Vue but unfortunately, these are not available in Zimbabwe.
A wealth of options…
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick is a streaming device, that looks like a slightly oversized USB stick and despite its relatively small size it packs in some pretty cool features considering that you have to part with only $39 to buy one.
On one end of the Fire TV Stick is an HDMI port and on the other is a USB port. Though the design looks uninspiring, no one will ever actually get to see the Fire TV Stick considering that this will spend the majority of its life connected to your TV. It comes with a tiny remote that has some cool voice controls and a few set of buttons that would have you think it can’t do much but that would be judging a book by its cover. The remote actually has voice capabilities which means it acts as a mic for Amazon Alexa commands and this means you can go through menus and programs using your voice, if talking to your TV doesn’t seem weird to you. You’ll probably be forced to use the mic, as typing using a remote is not the greatest
When it comes to content, you’ll have more than enough choice as you can choose from Amazon Prime, Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. All of these come with “huge” libraries that mean you’ll never run out of things to watch and with Netflix subscriptions as low as $10.99 per month you’ll be spoilt for choice.
There’s no 4K capabilities which means if you have a 4K TV you may want to opt for the more expensive variants of the Fire TV but it’s safe to assume that most of us don’t have 4K TVs in Zim so this won’t be a major deal breaker.
Google Chromecast costs even less, coming in at $35 dollars. The design is definitely more interesting than that of the Fire TV but depending on your outlook that’s probably of secondary concern.
Like the Fire TV, it connects to your TV via HDMI and this comes with no remote… Yup, you use your phone to actually control the Chromecast through the Chromecast App on your Android or iOS device.
Like Fire TV you can stream from a number of services- Netflix, Redbull TV, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Twitch (if you’re into gaming) more depending on which services you decide to install. As aforementioned, all of these come with their own distinct libraries and they ensure that users will be spoilt for choice.
Roku Streaming Stick
Roku has their own streaming stick, and with a price tag of $50 it’s the most expensive device on this list. There’s still no 4K and for that, you should be prepared to spend closer to the $100 price point.
Roku’s stick has a good mobile app that acts as a companion and allows you to type in search boxes using your phone. The app is not required like it is on the Google Chromecast but it is good to have it anyway.
In terms of content, the same things you get on the Amazon and Chromecast are here. Amazon, Google Play, Netflix, Hulu, Twitch, Redbull TV, Sling and BBC iPlayer are all on offer though you have to subscribe for each one independently. There are also a number of free channels with the aforementioned Redbull TV being one of them.
What should be clear at this point is that these devices are hubs that enable you to access content from a variety of services, so when you are thinking Chromecast vs Roku you should not think of that as you would DStv vs Kwese where you are directly comparing content. These streaming devices will give you similar content (for the most part) but in slightly different ways.
“There are more capable devices!”
Now there are certainly more specced-out devices but the reason why I chose to keep everything on this list under the $150 price point is that though these streaming devices are on the less expensive side, most of you will understand that quality internet in Zim is not. Actually, it is quite expensive, and if you are interested in unlimited packages more often than not you find yourself spending around $100 or more.
“Is this cheaper than DStv?”
Of course, it varies, from person to person but I think it’s a safe bet to say that streaming is actually more expensive than DStv or any satellite service in Zimbabwe because of the data situation. Of course, you could stream at a lower resolution but once you start making these compromises, that’s a clear sign of how limited the options are. If data gets cheaper (and the assumption is it will) then these services are a no-brainer but as long as data is expensive I think streaming services –although great- will play second fiddle to the king i.e. satellite…
Oh and the issue of soccer… Satellite TV is still the only legal way of watching live sports events and because this is the case they will have a large portion of viewers for a long time. If you don’t care about live sport, however, it might be a good idea to try out these options…