DStv launches its streaming only service in South Africa, the pricing doesn’t make sense

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DStv Xplora Ultra

Recently pay-TV giant DStv launched their much-awaited streaming-only service in South Africa. This was after repeated delays. They had promised they would launch in the earlier this year but then COVID happened. This means that subscribers no longer need to have a dish in order to view content as long as they have an internet connection that’s fast enough. That makes sense, it’s the twenty-first century after all.

What doesn’t make sense is the pricing that DStv has chosen to go with. Below is a price comparison between what customers are being asked to pay for the streaming-only service versus what they already pay for the traditional dish setup.

DStv PackageStreaming only Price per monthTraditional Dish setup price per month
DStv EasyViewR29R29
DStv AccessR110R110
DStv FamilyR279R279
DStv CompactR399R399
DStv Compact PlusR529R529
DStv PremiumR819R819
Add MoviesR99R99
Add DStv IndiaR269R395
A whole lot of nothing

To say this is dissappointing is an understatement. The whole reason why people were eagerly waiting for the streaming only service was because they thought somehow it would be cheaper. It’s a sensible expectation when you think about it.

The biggest cost component for MultiChoice in the traditional dish setup is the satellite rental costs that they have to pay so as to get bandwidth which they need to beam signals across the continent. A streaming-only service removes those costs from the equation as customers pay for their own pipes. This would have supposedly led to a reduction in costs that customers were expecting to be reflected in the final asking price.

Instead we have parity. That’s what you would think at first glance but you would be wrong. Streaming customers are getting the shortend of the stick here. Why? Consider this. Customers who opt for the dish setup have traditionally been given DStv Now access for free.

The service which DStv recently rebranded from DStv Now to just DStv (presumably in preparation for this launch) allows customers who pay for their dish subscriptions to stream content for free. Customers have access to the same channels they have in their bouquet. So if you opt to go this route you will not only have access to these channels the normal dish way, you can also stream them at the same time. In many households this is an easy way to reduce the famous remote wars.

There is literary no reason for you to choose the streaming only service. If all you want to do is stream content using your Explora, smart TV or Android TV box, then you can just choose the traditional package and forgo installing the dish. You will still be asked to pay the same price anyway. However, if you do decide to have a dish installed, say after moving to an area with poor internet, there will be no awkward paperwork to fill.

In fact, if you have a rural or holiday home the old way of doing things makes even more sense. Rural homes are usually located in areas where there is zero or expensive mobile internet. You can just have a dish installed there and stream content in your urban house where the internet is likely to be more good. You only get to pay one bill for your troubles without violating any terms. MultiChoice has always advertised streaming as something you can do on the move or in your home as long as it’s in-home settings you are not violating terms.

Expect nothing less in Zimbabwe

It seems, like all new good things, this is still a South African only thing. Us Zimbabweans, as always have to wait expectantly until scraps fall north of the border. Expect similar pricing when the service does come to Zimbabwe if it ever officially comes here. They could do it the way they did with Showmax. Launch it with the option that allows Zimbabweans to sign up but claim it’s not officially supported.

Why the pricing?

A lot of people were left scratching their heads when the pricing for the service was revealed. What could have been going through the minds of the executives who came up with this pricing strategy? Many reasons came up but a few stood out:

  • They’re not innit: MultiChoice has made its mark and fame through digital satellite programming. On a continent where good internet is expensive and confined to urban locales, they just don’t have an incentive to create a good viable streaming service. They are just being half-hearted in their effort.
  • Just join the fray and be done with it: competitors including StarTimes already have a streaming app. Netflix has an app too which has been a thorn in their side. So they were like, why not, let’s just launch a service and put our foot through the door. When this thing becomes a thing we will have a portal through which we can go and conquer.
  • Expensive data-centre costs: they did not realise any cost savings at all as satellite rental costs are likely to be fixed. In fact, in preparation for a surge in people streaming they might actually have ended up expending more resources. The price is a way of expressing their disapproval for this model of doing things.
  • Football monopoly got to their heads: Multichoice has exclusive football rights that make them gods. Competitors will have a hard time breaking that hold and the pricing of their services always reflects that football monopoly power. If you don’t care for football you can always go the Netflix route but those who worship on the altar of the world’s most popular game cannot escape the pay-TV giant’s claws.

Don’t care for UEFA? Then Showmax Pro awaits you

I am one of those people who simply stopped subscribing to DSTV a few years ago. I am not sure about the exact date but one day I just decided it wasn’t worth it. I particularly despised being asked for the privilege of pausing and recording shows.

Then I discovered ShowMax. You still get the same Mzansi content but you don’t have to be told when it’s airing, you can just hit the play button whenever you want. If you get sick of watching a show, you just hit the back button and wait until you have gathered enough courage to go through another cheap Lokshin Bioskop production.

Here is the kicker, Showmax will cost you less than the cost you pay for DStv’s PVR! Yet you don’t have to remember to record anything here. The content is uploaded as soon as it finishes airing on DStv and you can watch it whenever it’s convenient for you. You can even watch shows like The River and Legacy that are only available on DStv Premium.

This year, Showmax got even better. For double the price, about $18, you can watch all the major football games from Europe’s major leagues except the UEFA Champions League. That is a much better option for people like me who dabble in football and cannot stay up to watch a live UEFA Champions League match. That’s way past my bedtime so I don’t care.

If you are like me, then Showmax Pro it is. If the Champions League is something you cannot live without, then get your dish installed like a normal person. Or like a real Millenial, just borrow your parent’s DStv (Now) account and enjoy premium for free. It’s not like they are using it anyway.


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  1. Tatefx

    Techzim very funny guys

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