After 25 years of boxing customers into packages depending on their tax bracket, it looks like Multichoice has finally seen the light. In a report by News24, the paid TV service is testing out “unbundling” its entertainment, sports, and movie channels in what is being called “DStv Flex”. What this essentially means is that you will be able to pick which channels you want to subscribe to with a caveat or two.
So as you can see there will be a base package that everyone will get. You can then work around what you want when it comes to sports packages and the premier movie channels.
It looks like DStv has taken the model that SlingTV uses. The service employs two base packages (Orange and Blue) with a mixture of news, entertainment and lifestyle channels. You can then add additional packages like sports, more specific entertainment and lifestyle channels depending on your content consumption.
People who don’t like sports no longer have to pay for those channels
Getting the rights to screen sports is not cheap especially when you look at the number of leagues and various types of sports available on DStv. The end result was that if you aren’t into sport but want other channels on DStv Premium, for example, your subscription would pay for programming that you don’t consume. This isn’t the only for Premium subscribers but also for those on the other packages as well.
On the other side of the argument, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is looking to make some sporting events free to air. They are doing this because accessing sports on DStv and other services is pretty expensive and ICASA is looking to classify some sports programming under “public interest”.
“There is a growing need to level the playing field between traditional broadcasting, on-demand services providers – these includes catch-up TV service, video on-demand services as well as news portals – and video-sharing platforms. It has been quite a journey to get this draft White Paper to this stage. We are steadily moving towards the implementation stage now,”Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams
The sporting events that would qualify here are mostly in the South African context. They have to have a certain number of South Africans participating and international events like the Olympics and World Cups.
Streaming had a hand in DStv Flex
Besides people crying for something like this for years, the advent of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and others I think definitely had something to with this move by Multichoice. Simply put those services give you the flexibility that programmed television doesn’t give offer. If you want to binge-watch something then it’s down to you to pick your poison.
You aren’t encumbered by schedules and you can watch it at your own pace. Now, Multichoice to its credit isn’t a dinosaur. They realised that streaming was the future and launched their very own service called Showmax. Which if I am honest is a cut above in Africa because you get the option to watch live sports over the internet and at a fraction of the cost of the DStv Compact Plus and Premium bouquets.
Multichoice also offers Catch Up to those who want to watch what they have missed. But the service is only available on certain decoders like the Explora or you can access it through the DStv app. Furthermore, DStv’s next generation of decoders the Explora Plus and the Streama Box will come with the aforementioned streaming services loaded.
The maths was never in “traditional” DStv’s favour
Showmax put Multichoice in the streaming conversation because if you do the maths. You can pay for Netflix (US$8.99 per month), Amazon Prime Video (US$5.99 per month) and enjoy sports and DStv programming on Showmax Pro for (US$17.99 per month). And your grand total will come to around US$33.00 plus VAT.
That figure is around the same amount you’d pay for DStv’s Compact Plus Bouquet (in Zimbabwe) which if we are being honest is only for those extra SuperSport channels. This is of course excluding what you’d need to pay for internet but if you are on uncapped or one of the higher pay-as-you-go bundles then why would you also pay for the traditional DStv?
Does DStv Flex balance things out?
Saying that it’s cheaper to just subscribe to a bunch of streaming services and buy expensive internet is insensitive. In Zimbabwe, it’s a tall order to afford the connection fees for fibre or even ADSL. Moreover not all areas are serviced equally which means DStv is the go-to for the majority when it comes to entertainment. So does DStv Flex make sense for those who are more likely going to adopt DStv than internet-based services?
|1. R349 p/m (Football plus other sports)
|2. R349 p/m (No Football)
|3. 499 p/m (All)
I like how DStv has realised that some people don’t like Football. It was unfair for those who didn’t care much for the sport to have to pay for it. In this spread, everyone is catered for to a degree and I’ll get to this in a bit but let’s look at price comparisons.
Under the proposed prices which are for the South African market by the way. The base package is R4.00 more expensive than the DStv Family which is priced at R295.
For non-sports fans this is great but for sports junkies, it’s a double-edged sword. (Again using SA prices), if you want the sports package with all the channels. You’ll need to pay R299 plus R499 which is R789. This is cheaper than getting Premium which is pegged at R829.
However, if you just want the football channels then you will be paying R648 (R299 for the base + R349) which is more expensive than DStv Compact Plus in SA which goes for R539. The perk is only for those who like F1 and ESPN programming but for subscribers who just watch football you are paying for channels you might not care for.
The prices will of course differ if/when DStv decides to rollout Flex into other countries but the proportions represented in the SA prices are unlikely to change.
DStv needs to add more specific add-ons
Earlier on I praised DStv for splitting the sports packages into football lovers and those who prefer other sports. But maybe they might need to consider making a package that’s just for football on top of the ones they already have. The same should apply to lifestyle and other entertainment channels. I am pretty sure that if DStv created a continent-wide survey they could get an idea of what channels/add-on people want.
It might also help them strike a balance between the unbundling making sense business wise as well as enhancing the value of its service to across the tax brackets.