This is how streaming is going to kill DStv

You have probably heard this before but it’s worth repeating: Streaming is going to bring about the end of satellite providers like DStv. I know what your reaction is going to be: That’s never happening in Africa because here internet is limited to urban areas and even then it’s so expensive most households would find it cheaper to stick with satellite companies like DStv rather than go for streaming.

Again it’s a familiar defence line. On the surface, it seems like a solid line of argument that is supported by facts. Most people in countries like Zimbabwe rely on mobile data and most providers like Econet and NetOne don’t even have uncapped packages which would make it possible for you to enjoy Netflix and other streaming platforms without worrying about data consumption. Most internet connections don’t even support smooth streaming and once you leave Harare you will be lucky if you can even do a speed test.

The pandemic is bringing about some important changes

As I highlighted in an earlier article on the issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some important changes that you need to consider. One big change is that for most people internet costs are now what we call “sunk costs” or unavoidable costs. If you are working from home you already probably need an internet connection anyway. From this point, it’s easier to make the transition to full-blown streaming.

If you are wondering what I am on about let me give you a brief explanation:

  • Before the pandemic most people went to work where they accessed the internet. Getting an internet connection at home was an addition cost they had to pay. Typically an uncapped connection will cost you about US$100 a month.
  • After the pandemic most people need a home connection for school stuff and/or work. You would probably get a capped connection and pay something like US$50 for it. If you already had DStv you would be paying for this too. You can however simply stop paying DStv use that money to pay for an uncapped connection. This is because, thanks to you already having to pay for a capped connection the leap to an uncapped connection and thus streaming is now easier.

Still not convinced? Here is another big reason why streaming will kill DStv

The above Math will probably still leave some people doubting my argument but there is another big reason why streaming is a threat to DStv. It’s an argument you have probably haven’t heard or thought of before.

You see DStv has always thrived on the traditional geographic model of content distribution. Movie and TV show makers would divvy up the world into different regions and licence their content in these regions to different players. Now thanks to the internet they do not have to do that anymore! They can just upload a show onto their streaming platform add a CDN to speed things up and anyone can access it.

This means three things for traditional players like DStv:

  • Big production companies are taking their channels from DStv in order to strengthen the attractiveness of their platforms. We have seen this with Fox and Discovery. Expect this to get worse as content behemoths get in the streaming game. This poses a direct existential threat to DStv. One that is immidiate and can be crippling.
  • As these media houses venture into streaming there are also going to not be syndicating their content anymore. This means that they will be focusing on making originals for their platforms rather than giving away rights to foreign broadcasters. This means less content for DStv and other similar players
  • Less content and less channels means less value for money. Suddenly people are going to be questioning whether paying for DStv Premium is even worth it as they are bombarded with repeats. That will mean less money to acquire new content and thus the vicious spiral of death continues.

NB. Of course, DStv can always stem the tide by investing in original content too. We have already seen them do this but that’s never going to be enough to sate the appetites of avid TV watchers.

DStv might never really die but it will probably be a pale shadow of itself when this decade ends.



  1. CC

    I totally agree with you. I shared the same sentiments with my friends some time back and they laughed at me. Thanks for vindicating me. I stopped subscribing to DSTV 3 years ago and I don’t miss it at all. In fact an uncapped wifi connection is way cheaper. Besides, DSTV recycles content often.

  2. Paul Walker

    I think DSTV will continue to thrive on its 2 winning points in my opinion. The 1st one is local content and the 2nd one is sport. I see people having multiple subcriptions e.g Netflix, Showmax, Apple TV e.t.c. I currently have Netflix, Apple TV and Amazon Prime. I often struggle to find anything to watch then just switch to DSTV to watch news.

  3. Imi vanhu musadaro

    If you just ask around or had a child that was doing Zoom classes, you will realise a lot of people do not have uncapped connections, nor do they have fibre connections. People drop out in the middle of lessons, never to be seen for the rest of the day, teachers included.

    The Internet costing, availability and speed is far from viable enough for streaming to become mainstream.

    In your calculations, you have also left out the cost of whatever streaming platform you opt to use.

    There are also hardware restrictions: your TV must support Internet connectivity + the streaming service you want, or you need a set-top box. A good number of the flat screen TVs out there, just won’t cut it. Some may have the apps, but you get a notice that the app is old, but as well no update is available.

    It is also hard to beat the mentality of the channel system: select a channel and entertainment will be provided. Older folk don’t want to be bothered with choosing stuff.

    The age old strength of DSTV has also been omitted, European football! Unless, the streaming service is providing sports coverage, some won’t even consider the move.

    1. Anonymous

      Showmax Pro has football andand all sports but still. Showmax Pro= US17.99, Netflix= US13.99, Amazon Prime= US5.99, Unlimited Internet=US100. Total comes up to over US130 which is far more expensive than paying for DStv Premium@US70. As long as internet costs remain high in Zimbabwe this won’t happen

  4. Me

    Iwo mastreaming services anotopawo Zimbabwe mabest packages here or vanotogara vativharira panze toita piracy, tototi varikutipa zvatirikuda yet most of the time it’s vpns, fake addresses, smartdnsproxy?? Maybe they are going to knockout DStv, but I don’t think DStv will go down without a fight.

  5. Laywoman

    If data was cheap (or at least affordable) in Zimbabwe, DSTV would lose to streaming for sure. DSTV will reign because it does not rely on data or connectivity avaiability.

    1. Tihove

      In Zimbabwe? Not so soon unless a miracle happens.

      1. NJM

        Maybe you are the miracle.

  6. Tatenda Dzumbira

    In as much as Streaming Services are taking over, I wonder if the cost of data for streaming does not slow down the migration from satellite. I use the Telone internet bundle (500gb = $6600/US$76) which is USD$76 + USD12 for Netflix. USD88 a month for streaming whilst the Dstv Compact package usd$30 is giving m n my kids satisfaction. It will surely be a slow much to streaming full time

  7. Anonymous

    sunk costs??? are unrecoverable costs not unavoidable costs

  8. fuzile

    uncapped data is becoming cheaper in south africa fibre R499 u can get uncapped data 25Mbps to 50mbps this is a stable full hd we have a lot of free straming app available in south Africa like plex,tubi Detroit just use tv box u will realise the is no need to pay or have Dstv


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