Tag: DStv

DStv under siege

By Rudolph Muller for MyBroadband

DStv is facing threats from international streaming services, local competitors like Openview and PremiumFree, and a Competition Commission investigation.

MultiChoice’s response to these threats will shape what DStv’s products look like in future and how subscribers will consume content on the platform.

Launched in 1995, Digital Satellite Television (DStv) has been the dominant pay-TV service in South Africa for three decades.

It faced some competition from TopTV — now called StarSat — which was launched in 2010, but it hardly made a dent in MultiChoice’s monopoly.

Now there are new competitors which MultiChoice is rightly worried about. These are not licensed pay-TV broadcasters, but rather international streaming services.

The arrival of fast and affordable broadband paved the way for South Africans to cut the cord and sign up to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming video platforms.

At a fraction of the price of DStv Premium and with a bucketload of on-demand content at up to 4K, these services offer excellent value for money.

Many people are more interested in movies and TV series than sport, and this is where streaming services shine.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube Premium and other services have enjoyed strong adoption in South Africa.

Other heavyweights like Disney+, Hulu, and HBO Max are also expected to launch in the country in future.

Sports lovers can also subscribe to a growing number of sports streaming services, like F1TV Pro, UFC Fight Pass, Tennis TV, and WWE Network.

Local streaming services, like TelkomONE and Vodacom Video Play, provide further competition to MultiChoice’s ShowMax and DStv Now offerings.

Unveiled in November 2020, TelkomONE offers a range of free content including SABC and news channels, paid-for movies, and TV shows that primarily consist of local reality programmes.

Telkom has not released subscriber numbers yet, but said it was pleased with consistent growth in registrations and content engagement across the platform.

Vodacom Video Play is another big local player. Launched in 2015, it is targeting mobile users with movies, series, kids shows and music videos. It grew to over a million subscribers by 2019.

So significant is the threat from over-the-top (OTT) providers like Netflix, YouTube, and Disney+, that MultiChoice described it as an existential competitive threat to DStv.

MultiChoice told the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) that OTT operators are their biggest competitors and a real threat.

“Currently competition is fierce and will continue to grow rapidly and in a disruptive way,” MultiChoice said.

“We consider providers like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, HBO Now & Peacock to be an existential competitive threat.”

DStv’s answer to streaming services encroaching on its territory is to offer Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube through its DStv Explora decoders.

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said it makes sense for DStv to become a one-stop-shop where you pay one bill and get access to all streaming content, including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and YouTube.

There is however a snag – a Competition Commission investigation.

Competition Commission spokesperson, Siyabulela Makunga said they are investigating MultiChoice’s deal with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The investigation is focussed on the integration of popular international streaming services into its DStv Explora decoder, which may lessen competition.

If the outcome of this investigation is not favourable for MultiChoice, it can stop its Netflix and Amazon integration plans in its tracks.

It is not only local and international streaming services which are looking to take market share from DStv.

South Africa’s free-to-air satellite TV service platform, Openview is aggressively targeting the less affluent end of the market.

Openview has increased its investment in content from R308.7 million to R366.9 million per year to strengthen its offering.

The platform is currently offering over 18 TV and radio channels and has signed an agreement in March to add a new SABC Sport channel to the platform.

The strategy is working. Openview set-top box activations continue to grow at an average of 35,000 per month.

eMedia Holdings’ latest financial results revealed that Openserve now has 2,361,443 users, up from 1,992,844 a year ago.

It is not only Openview which is going after the South African satellite TV market.

AfricaXP expanded its free-to-air satellite TV service, PremiumFree, to millions of satellite dishes in South Africa on 1 May 2021.

PremiumFree is already offering free-to-air satellite TV services in many African countries through two Eutelsat satellites.

AfricaXP is now further extending PremiumFree’s reach through a partnership with Intelsat via its IS-20 satellite — the same satellite DStv uses which covers most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

AfricaXP CEO Craig Kelly said the capacity on Intelsat’s IS-20 satellite gives them additional coverage and direct access to over 40 million homes across this region with dishes aligned to it.

Many South African households have IS-20 aligned dishes connected to “closed” decoders that lock out other channels.

These viewers could now buy any low-cost free to air decoder and connect it to their LNB cable coming from the dish to receive the PremiumFree channels.

The current PremiumFree bouquet offers 20 English channels with a strong focus on African content.

Openview and PremiumFree compete directly competing against DStv EasyView which is priced at R29 per month.

It is not clear how MultiChoice will react to the competitive and regulatory threats, but it is likely to include improved streaming services.

The company is already offering its own streaming service, ShowMax, which was launched in August 2015.

Last year MultiChoice unveiled its new Showmax Pro offering which includes a selection of live sports.

It followed up its enhanced ShowMax Pro service with the launch of a new standalone DStv streaming service in December.

The standalone DStv streaming service allows existing and new subscribers to access content on mobile phones, tablets, gaming consoles, or smart TVs without the need for a dish or decoder.

MultiChoice is also busy developing a bundle which will combine DStv subscriptions with uncapped Internet service packages.

These interventions will help to make MultiChoice competitive, but whether it will be enough to maintain its dominance remains to be seen.

By Thinus Ferreira for News24

South Africa’s Competition Commission has started an investigation into MultiChoice that has announced plans to add global streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video alongside its own Showmax service.

In its latest financial year results announced in mid-June, MultiChoice revealed that it plans to add Netflix and Amazon Prime Video as subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services to a new streaming app carousel that it wants to launch for DStv subscribers.

This new streaming app vertical will house separate blocks or apps, incorporating DStv Now, Showmax, Joox, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video – and in future even more global streaming services like possibly Disney+, HBO Max, Spotify and others – as MultiChoice evolves to become what in the pay-TV industry is termed a “super-aggregator” of video content.

How it will work, and already works elsewhere in the world, is that consumers can still subscribe separately and directly with these streaming services, but can also do so through their traditional pay-TV service that gives access to their rivals in win-win “frenemy” content distribution agreements.

MultiChoice wants to provide DStv subscribers who sign up for one or more of these SVOD services – for however long – the convenience of one monthly bill paid in rand and the streaming service amount(s) just showing up as an additional invoice line-item.

How MultiChoice benefits is that by offering DStv subscribers seamless access to streaming service competitors but through its interface and platform, MultiChoice gets to keep a DStv subscriber within its own eco-system. MultiChoice also gets paid a commission by a SVOD service for every subscriber who signs up to each of these services.

How the pay-TV subscriber benefits is that the tacked-on streaming service subscription, paid in local currency, is usually a bit cheaper than going direct as part of a promotion to entice them to try and use it, and because the pay-TV operator because of scale gets a “wholesale” price.

The streaming service benefits by getting additional revenue and new subscribers through leveraging the scale of the pay-TV operator and piggybacking on the more trusted local brand. It lowers what is called “product friction” – potential customers to scared to try something new or unwilling to complete a new registration and sign-up and cumbersome login process.

Traditional pay-TV operators in the United States like Comcast, in the United Kingdom like Sky, Canal+ in France and several others worldwide have already taken the leap to integrate and offer streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and others that are actually competitors, into their existing services and making them available through their platforms and user interfaces.

MultiChoice plans to take the wrapping off its latest DStv Explora decoder next Wednesday in a media launch that it will broadcast on one of its own DStv channels, with the decoder that will likely be 4K-resolution capable.

It will likely also come with a DStv remote control that will have a dedicated Netflix or video streaming button, similar to elsewhere in the world, taking DStv subscribers directly to the streaming app carousel where DStv Now, Showmax, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and future streaming services will all appear stacked next to each other.

It’s unclear how the new Competition Commission investigation might scupper or alter MultiChoice’s showcase plans for next week.

MultiChoice was asked for comment regarding the Competition Commission investigation into MultiChoice’s SVOD expansion plans, and how the investigation will impact the Randburg-based pay-TV operator’s plans for the consumer roll-out of these rival services on its platform.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s group executive for corporate affairs, told Channel24 on Wednesday in response to the media enquiry that MultiChoice is unable to comment at this stage.

Siyabulela Makunga, Competition Commission spokesperson, told Channel24 about its investigation of MultiChoice wanting to add Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that “we’re not commenting on the issue because it is still at a very sensitive stage”.

He couldn’t say when the investigation started, or when it might be finished. “It’s still very early,” he said.

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Source: The South African

The MultiChoice Group recently signed agreements to offer Netflix and Amazon streaming services through its next-generation Explora personal video recorder (PVR) decoder.

According to TechCentral, MultiChoice published a presentation on its website detailing its 2020 financial results and revealed that it has launched field trials of its standalone DStv Streaming product — which is expected to be launched soon — and signed the Explora deals with Netflix and Amazon.

While MultiChoice already runs its own subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) streaming service Showmax, its latest 2019/2020 financial results revealed that subscribers to the service are at 19.5 million – which is a 5% increase from the previous year. South Africa still represents MultiChoice’s biggest and most powerful market, with 8.4 million pay-TV households, while the rest of Africa combined represents 11.1 million households. MultiChoice added that over the last financial year it has produced 3 850 additional hours of local content with its local content library that now exceeds 56 800 hours. This means local content now accounts for 40% of its total content spend.

“We have long been a content aggregator, and this is proof of our aggregator model at work – providing simplicity, choice and convenience for our customers,” says Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO.

“As our industry evolves, we believe that we are well-positioned to benefit from both worlds – a large, growing pay-TV market in Africa, as well as an emerging over-the-top (OTT) opportunity, where our own OTT services and aggregation capabilities can drive success.”

According to My Broadband, MultiChoice’s annual results for the year also showed a continued decline in Premium subscribers.

MultiChoice combined Premium and Compact Plus into a single category for the purposes of showing year-over-year subscriber decline of 4% or 100 000 subscribers in the region. Growth was affected by one-off sports events in the prior year and some country-specific issues.

100k people petition DStv to cut prices

By Lungelo Matangira for EWN

Over 100 000 people have signed an online petition calling for pay-TV provider DStv to cut its prices for South Africa, as it does for other African countries, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition, launched by Sifiso Gwala a week ago, had 109 016 signatures by midday on Wednesday afternoon.

“DStv drops prices for the rest of Africa except South Africa and now this. We’re being taken for granted here #DstvMustFall,” Gwala said in the petition.

In 2019, DStv cut prices in a number of African countries such as Kenya and Nigeria. This, however, has never happened in South Africa.

Now, amid job losses, salary cuts and struggling businesses during the lockdown, South Africans want the same to happen for local subscribers.

“Prices are too high, can’t afford it” and “we must choose the channels we want”, said some supporters.

DStv is yet to respond to the petition.

DStv offers up free channels

By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband

DStv Now has made a selection of channels available to all South Africans for free.

DStv Now is an online streaming service which is bundled with DStv’s satellite broadcasting service, and allows subscribers to watch TV and shows from mobile devices, smart TVs, laptops, and more.

The new free channel package is available to all South Africans, however, and not only DStv subscribers.

The company said that in response to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa, a number of DStv Now channels are no longer locked behind a subscription and are available to anyone with an Internet connection.

DStv channels which are now available to stream for free are:

100 – DStv
180 – People’s Weather
238 – SuperSport Play
313 – PBS Kids
320 – Channel O
343 – TBN
400 – BBC World News
401 – CNN
402 – Sky News
403 – eNCA
404 – SABC News
405 – Newzroom Afrika
414 – Euronews Now

Staying informed about the latest news on the virus is the first step in stopping its spread, said the company. For this reason, it has made several 24-hour news channels available.

In addition to these channels, episodes of popular series are also available via the Catch Up portal on the free service, including Igazi, The River, Isibaya, Binnelanders, Suidooster, and Die Ware Naarheid.

DStv announces annual price increase

DStv has announced pricing increases on some of its packages for 2020, while others will remain at the previous year’s prices.

The updated fees, will take effect from 1 April, are as follows:

  • DStv Premium – a R10.00 (1.24%) price increase
  • Compact Plus – a R10.00 (1.93%) increase
  • There will be no increase for Compact subscribers

Premium subscribers declined to 20% from 22% in the previous financial year, due to tough economic times and stiff competition from international video streaming services.

Meanwhile, a recent poll run by BusinessTech found that around 13% of South Africans were willing to cut access to services like DStv to cut costs each month.

DStv incorrectly bills customers

Source: MyBroadband

Multiple DStv subscribers have reported issues with their monthly bills, contacting MyBroadband and taking to social media to voice their frustration.

A DStv subscriber who contacted MyBroadband stated that his debit order for his monthly subscription is meant to be R939.

Last month, however, he was billed R2,607. He said he contacted MultiChoice about the incorrect deduction, who promised to address the issue and refund him.

However, his latest bill was R1,748 for the month – which was again too high.

The reader then mailed MyBroadband to share his story, and stated that he has not received a resolution from MultiChoice.

Online complaints

Many users have also complained online about the DStv billing issues, and expressed anger at the matter not being resolved.

Hellopeter, Twitter, and Facebook host scores of complaints – examples of which are below.

Although my package type hasn’t changed for 20 years, suddenly my amount due is four times the normal debit order amount.

I called the call centre and an agent advised it would be resolved, and guess what it has not. Now when I speak with a supervisor suddenly I have multiple accounts and it will be escalated again.

Another complaint stated:

I’ve been with them since December 2018, and have had almost monthly problems with my bill. But December 2019 was the worst. On 24/10/2019, my account balance was R389 and then on 25/11/2019 it had jumped to R1,800.

I’m not getting any proper explanation as to how they got to that amount in that space of time.

MultiChoice fixing issue

MultiChoice told MyBroadband it recently consolidated all services on a customer’s account for easier billing.

“Customers now also have the flexibility of being able to add services or upgrade their package during the month, and only pay for those changes on their next payment date,” it said.

“We are continuously working on sorting out any customer issues, including billing. We apologise to all customers inconvenienced and vow to speedily resolve any problems they are experiencing.”

“It must be noted that most of the billing problems have been resolved successfully,” said MultiChoice.

Five DStv scams to avoid this Christmas

By Tom Head for The South African

If you’re a subscriber to the network, take note. At least five major DStv scams have been identified this year: here’s how to play it safe.

‘Tis the season to be cautious, folks. There are a myriad of DStv scams waiting to trip-up some unsuspecting victims this Christmas. The network have confirmed that a number of schemes have already been detected, and bosses have raced to warn South Africans about the dangers they face.

It isn’t just the technophobes and boomers that are getting duped by the sophisticated rouses, either. These DStv scams have caught-out people across the board. But what do we need to look out for?

The gift card phishing scam
Customers receive an email informing them that they’ve won a cash gift card or huge sums of prize money from a MultiChoice competition. However, targets are then asked to provide personal details in order to claim the prize. It’ll be for a competition you definitely didn’t enter, so please, don’t hand any of your information out.

The “final notice” SMS scam
Some DStv customers have received an SMS claiming to be from DStv demanding payment for a DStv Explora account. It threatens action if payment is not made today and includes banking details. However, the network do not send such crudely-worded communications. You can contact them to find out the status of your account if you feel unsure.

Recruiting for social media jobs
There are dangerous scams disguised as recruitment ads for MultiChoice. One of the most popular ones offers applicants the chance to be driven to an interview. MultiChoice does not offer such a service, under any circumstances. Use the Afrizan website to verify any offers.

The DStv Premiem upgrade scam
Opportunists are contacting customers – via email or telephone- and offering them DStv Premium for a fixed once-off fee per yea, where the customer pays the fee directly to the scammer. Customers are asked to disregard such offers, and they are asked to refrain from letting a third-party upgrade an account for them.

Say no to installation offers
Don’t let your desire for a festive bargain cloud your common sense. If someone offers you a discounted DStv subscription at a once off payment, treat this with suspicion and check it with the network. Anyone offering “free package upgrades” or “free DStv for life” in a cut-price deal will be trying to rip you off.

How to avoid these DStv scams
The network have issued the following statement, advising consumers on how they can stay safe this year:

“There are usually tell-tale signs that can help you spot if something is a scam. Like receiving an email or SMS from us claiming that you’ve won a huge prize for a DStv competition you never entered, and for which you must either pay a fee or verify yourself by sending personal details – sounds too good to be true? It probably is.”

“MultiChoice will never request your personal details via email or SMS – please do not hand over your personal information to anyone claiming to be from DStv. Always check the email address and emails containing spelling and grammatical errors. MultiChoice only use one domain for emails (multichoice.co.za).”

Public forces SABC, Dstv to reach rugby deal

Source: IOL

A sponsorship deal with Heineken will allow the SABC to broadcast the Rugby World Cup final match between SA and England live across 11 SABC radio stations as well as on television.

Earlier this week, the broadcaster announced that, following an agreement with pay-channel Supersport, who owns the broadcasting rights to the 4-yearly rugby showcase, Saturday’s highly-anticipated clash would be broadcast on SABC 2.

This follows a public outcry that many South Africans would not be able to watch their team in the final, due to not having access to Dstv and other streaming platforms.

Additionally, the SABC will also broadcast the third-place play-off match between semi-final losers New Zealand’s All Blacks and Wales that will be played on Friday November 1.

The SABC announced Heineken as the official sponsor of the broadcast, and a partner in bringing the historic final match to the broader South African public.

The radio stations which will broadcast the match are: RSG; Radio 2000; Ukhozi FM; Umhlobo Wenene FM; Thobela FM; Motsweding FM; Lesedi FM; Ikwekwezi FM; Ligwalagwala FM; Phalaphala FM and Munghana Lonene FM, with live updates on SAFM.

Fans can watch a live build-up to the third place playoff and Rugby World Cup final on SABC 2 from 10am on Friday and Saturday respectively with the matches kicking off at 11:00.

DStv faces backlash over channel cuts

Source: Telecom Paper

Thousands of MultiChoice’s DStv subscribers have signed a petition against DStv’s plan to cut three popular channels from its offering, MyBroadband reported. DStv recently announced that it will discontinue History, Crime + Investigation, and Lifetime at the end of October. They have been available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers for years but the contract term for the channels, provided by A+E Networks, ends on 01 November.

MultiChoice senior manager for corporate communications Benedict Maaga told MyBroadband that the decision is part of an overhaul of the DStv line-up. He said the fact that the contract for these three channels came to an end gave MultiChoice an opportunity to evaluate the value it offers subscribers.

Angry DStv subscribers have launched a petition on Change.org in support of A+E Networks, trying to convince MultiChoice to reconsider its decision. The petition states that A+E Networks has opened an African office, which is growing and creating local employment.

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