DStv hikes prices, spares streaming services

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 14 Feb 2023

Local video-entertainment giant MultiChoice is enticing customers to its streaming services after hiking the prices of DStv packages.

The company today announced DStv has adjusted the prices of its packages for 2023, with the updated fee schedule to take effect from 1 April.

It says the average 4.3% adjustment across all of DStv’s offerings is lower than the projected consumer price index (CPI) for 2023.

Premium subscribers will pay 4.77% or R40 more per month, says MultiChoice, adding there are below-inflation increase adjustments for Compact Plus (+5.46% or R30), Compact (+4.66% or R20), Family (+3.24% or R10) and DStv Access (+7.5% or R9).

Pricing for EasyView and BoxOffice will remain unchanged for 2023. ADD Movies has decreased by 20%, giving customers a saving of R20, says the company.

It notes subscription fees for streaming-only services will notincrease.

Power crisis considerations

The fee increases come as most South Africans are financially-constrained amid a gloomy economic outlook. Load-shedding has exacerbated the situation, particularly for DStv customers who cannot fully use the company’s services as a result of the incessant power outages.

The company says it is forging ahead with plans to open password sharing among streaming clients for as long as they are in the same location.

In a media statement, MultiChoice says the challenges and financial strain South African consumers have had to face were considered and “once again DStv absorbed as much of the increase of the cost of doing business as possible in order to implement minimal adjustments”.

“The pressure that consumers are facing due to remnants of the pandemic, as well as the continued rolling blackouts nationwide, has not been lost on us. These adjustments will help us to ensure South Africans continue to enjoy their favourite shows at the most affordable price,” says a DStv spokesperson.

DStv Premium subscribers will get Showmax as a value-added service at no additional charge, and DStv Compact, Compact Plus, Family and Access subscribers get Showmax at a 50% discount.

In an interview with ITWeb yesterday, Simon Camerer, chief operating officer of MultiChoice Group, said: “I think we all fully understand the context around the economic challenges that we are facing. At the same time, we are not unsympathetic towards it.

“We understand that post-COVID, there has been a recessionary cycle globally. We have also seen that impacting us on things like fuel prices, especially as a result of the fighting in Ukraine.

“We are not immune to all that and our customers are also facing these challenges. But at the same time, we also want to run a business,” noted Camerer.

“So, what we have done is to try and keep the prices below inflation. CPI at the moment is currently running at 7.1% and, on average, we are looking at our price increases at about 4.3%.

“We want to make sure we try and provide as much value to our customers as much as we can and absorb some of the price increases we get through our suppliers. I think we have done reasonably well this year, as we have in previous years tried to make price increases below CPI, which is what we are doing again this year.”

Streaming ahead

In its latest financial results, MultiChoice said connected video users on the DStv app and Showmax continued to grow as broadband penetration improves and online consumption increases.

The year-on-year growth rate for paying Showmax subscribers was 50%, while the overall online user base increased by 13%.

It says Showmax further localised its business by adding more local payment channels and partners, which enabled local billing in various markets.

Showmax Pro – the firm’s standalone over-the-top sports product – showed strong growth, supported by the broadcast of sports such as English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.

Simon Camerer, chief operating officer of MultiChoice Group.
Simon Camerer, chief operating officer of MultiChoice Group.

Says Camerer: “The prices of streaming services were set and reduced in September. So, we think we have another year to go without increasing prices on these platforms, and I think that’s another way for customers to continue consuming our content.

“We also believe this is a great way in which customers can utilise our services during load-shedding. We encourage our customers to always have their tablets, laptops and phones charged so they will be able to see content during load-shedding.

“In a way, not increasing these prices has helped during the load-shedding debacle that we are all facing.”

MultiChoice last month announced the launch of DStv Switch’d On, an intervention to lessen the frustration of DStv viewers due to the impact of load-shedding which reduces their opportunity to consistently watch prime-time television.

At the time, it said this gives viewers up to five times to watch their favourite prime-time shows when the lights come back on.

DStv Switch’d On channels 109 and 110 went live on 24 January.

Controlling access

Camerer revealed the pay-TV operator has made progress in rethinking its password sharing strategy, although he did not indicate when the functionality will be brought back.

From 22 March, MultiChoice put an end to the practice of password sharing, saying some of its customers were grossly abusing the service.

As expected, there was a huge outcry when the plug was pulled on password sharing, MultiChoice SA CEO Nyiko Shiburi told ITWeb last year.

Addressing the issue, Camerer notes: “Globally, the issue of password sharing is also being explored by the likes of Netflix.

“With regards to being able to bring new products and services in the streaming world, we are on track to bring what we call proximity control. In terms of our technical ability to limit streaming outside of a particular household or area, we are on track to enable that.

“We will be able to enable customers to consume via streaming outside of password control. When we are ready to share that information, we will share with you in terms of what exactly it looks like.”