Home News How it went wrong for DStv in South Africa

How it went wrong for DStv in South Africa

by Zahid Jadwat

Direct broadcast satellite service provider DStv has experienced a decline in viewership, with many speculating on how it went wrong for DStv in South Africa. The answer, according to tech journalist Hanno Labuschagne, likely lies in cheaper alternatives entering the market.

“Shows like House of the Dragon from HBO… we saw that show, on its debut on DStv, actually only got about 7701 viewers,” said Labuschagne. He explained that the availability of cheaper alternatives, such as Netflix, Showmax and the like, mean that DStv has struggled to retain its audience.

“It’s a radical decline and it seems to be across some of its [DStv’s] cheaper packages,” he said. However, Labuschagne also pointed out the possibility that DStv customers may be shifting to its digital offering.

“That might be the case – because the BRCSA’s figures don’t include that, so we have to take that into account – but it could also be an indication that some of the people on the lower end packages are now also moving to streaming services,” he said.


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Streaming services

To understand how it went wrong for DStv in South Africa, it would be helpful to take a closer look at the market and trends in the local media space.

Competition has been stiff since the arrival of cheaper streaming services in South Africa. Showmax launched in the country in 2015, followed by the arrival of Netflix in 2016 and Disney+ in early 2022.

“We’ve got these cheap mobile plans. Showmax, Multichoice’s own product, offered [television] on demand. R39 a month is much more affordable than your average package,” said Labuschagne.

He added that lower data costs have made on-demand streaming more easily accessible to South Africans.

“Data is getting cheaper so that’s also a big factor. Data is getting cheaper and people are shifting over [because] it’s very difficult for some people to see you see the value in the DSTV Premium package,” he said.


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DStv and sport

Labuschagne noted that one of the key segments of DStv subscribers remains sports fans. He said it might be time for DStv to adapt to the changing market by creating a sport-only package.

“It’s a lacking package and it seems that DStv is hesitant to make that play. They want to subsidise all of the content by charging higher-end prices, but it might be time for them to adapt and offer something in that area,” he said.
However, Labuschagne said, the extreme cost of sports rights as well as the push by politicians for more local content may prove challenging to DStv in that regard.

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