DStv under whip of streaming services and state of economy

Netflix said it has reinvented personal viewing and the definition of what makes a “hit” series or film

DStv subscriber numbers, as published in the latest Naspers financial results at the end March 2018, grew by 1.5-million households.
DStv subscriber numbers, as published in the latest Naspers financial results at the end March 2018, grew by 1.5-million households.
Image: Pixabay.com

MultiChoice’s pay television service, DStv, has been placed under increased pressure due to the likes of more affordable online streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

DStv subscriber numbers, as published in the latest Naspers financial results at the end March 2018, grew by 1.5-million households.

The most up-to-date figures will be released with the Naspers half-year results in November.

While the total subscriber base across Africa is now at 13.5-million households, MutliChoice said it was aware that its customers were experiencing general economic pressure and that its Premium subscriber base had to some extent declined.

“For the financial year ending March 2017, it declined by 100,000 across Africa and by 40,000 for the financial year ending March 2018.”

This while American media services provider Netflix said since launching in January 2016, it was “very happy with the interest of our members”.

“Our plan for 2019 is bringing the world’s best stories to our [SA] fans and continuing our steady growth,” Netflix said.

While the online platform said it would not release subscriber numbers locally or globally, Netflix said it has reinvented personal viewing and the definition of what makes a “hit” series or film that breaks into popular culture.

“By combining fresh content with technology, we are delivering the most unique and personalised entertainment experience available to consumers globally.”

PwC’s Entertainment and Media Outlook for 2018-2022 report, released in September, revealed that the total data consumption in SA is forecast to reach almost eight-billion GB in 2022, fuelled by the rapid increases in data traffic through smartphones and tablets.

“Music streaming giants like Apple and Google, as well as streaming video on demand industry leaders like Netflix and Amazon, as well as local provider ShowMax, will continue to make an impression on the SA market, driving data consumption through smartphone usage in particular,” the report said.

But the issue for many South Africans remains flexible subscriptions, affordability and quality local content.

Clynn O’Reilly, 29, of Uitenhage, said while Netflix’s cost per year was more affordable than that of DStv, he would still choose the satellite pay television service.

“When you consider the pros and cons, my preferential choice would be DStv for the following reasons: with Netflix, the user deals with two service providers – Netflix and an internet service provider.

“Netflix also offers no live sport for sports lovers like me and limited local content.

“Netflix is the cheaper option, but I choose DStv for its ease of use, no interruptions due to bad internet connection and minimal viewing interruptions due to bad weather – reliability and piece of mind.”

Seth Matroos, 25, of Aspen Heights in Port Elizabeth, said at the moment he, too, prefers DStv’s offer.

“I have never used Netflix, so I am more familiar with DStv. I am also not a big fan of series but, if Netflix is cheaper, I would consider changing over,” Matroos said.

Yonela Ben-Mazwi, 25, of Lorraine said: "I’m always on [DStv] catch-up and that’s almost the same as Netflix besides the fact that Netflix doesn’t have your South African series."

MultiChoice said it invested more than R2bn every year to develop local content and an additional R2bn in sports development.

“We want to ensure we continue to deliver great entertainment to South Africans for many years to come,” MultiChoice said.

But Netflix said since launching in the country in January 2016, the content library on the Netflix SA’s service has grown by more than 500%.

Netflix said since launching in the country in January 2016, the content library on the Netflix SA’s service has grown by more than 500%.
Netflix said since launching in the country in January 2016, the content library on the Netflix SA’s service has grown by more than 500%.
Image: Pixabay.com

South Africa remains by far the largest TV market in Africa, with total revenue of R32.2bn in 2017, the PwC report said.

“Following growth at a 4.8% compound annual growth rate over the forecast period, the total television market will be worth R40.8bn by 2022, when end-user spending (pay-TV subscriptions, physical home video, internet video and public licence fees) will account for 77.9% of the total television market, remaining very comparable to the 76.8% share in 2017.

“But, with a cultural shift towards viewing content when and where audiences desire and often on ad-free platforms, there are concerns for advertisers,” the PwC report said.

“Digitisation will provide more opportunity for targeting niche consumer groups, while live content and sport will continue to draw in the largest linear audiences and therefore the largest advertising budgets.

“In the longer term, after the analogue switch-off, some households might look to supplement their digital terrestrial channels with subscription video on demand platforms rather than traditional pay-TV packages.”

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