DStv price over R3000 more than ten years ago, load-shedding woes lead to subscriber exodus

Over the past decade, DStv subscribers in South Africa have faced substantial price hikes, with Premium packages surging from R625 to R879 per month. MultiChoice, grappling with financial challenges, anticipates further inflation-linked increases in 2024. As subscribers express frustration and alternative streaming options gain traction, DStv’s active subscriber base declined by nearly half a million in the last year. Load-shedding, a chronic issue, is attributed to both revenue loss and subscriber decline. MultiChoice explores novel solutions, including a solar energy proof-of-concept, to mitigate the impact of ongoing power challenges.

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South Africans paying over R3,000 a year more for DStv than ten years ago

By Myles Illidge

MultiChoice hikes the price of its DStv packages almost every year, and South Africans are now paying over R250 more per month for DStv Premium than in 2013.

After ten years of inflation-linked increases, this works out to just over R3,000 more per year for the top-tier package.

MyBroadband tracked DStv’s price increases for its high-tier packages over the past decade to see how they impacted subscription fees.

In 2013, DStv Premium was R625 per month, and subscribers now pay R879. Similarly, DStv Compact Plus prices have increased from R380 to R579 a month between 2013 and 2023.

Compact subscribers now pay R174 more per month than in 2013. DStv price increases from 2013 to 2023 across its three higher-end packages are tracked in the chart below.

MultiChoice is preparing for potential price increases in 2024 as it faces mounting financial challenges.

MultiChoice CFO Tim Jacobs said the company is looking at price hikes that align with inflation for its South African and African markets.

“We are actually to the point now, with load-shedding and our revenue number coming under so much pressure, that we have to be a little bit more disciplined about recovering some of our costs,” he said.

“The chances are that we’re going to look at inflationary price increases, both in the South African market and the rest of Africa.”

However, annual price increases create immense frustration among DStv subscribers, with many ditching the pay-TV broadcaster for alternatives like streaming.

DStv Premium, Compact Plus, and Compact price increases: 2013 to 2023
YearDStv PremiumDStv Compact PlusDStv Compact
2023R879R579R449
2022R839R549R429
2021R829R539R409
2020R819R529R399
2019R809R519R399
2018R809R509R385
2017R789R489R365
2016R759R459R345
2015R699R425R319
2014R665R399R295
2013R625R380R275

DStv blames load-shedding on subscriber losses

MultiChoice’s interim results for the first half of the 2023 financial year revealed that it lost nearly half a million DStv subscribers in South Africa in the past year.

The pay-TV broadcaster’s 90-day active subscribers figure stood at 8.629 million as of 30 September 2023 — 486,000 less than the 9.115 million subscribers it reported at the same point in 2022.

MultiChoice partially blamed its decision to end its 2022 pricing promotions for its subscriber losses. The promotions were aimed at providing financial relief to customers amid load-shedding.

This led to 311,000 non-revenue generating customers on its temporary “Surprise and Delight” offers being removed from DStv’s 90-day active subscriber base. These subscribers accounted for 3% of the total 5% decline.

However, it also blamed increased load-shedding for its subscriber decline over the period.

“The South African business had to contend with the effects of ongoing high levels of load-shedding as 43% of the days in the reporting period were impacted by stage 4–6 load-shedding,” MultiChoice stated in its interim results report.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO

The company added that it could see a clear correlation between the stage of load-shedding Eskom implements and DStv subscriber growth.

To combat this, the pay-TV broadcaster is undertaking a proof-of-concept to package and sell solar and battery energy storage products.

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela told MyBroadband that the company has partnered with alternative energy importers and installers to test the concept.

“We hope that will take off,” he said. “We should be able to get a sizeable number of our customers taking this, and then that helps us.”

Mawela said the company is also actively encouraging customers to use its streaming services, which allows them to download content to view offline.

“That way, they can charge their products at work, download stuff and be able to watch at home,” he said.

“But we need to solve load-shedding as a country. It’s just not sustainable for us, and especially a country as big as South Africa, going through this pain for such a long time.

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This article was first published by MyBroadband and is republished with permission

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