If you’ve been holding off on getting a decoder and satellite dish, or recently turfed yours in favour of a streaming service, then you’d better keep your eyes on DStv. They’re not done with you yet. In an interview with TechCentral earlier this week, DStv CEO Calvo Mawela revealed that the MultiChoice-owned company is working on bringing a streaming-only version of DStv to market.
The timeline is… late to the party, with a 2018 launch being very unlikely and a 2019 release being the prime candidate — though Mawela wasn’t able to lock down a potential date when we might see such a service turn up. Of course, MultiChoice has its own streaming service in the form of ShowMax, but without a roster of original content like Netflix has to offer, and bereft of the sports content that keeps people tied to DStv, it’s not going to offset the declines in subscriber numbers to the satellite service.
“We are in the early stages of the development of this and it’s in line with what DStv Now offers. We want to improve it to get it to a stage where we can go fully to market on this,” Mawela said. DStv Now, if you’ve been paying attention, is currently only available to those who have a traditional DStv subscription. Opening that up to people who don’t want to pay for a mess of channels and a mostly-pointless dish installation would be a step in the right direction for MultiChoice.
If you’ve been paying attention then you might have seen Stuff publisher Toby Shapshak’s column last week pointing out just how pointless it is for DStv to be competing with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix while remaining a dedicated satellite TV provider. A switch-over is inevitable, but the eventual cost and offerings will dictate whether DStv is able to claw back some of the viewers they have lost to international streaming services to date.
If DStv is able to come close to matching (or bettering) Netflix and Amazon pricing and, perhaps most importantly, able to secure rights to stream local and international sporting events, then they’re in with a shot at reclaiming some of the ground they’ve lost (and will lose) to people switching from DStv to Neflix by the time their bespoke streaming service launches.
Mawela said that costing is being considered at this point, specifically “what pricing levels will be acceptable”. Consideration also needs to be given to the impact a decoder-less DStv streaming service will have on their existing business model. It’s possible that sports channels will, as is seen with some cable offerings in the States, be able to prop up DStv’s direct-to-home business for a time while the streaming service is being established. We may also see pay-per-view for sporting events, which could prove lucrative if the model is structured correctly. As has been the trend overseas, though, that state of affairs won’t last forever and they will likely eventually lose subscribers in spite of sports exclusives.
We’re not expecting to be able to stream sports in South Africa for the next few years, at the very soonest. But we’re excited to see what sort of local competition DStv is able to put on the table for the big international players. They’re facing an uphill battle by starting far behind the competition with a smaller pool of funds and, perhaps most importantly, no internally made (and very high quality) exclusive shows to draw eyeballs away from competitors. Let’s see how they do.