Cape Town – MultiChoice announced that it will be lowering monthly DStv subscription fees from 1 November in several African countries where the DStv prices were out of line with the average and will add a temporary Harry Potter pop-up channel from M-Net.
DStv will also add several TV channels to lower-tiered bouquets in several African countries and make more soccer viewing available on SuperSport channels given to its lower-tiered offerings, to boost the content offering for cheaper DStv packages and to add content value.
Several countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Botswana – but notably excluding South Africa and Nigeria, it’s two biggest markets – will see a significant reduction in monthly DStv subscription fees from 1 November.
The DStv price reduction comes as tough economic conditions facing consumers and greater competition in the pay-TV market from rivals like StarTimes, EcoNet, Zuku and others, have seen the pan-African pay-TV operator decide to lower prices to try and stem the tide of MultiChoice Africa customers cancelling subscriptions.
In Nigeria DStv prices are not lowered but some new local channels like ROK are being added and several channels previously only accessible to DStv Premium subscribers are being made available to lower packages to add bigger content value to cheaper subscription options.
New channels added
Elsewhere in Africa new TV channels like Eva+, a sister channel to the telenovela channel Eva, will be added to DStv with several channels that will be upgraded to high definition (HD) quality similar to South Africa.
While DStv Premium subscribers across the continent and including South Africa can watch the new pop-up M-Net channel M-Net Movies BlockParty on DStv channel 109, MultiChoice in a statement says DStv subscribers can also "look forward to more exciting pop-up channels in the coming months like the M-Net Movies Harry Potter pop-up channel which will run from 4 to 14 November".
The Harry Potter pop-up channel will show all of the Harry Potter movies before the debut in theatres of the first movie of the new spin-off film series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that is scheduled for a worldwide release on 18 November.
Significant price drop
The DStv price reduction starting 1 November, comes in a year in which MultiChoice Africa decided not to increase subscription fees in several countries outside of South Africa, and following a first-ever double price increase in 2015 to try and keep up with local African currencies' ongoing depreciation against the American dollar in which most premium TV content are acquired.
The stiff DStv price hikes put subscribers under pressure and led to the loss of 288 000 subscribers in one year as people could no longer afford the service or no longer saw it as valuable enough, at the same time as competing services like the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service like Naspers' ShowMax and America's Netflix launched their services across Africa.
About the move to adjust prices in several African countries, MultiChoice Africa says that "when reviewing our packages and prices in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business".
"The price of DStv in South Africa as well as some of the other markets including Nigeria compare favourably with the pricing in the countries where subscription prices are currently being reviewed downwards".
In East African countries like Kenya, DStv subscribers will pay between 5% to 13% less from 1 November for the various packages.
In Uganda, a MultiChoice spokesperson said it "realized that it increasing subscriptions all the time is not sustainable. In the long run, people will not afford our services if we continued this way".
In Zimbabwe DStv subscriptions are dropping between 11% and 21% from November with subscribers to cheaper packages in this country, as elsewhere, getting more soccer content with the addition of more UEFA Champions League matches as well as coverage of the best European football leagues and the Europa league on SuperSport.
"The significant price drop, coupled with the major boost in entertainment value across all DStv bouquets, demonstrates our commitment to ensuring DStv customers receive the best possible access to great entertainment and outstanding value," says MultiChoice Africa in a statement that was slightly adjusted for each African country where DStv price reductions are being introduced.
"These changes are not only a defining moment in our MultiChoice story, but also a defining moment in the African entertainment landscape and we are proud to be pushing as hard as we can to delight every television entertainment fan in Africa".
No price reduction in South Africa
MultiChoice in South Africa says South African DStv subscribers won't see a price reduction and that the price of DStv Premium in South Africa compares favourably with the pricing in other African countries.
"We review the DStv prices once a year when we do our business planning – our prices for next year will be announced before 1 April 2017".
MultiChoice South Africa says "when reviewing our packages and pricing in each country, we take into account local dynamics such as inflation, content costs, foreign exchange rates, local taxes and overheads required for each business".
"We've done a lot of research into what pay-TV costs in other parts of the world, and we believe that DStv offers good value for money in the countries in which it operates."
"In South Africa we've implemented a number of cost-saving options for our customers – those who pay annually receive one month free, and our Price Lock packages enable customers to freeze their package price for two years".
MultiChoice currently has close to 10 million subscribers in 49 sub-Saharan African countries.