Pricey internet holds back SA streaming - Fin24 users

ShowMax website. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
ShowMax website. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Fin24 users say that if internet prices drop, they will unplug their subscription TV services and turn to streaming services.

According to Fin24 users, the price and speed of internet access as well as sport are two key factors that prevent them from ditching DStv for streaming TV services such as Netflix.

READ: Streaming TV could save you money

“We already don’t watch TV but have been watching series online. The only problem is sport. If there was a reliable sport streaming solution that would make the difference. Currently, we have to piggyback on my dad’s premium subscription so we can connect to DStv-Now to watch sport. I know people who have the full package just for sport. That’s probably why DStv will not create a sports package anytime soon,” said Fin24 user Thobeka.

Most South Africans who access the internet for streaming utilise ADSL, but new fibre to the home (FTTH) services could upend the industry by offering high speed service.

However, FTTH services are still considered expensive and roll-out has been limited to wealthy areas.

“FTTH that is uncapped and reasonably priced will do it for me. This is not something that is likely to happen anytime soon, as service providers rip off consumers big time as it is, with their way overpriced data offerings - I can picture them salivating already. FTTH is currently installed or being installed only in affluent areas, which makes it inaccessible for 'plebs' like me. Clearly the business is just about making as much money as fast as possible, instead of using innovative ways to reach many consumers,” fumed Fin24 user Saul.

READ: Telkom launches ShowMax free data deal

For Fin24 user Thobeka, who has made the switch to streaming, three factors played a decisive role.

“I have made the switch. When I initially made the decision to switch I considered below factors. These include:

“1. Cost: DStv costs R699 a month for premium package. I could not justify paying that amount a month for watching sport on DStv. Most of the time I am out at a pub/restaurant or a friend’s house watching sport. Probably 40% of all sport watched was not through my account.

2. Live TV versus Catch up: Very little TV was being watched 'live'. Majority of the programs were watched via catch up. Whether I stream, or watch on catch up, equates to the same thing.

3. Available Content: This is where it becomes a little tricky. I am one of those that have signed up to Netflix and Hulu via my apple TV. I have not signed up to the South African streaming, but rather opened a US account ... The content available is far greater than locally and much more up to date ... Unfortunately, I lose the ability to watch sport, but as explained above, I am willing to sacrifice.”

Here’s how Thobeka explained savings from streaming TV:

“Internet costs me R774 (100GB capped) with R189 ADSL line (changing soon to fibre – waiting to connect) that equals R963. NetFlix and Hulu cost me $7.99 each. If the rand holds, it equates to R132 each = R264. Unotelly cost me R85 a month.

“The total cost is R1 312.00 a month. If I had internet and DStv, I would pay R1 662.”

Internet service provider (ISP) MWEB and ShowMax also recently announced a deal where subscribers would get three months’ of free access.

READ: Streaming threatens SA broadcasters - expert

For Fin24 user Una, the deal is good news, but speed and cost remain prohibitive challenges.

“According to ShowMax and Netflix they recommend at minimum of 4Mbps DSL speed (HD streaming at that speed isn't too great either). With MWEB that would cost: R469 - all inclusive (4mb uncapped and 4mb ADSL speed) +/- R190 for Telkom line rental, totalling R659.

“I feel that it's still a little bit too expensive considering that if one were to cut DStv they would be cutting news and sports channels and local shows - these are all things that make DStv unique, South Africans loves these channels.

“ShowMax is on the right track with their three-month free access with MWEB deal. But again ISPs (internet service providers) love to tether their clients by quoting their 'fair usage policies', so before you know it with an uncapped package your internet speed will be cut in half.

“For video streaming services to work well in our country the ISPs and streaming companies need to come together to make it more financially accessible to consumers.

“Until then, I'll regretfully keep my DStv as I want nothing more but to change fully to streaming.”

Some Fin24 users highlighted the cost of sports broadcasts on satellite TV.

“DStv was and is still very expensive. Most of the revenue they create is from the rights they buy to broadcast live sport. The amount of self-advertising and reruns they show made me unsubscribe three years ago. I have a 2Mbps Telkom deal for R600 per month and can watch any show/movie/music video whenever I want. Traditional broadcasting will die out and the monopoly MultiChoice holds will crumble soon,” said Fin24 user Trevor.

Fin24 user Dawie warned that unless the cost of DStv came down significantly, people would abandon the service as soon as high speed internet access was widely available.

“The cost of DStv Premium, if not reduced substantially, will be the driving force to switch to TV streaming. Internet facility already in place for a number of years now, and in addition, I am not interested in the sport channels on offer from DStv.”

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on Fin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views of users published on Fin24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

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