Choos­ing your own chan­nels to watch on DStv will put an even big­ger dent in your monthly bud­get.

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Why can’t pen­sion­ers who can­not af­ford a Pre­mium DStv pack­age get rugby and cricket? I’m miss­ing my favourite player Siya Kolisi in ac­tion for The Storm­ers and Boks – JONATHAN, VIA SMS “Costs to ac­quire and broad­cast live sports are ex­pen­sive, specif­i­cally pre­mium sports such as rugby and cricket,” says Ma­ri­etjie Groe­newald, head of Mul­tiChoice Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tion. “Su­perS­port not only needs to ac­quire the rights for broad­cast, but also has to send out­side broad­cast units to film the games.”

M-Net CEO Yolisa Phahle touched a nerve in 2016 when she men­tioned “chan­nel unbundling” for the DStv bouquet and that got many of the 6 mil­lion sub­scribers ask­ing – again – why they can’t choose their own chan­nels on the bouquet. It’s not that sim­ple though, as we found out from Mark Rayner, the CEO of Mul­tiChoice South Africa. “Most peo­ple have the im­pres­sion that if they just sign up for three or four chan­nels, it’ll be cheaper. But the re­al­ity is dif­fer­ent.”


The cost of each chan­nel pro­vided by DStv is dif­fer­ent and Mark says that “if high- cost chan­nels were spread over just a few sub­scribers, it would make it more ex­pen­sive for them. They might end up pay­ing in ex­cess of R1 500 per month for only a cou­ple of chan­nels they want, where the pre­mium DStv bouquet is R789 per month”. “Luck­ily” that’s not go­ing to hap­pen be­cause chan­nel unbundling “isn’t on the cards right now”, adds Mark.


And it’s also not as sim­ple as say­ing there are 100 chan­nels, so that’s R7.89 per chan­nel for the pre­mium sub­scrip­tion rate of R789. “That’s not the case at all,” ex­plains Mark. “Con­sider this – our ana­logue cus­tomers, who only get M-Net and one sports chan­nel, pay R369 per month. That gives you per­spec­tive on how ex­pen­sive some of the pre­mium chan­nels are.”


The most pop­u­lar chan­nels are the ones that give view­ers the most sought-af­ter and ex­clu­sive con­tent, like Game Of Thrones (2011- cur­rent) – and they’re the most ex­pen­sive ones too. “The M-Net chan­nels, where we buy high qual­ity Hol­ly­wood movies, pre­mium con­tent and sports rights, are in­sanely ex­pen­sive. We’re talk­ing mil­lions and es­pe­cially now with the weak Rand ver­sus in­ter­na­tional cur­ren­cies,” Mark ex­plains. “Peo­ple will have to fork out much more than they can af­ford when choos­ing their own chan­nels be­cause the costs vary so much.”


How­ever, DStv tries to en­sure that its sub­scribers feel that they are get­ting the most value for their money. “We have to make sure that peo­ple get the high­est qual­ity of en­ter­tain­ment for the money they spend on their monthly sub­scrip­tion. We con­stantly mon­i­tor viewer feed­back to make sure we de­liver the right goods, to the right peo­ple, at the right price,” says Mark.


Sub­scribers have also ar­gued that they should pay less when DStv closes chan­nels, like M-Net Edge, Fam­ily and Movies Show­case in April. “They might think they’re be­ing robbed, but we are just spread­ing the con­tent over fewer chan­nels. They still get the goods, just on a dif­fer­ent chan­nel,” rea­sons Mark, teas­ing that “there might be a cou­ple of new chan­nels on the way in 2017”.

Rugby star Siya Kolisi.

Pre­mium se­ries like Game of Thrones aren’t cheap and are part of the rea­son unbundling is un­likely to hap­pen. Mul­tiChoice SA CEO Mark Rayner.

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