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MultiChoice, which owns South African broadcast satellite service DSTV, is lobbying for Netflix to be regulated. Since entering the African market in 2016, the online streaming service’s growing popularity among viewers has DSTV, the continent’s largest paid television operator, in a panic.
As Internet usage in Africa grows, viewers are opting for streaming services over watching their favorite shows the traditional way. Netflix, which offers thousands of shows and movies at $8 per month with no set schedule or ads, is becoming an obvious choice.
As Internet usage in Africa grows, viewers are opting for streaming services over watching their favorite shows the traditional way.
For many years, DSTV has had no competition in the paid TV market and because of this, the broadcaster has been able to keep charging high prices for its packages. Its premium package, which goes for $55 per month, allows subscribers to access the BoxOffice service, which offers movie rentals for 48 hours, at an additional fee.
Unlike Netflix, DSTV has an exclusive sports broadcasting roster which has been its saving grace, and plays a big role in retaining millions of subscribers. But, despite this, MultiChoice said that it had lost over 100,000 subscribers in the previous financial year in South Africa, and a further 40,000 this year.
In a recent interview with Business Day, MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela blamed the unregulated Netflix for this. “As a country we have national objectives … if I was to be very narrow, I would say [to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa]; treat us like Netflix, so we do not have to pay tax or comply with empowerment regulations.”
Although Netflix has not officially disclosed its numbers, MultiChoice believes that it has grown its reach to between 300,000 and 400,000 subscribers since entering the South African market two years ago.
Despite its lead in sports, DSTV will continue to lose subscribers should it not reduce its monthly or annual rates. Additionally, Netflix has pulled its registered shows off DSTV, providing more reason for viewers to change their habits and switch to streaming.