What DStv has been doing to prepare for competition from Netflix

MultiChoice has disputed suggestions that it has not been innovating to ensure that it remained competitive when international streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video launched in South Africa.

This follows negative reactions to MultiChoice’s appeal to ICASA not to over-regulate the pay TV market in South Africa.

It also argued that any regulations ICASA implements for the traditional pay TV sector should apply to streaming services like Netflix, too.

These arguments did not impress Sasfin Securities deputy chairman David Shapiro, who said on Business Day TV’s The Week That Was that DStv’s time was up.

The show’s host, Giulietta Talevi, added that MultiChoice had a 30-year monopoly in South Africa and that companies need to “innovate or die.”

Calvo Mawela, the CEO of MultiChoice South Africa, finds this statement curious – as DStv launched several innovations prior to Netflix entering the market and has continued innovate.

“Many people forget that we launched Showmax way before Netflix got into the country,” Mawela said.


Showmax launched in South Africa on 19 August 2015 as an independent division under the Naspers video entertainment umbrella.

Showmax was integrated into MultiChoice on 1 September 2017. The global launch of Netflix happened on 6 January 2016, although the company held its “official” local launch at the start of 2018.

Prior to Showmax, MultiChoice launched its Catch Up video-on-demand service, offered live streaming of sports, and launched BoxOffice – a transactional video-on-demand service for movie rentals.

MultiChoice’s streaming services have expanded into DStv Now, which offers Compact, Compact Plus, and Premium subscribers the ability to stream Catch Up content and live stream any of the channels they have access to.

“We are busy getting ready to launch a dishless product,” Mawela told MyBroadband.

This will be a streaming-only DStv subscription that does not require a dish or decoder. No launch date has been announced for the service.

So Much More… than Netflix

Mawela said that DStv brought all these elements in on the back of its traditional pay TV offering.

“Netflix just offer you video on demand. We offer you much more than just that,” he said.

“We have continued to strengthen our local content offering, which Netflix will never be able to do. We are also strong in sport.”

He added that there are still huge disparities between those who have access to broadband, and those who don’t.

“We are really trying to make sure we have something for everybody, and have price points for everybody.”

MultiChoice is also working hard to customise Showmax for the South African market, said Mawela. Previously, the Showmax catalogue comprised mainly back seasons and library content, but now more exclusive content is available on the platform.

“We really do want Showmax to be a strong standalone offering,” Mawela said.

It is a great value-add for DStv Premium subscribers, too, and is discounted for Compact and Compact Plus subscribers – but it must also be a solid option for people who prefer to only subscribe to a streaming service, said Mawela.

Now read: The difference between R99 and R169 Netflix

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What DStv has been doing to prepare for competition from Netflix