This graph shows what happened to DStv when Netflix launched in South Africa

MultiChoice has made no secret of the fact that DStv is under pressure thanks to Netflix’s popularity in South Africa.

Naspers chairman Koos Bekker previously said MultiChoice is struggling against Netflix, which he perceives as a major threat to the company.

MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela has also stated that Netflix has an unfair advantage over DStv in South Africa, and that a regulatory change is needed to address this problem.

Mawela said the current regulatory regime is focused on traditional pay-TV services, and does not look at streaming players like Netflix.

MultiChoice has stated that it estimates Netflix has between 300,000 and 400,000 subscribers in South Africa.

The numbers

While estimates and sentiment can provide an indication of what is happening in the local broadcasting market, hard numbers provide a more real picture.

The impact of Netflix launching in South Africa, which took place in January 2016, on DStv subscriber numbers is shown when one looks at its Premium user base.

In terms of TV series and movies, Netflix offers a product that competes with DStv Premium. DStv Premium, however, offers live news channels and multiple sports channels, which Netflix does not.

Any movement on DStv Premium subscriber numbers can therefore be linked to Netflix’s launch in South Africa – as at least a contributing factor.

Elements like a stagnant economy and families having to cut back on luxury spending are other factors which could play a role in DStv Premium subscriber movement.

What cannot be argued, however, is that since Netflix launched in South Africa, DStv Premium subscriber numbers have dropped.

This is shown in the graph below.

It must be noted that in the build-up to Netflix launching in SA, the service had expanded its catalogue and was spreading to more markets in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

South Africans were already accessing Netflix via VPN services, which may have started impacting DStv subscriber numbers before the official local launch at the start of 2016.

DStv 2014-18
(Click to enlarge the graph.)

MultiChoice’s numbers are shown to March each year.

Now read: What DStv and Telkom have in common

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This graph shows what happened to DStv when Netflix launched in South Africa