Consumers are putting pressure on DStv to cut its prices, as its SuperSport channels are currently not showing any live sports.
Many users are subscribed to DStv, particularly DStv Premium, because it offers excellent sports coverage through SuperSport.
The coronavirus pandemic has shut down the world’s biggest sporting events, however, leaving sports broadcasters with little fresh content to provide to their viewers.
DStv customers have turned to Twitter to vent their frustrations at having to pay their full subscription prices despite no live sports on SuperSport.
As of noon on Thursday, #DstvMustFall was trending in South Africa on Twitter – with over 24,000 tweets on the topic.
Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that DStv implemented price increases in the first week of April – during the national lockdown.
The monthly fees for Premium, Compact Plus, and Family subscribers went up.
What Twitter users say
Twitter users have posted complaints about DStv broadcasting “too many repeats” on its channels – including SuperSport.
“DStv has no loyalty to its clients, all it does is increase prices even during lockdown,” one user said.
“So DStv is not dropping any package price even though they no longer broadcast any live games,” another stated.
A petition calling on DStv to give subscribers a payment break or to decrease prices was also created by customers.
Sport is a key offering
As DStv’s SuperSport channels are a major selling point for the broadcaster, the lack of live sports will leave many viewers frustrated.
DStv’s parent company MultiChoice has the rights to broadcast many local and international sporting events, including live soccer, rugby, cricket and tennis matches.
Popular sports such as motor racing, boxing, cycling, and athletics are also shown on DStv.
Although it does not disclose the cost of these rights, a report by Mail Online provided an indication of MultiChoice’s substantial investment.
In 2015, the publication reported that MultiChoice paid around R6 billion for the rights to broadcast the English Premier League from 2016 to 2019.
It also outbid the SABC for the rights to broadcast PSL games for five years from 2007, which cost R1.6 billion. In 2011, this deal was renewed for another five years at a cost of over R2 billion.
These rights are essential for financing sporting events, clubs, and organisations.
No broadcasting, no costs?
With major sport tournaments now cancelled or called off indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak, the question has arisen as to whether companies like MultiChoice will still have to pay for their broadcasting rights, or whether these have been paid for up-front as part of long-term contracts.
This includes rights to the English Premier League, Super Rugby, Formula One, and Wimbledon.
Additionally, can any changes in rights costs be passed onto DStv customers in the form of reduced monthly payments.
A report by CNBC has stated that US broadcasters have “paid billions for sports they won’t receive this year”, and there may be battles for refunds if global regulations prevent events from taking place.
Documentaries and repeats
To make up for the lack of live sports, SuperSport has started broadcasting various documentaries and repeats of famous matches.
On 27 April, SuperSport 1 will show a Freedom Day Rugby World Cup special. This will include a documentary on the Springboks 1995 win, repeats of the 2007 and 2019 finals, and end with feature film Invictus.
Another sport-focused film on its schedule is Race, which tells the story of how American sprinter Jesse Owens rose to fame in the 100m event. Race will be broadcast on SuperSport 1 at 20:30 on 26 April.
Update – MultiChoice response
MultiChoice told MyBroadband that it cannot comment on the issue at this stage, as it is in a close period before the release of its annual financial results.