DStv’s downward spiral in South Africa

Viewership of DStv’s most popular programmes has plunged in the past year and is at its lowest in six years, data from the Broadcast Research Council of South Africa (BRCSA) reveals.

The BRCSA publishes monthly TV audience measurement (TAMS) reports based on Nielsen’s Peoplemeter technology. This pulls data from devices plugged into the TV sets or decoders of a representative sample of the country’s television viewers.

It uses the data to generate an overview of the most-viewed episodes and broadcasts during prime time on SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3, E-tv, and DStv.

MyBroadband took these figures to calculate the total number of viewers for the top 30 most watched episodes or programmes on DStv in the month of July — from 2017 to 2022.

We then worked out an average viewership figure for each year to compare.

The data showed a decline in viewership on DStv over the past six years.

While viewership increased when comparing 2017 and 2021, it dropped substantially in 2022.

There was an average of about 865,371 viewers across the top 30 most popular broadcasts on DStv in July 2021, compared to 686,674 in July 2022.

That is a decline of about 19%, meaning almost a fifth fewer subscribers tuned in to the most popular shows.

The graph below shows the average number of viewers on DStv’s top 30 programmes in July of each year from 2017 to 2022.

The difference between the top broadcasts in both years — two episodes of Mzansi Magic drama Gomora — shows a clear symptom of the big decline.

In July 2021, the most-watched episode amassed over 2 million viewers, compared to the 1.3 million the top episode drew in July 2022.

Overall, the average viewership among the top 30 shows dropped from 724,083 in July 2017 to 686,674 in July 2022 — a decline of 5% in the past six years.

July 2018 was somewhat of an anomaly, with a large spike in viewership due to many people tuning in to watch several 2018 Fifa World Cup matches.

Losing mid-market and high-end viewers

Another interesting observation from the data was that MultiChoice broadcasts most of the top 30 programmes on DStv on Mzansi Magic, which is only available on the more expensive Compact, Compact Plus, and Premium bouquets.

DStv’s most recent annual results showed significant losses in these market segments between March 2021 and March 2022.

The broadcaster reported a 4% loss in 90-day active subscribers in the Premium segment in South Africa, which comprises its Compact Plus and Premium packages.

The mid-market segment, which includes Compact and Commercial, also declined by 6%.

Although it gained customers on the low-end EasyView, Access, and Family packages, this increase has not been enough to boost viewership on its top 30 most popular programmes.

Now read: DStv quietly added two new channels in June and July

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DStv’s downward spiral in South Africa