Goodbye DStv — smart TV and media box price comparison

DStv is facing intense competition from international streaming services in South Africa, and its decision to limit streaming to one device could make these foreign services more appealing to the country’s residents.

Although these streaming services are available on many modern TVs, those without smart TVs can buy a media box or streaming stick to watch platforms like Netflix, Disney +, and Amazon Prime Video.

It can also work out cheaper to do so.

MyBroadband compared the price of smart TVs of various sizes to that of buying a similar-sized non-smart TV and a peripheral media device.

We compared TVs ranging from 32 to 50 inches in size and selected the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, Chromecast with Google TV, and Apple TV HD 32GB for the streaming devices.

The Xiaomi Mi TV Stick is the cheapest option at R749, while the Chromecast with Google TV and Apple TV HD 32GB cost R1,179 and R3,169, respectively.

Our analysis found it was more expensive to fork out for a smart TV than to buy a Xiaomi Mi TV Stick and a similar-sized TV for three of the four sizes compared.

However, several of the unconnected TV and media device combinations only came in cheaper because the screens were lower resolution than their smart TV counterparts.

Chromecast with Google TV and Apple TV HD 32GB devices are substantially more expensive than the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, and none of the combinations they featured in were cheaper.

The only size category where the smart TV worked out decisively cheaper was for 40-inch TVs, using Skyworth’s 40STD6500 priced at R3,999. The cheapest TV and streaming stick combination came in at R4,448.

In the 43-inch category, opting for a Xiaomi Mi TV Stick and Toshiba 43S39 over a Hisense smart TV can save you a few rands.

However, Hisense’s A6G smart TV models support upscaled ultra-high definition resolutions, whereas Toshiba’s S39 series is only 1080p (full HD).

The situation is similar in the 50-inch comparison featuring the Hisense A6G and Sansui SLED50FHD.

Therefore, while cheaper unconnected TVs may be paired with a media box, it does come at the cost of image quality.

Another factor to consider when comparing media streaming devices and smart TVs is that media boxes and streaming sticks tend to remain performant for longer.

Apps on smart TVs can start to feel sluggish after a few years, whereas even older Apple TVs continue to perform well and receive regular software updates.

If a media box starts performing poorly, you can also replace it with a newer model without replacing the whole TV.

DStv bleeding Premium subscribers

MultiChoice has been bleeding subscribers on its high-end packages for several years.

It also recorded its first decline in mid-market DStv Compact and Commercial subscribers in 2022.

Although DStv has tempered its price hikes in recent years, customers still seem to be cancelling or downgrading.

The broadcaster hiked its package prices by an average of 2.7% in 2022, which it highlighted was significantly lower than the projected consumer price index for the year.

DStv’s premium market segment has lost roughly 300,000 customers since 2018, while its mid-market segment has declined to 2018 levels.

This is despite DStv’s overall subscriber base increasing substantially in 2020 and 2021, driven mainly by entry-level customer growth.

MultiChoice CEO Calvin Mawela has said the company plans to gain more viewers by focusing on locally produced content in its markets.

Recently, DStv has been under pressure from international streaming services and local competitors and is facing increased regulatory scrutiny.

Despite this, DStv scrapped the ability for its subscribers to watch two video streams on one account this year.

MultiChoice said this was to crack down on password sharing, which was rife especially during live sporting events.

However, international streaming services generally allow multiple streams to run simultaneously.

As a result, South Africans that prefer international programming might find a shift to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney+ more appealing.

It should be noted that Netflix also plans to implement measures to combat account sharing.

However, it has tried to develop products and functionality to meet subscribers halfway.

These include Profile Transfer, which lets subscribers move profiles between accounts, including personalised recommendations, viewing history, saved games, and other settings.

Netflix has also been testing a system that allows customers to create sub-accounts, each with its own password, for cheaper than a Netflix Standard subscription.

This way, multi-household families could potentially share a single account with sub-accounts. If a household grows to need its own account, its members can then transfer their profiles out.

The table below compares the prices of smart TVs and TVs with media boxes across four screen sizes.

Smart TV and media box price comparison
Screen size Smart TV Price TV with media box Price
32-inch Skyworth 32STD6500 R2,999 Sinotec STL-32E10 + Xiaomi Mi TV Stick R2,748
Sinotec STL-32E10 + Chromecast with Google TV R3,178
Sinotec STL-32E10 + Apple TV HD 32 GB R5,168
40-inch Skyworth 40STD6500 R3,999 Hisense 40A5200 + Xiaomi Mi TV Stick R4,448
Hisense 40A5200 + Chromecast with Google TV R4,878
Hisense 40A5200 + Apple TV HD 32 GB R6,868
43-inch Hisense 43A6G (UHD/4K) R4,999 Toshiba 43S39 (1080p)+ Xiaomi Mi TV Stick R4,248
Toshiba 43S39 (1080p) + Chromecast with Google TV R4,678
Toshiba 43S39 (1080p) + Apple TV HD 32 GB R6,668
50-inch Hisense 50A6G (UHD/4K) R5,999 Sansui SLED50FHD (1080p)+ Xiaomi Mi TV Stick R5,748
Sansui SLED50FHD (1080p) + Chromecast with Google TV R6,178
Sansui SLED50FHD (1080p) + Apple TV 32 GB R8,168

Now read: DStv and Netflix crack down on password sharing

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Goodbye DStv — smart TV and media box price comparison