DStv fighting to keep subscribers

DStv lost subscribers across its packages during the 2022/23 financial year, and the broadcaster is fighting to hold onto its remaining customers.

This includes offering substantial deals on its hardware. A MyBroadband reader was offered the opportunity to upgrade to the 4K-capable Explora Ultra decoder for R5 per month on top of their current subscription fee.

They told us they were looking to upgrade to the top-tier decoder as the hard drive in their current unit broke. They also want to take advantage of DStv’s 4K Rugby World Cup broadcasts.

Their current subscription fee includes DStv Premium at R879 and an added R115 in the form of DStv’s Access fee.

Upon enquiring about buying the decoder cash, they were offered the opportunity to pay R5 extra per month on a two-year contract to upgrade to the DStv Explora Ultra decoder.

“For R5 more per month on a 24-month contract, I get a new Explora Ultra decoder, dish, LNB, and full installation,” they said.

“If I cancel the subscription at any time, I have to pay R189 multiplied by the remaining months of the contract.”

The added fee works out to R120 extra for the duration of the contract.

For reference, DStv advertises the Explora Ultra decoder for R2,699.

MyBroadband asked MultiChoice for further details and if it offered any other deals like the one offered to the reader.

The company said the deal appears to be customer-specific and isn’t generally available.

DStv offers decoders bundled with its Premium, Compact Plus, and Compact packages. These are compared in the table below.

DStv decoder contracts
Package Price With decoder, installation, and Access Fee Added decoder cost Two-year cost of decoder
DStv Premium R879** R1,114** R120 R2,880
DStv Compact Plus R599** R844** R130 R3,120
DStv Compact R479** R714** R120 R2,880
Reader deal R994* R999 R5 R120
* The reader’s current subscription is R994 per month for DStv Premium and includes the R115 Access Fee. Adding the 4K Ultra decoder only adds R5 per month to the subscription fee.
** These bundles do not include the R115 Access Fee. It has been added on to make the comparison clear.

DStv appears to be offering deals such as the above to retain existing subscribers.

This comes after the pay-TV broadcaster reported declining subscribers across its package catalogue during the 2022/23 financial year.

Its subscribers declined from 8.16 million to 8.016 million between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023 — a drop of around 144,000 or 1.8%.

During the 2021/22 financial year, the company reported a much lower decline from 8.177 million to 8.16 million subscribers.

Before these decreases, DStv was adding subscribers every year.

The broadcaster also continues to hike its pricing annually. Its latest price increase took effect on 1 April 2023 and saw package prices rise by an average of 4.3% across its satellite pay-TV portfolio.

While it has limited its price increases to some extent since 2018, its customers continue to cancel their subscriptions or downgrade to lower-tier packages.

However, this could partly be due to customers cancelling certain expenses to combat the rising cost of food, fuel, and other essential products.

To limit inflation and protect the rand’s value, the South African Reserve Bank has increased interest rates, resulting in higher debt-servicing costs.

In addition, many households have been hit with hikes in electricity, water, and property tariffs in 2023.

InfoQuest recently conducted a survey to determine which expenses South Africans are ditching in cost-cutting exercises during these tough economic times.

InfoQuest’s survey revealed that most respondents (28%) cancelled their gym memberships, while 18% cancelled their DStv subscriptions.

Now read: DStv’s big pricing problem

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DStv fighting to keep subscribers