DStv testing Home Base system to fight password sharing

MultiChoice has started testing a new feature that will presumably allow DStv subscribers to use its streaming services on multiple devices simultaneously within the same household.

The pay-TV broadcaster’s controversial decision to restrict concurrent DStv streams to one in March 2022 was met with fierce backlash from subscribers.

DStv argued the measure was necessary to combat pirate streams and password sharing.

While decoder owners could use all their satellite viewing environments in addition to the stream, streaming-only subscribers were limited to just a single stream.

However, even satellite customers complained that users within the same household as the decoder were constrained by the streaming limit.

A few months after the measure was first implemented, DStv revealed it was working on a solution to that issue.

MultiChoice South Africa CEO at the time, Nyiko Shiburi, called the mechanism “Proximity Control” and explained it would rely on DStv devices — like a decoder — to determine the user’s home location.

While he kept mum on the details, presumably the broadcaster would use device IDs and IP addresses to authenticate concurrent streams.

Nyiko Shiburi, MultiChoice Group CTO and former MultiChoice South Africa CEO

A MyBroadband Forum member recently notified us that the latest DStv Stream mobile app — released on 31 July 2023 — had a new “Home Base” section under the “Settings” page.

We found the feature was also available on an iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphone in our office.

This section of the app allows the user to manage a Home Base device, provided they are connected to the same Internet connection as this device.

In the forum user’s case, this was an Internet-connected Explora decoder.

The IP address of the Home Base device is presumably used to pin down the subscriber’s home location.

While it’s unclear exactly how the feature works in its current form, it likely aims to detect if a device being used on DStv Stream is connected to the same network as the Home Base device.

If this is the case, it should allow for streaming DStv even if another device is streaming.

If the device is not connected to the home network, the standard one-device streaming limit will apply unless the account is subscribed to the new Extra Mobile Stream feature.

The screenshots below show where the Home Base setting is located in the new DStv Stream app and what happens if a user accesses it from a device not connected to the home network.

MultiChoice told MyBroadband the Home Base setting was one of many features its teams were working on to “deliver greater value to DStv customers”.

“This feature is still in development and testing phase, so unfortunately, we are unable to provide any further detail at this time,” the company said.

If the Home Base mechanism works as suspected, DStv can ensure customers within the same household as the primary user can stream as they please, while still limiting the ability for external users to leech off the same subscription.

The approach is similar to what Netflix has done in its password-sharing clampdown over the past few months, which recently made its way to South Africa.

Paid-for Extra Stream feature

DStv recently also launched an Extra Mobile Stream feature for satellite and streaming-only packages.

This allows up to two concurrent streams on DStv Stream, with the secondary being limited to mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

The prices of this feature will vary based on the package you have and are as follows (for a full month):

  • Premium — R199
  • Compact Plus — R149
  • Compact — R99
  • Family — R79
  • Access — R49

At this stage, the maximum number of concurrent streams that DStv will allow one subscription to use with the Home Base feature is still unclear.

While the Extra Mobile Stream feature allows for up to two simultaneous streams, it is unknown whether the streams on the home network will count towards that tally.

Now read: DStv Premium vs Compact — price and channel comparison

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DStv testing Home Base system to fight password sharing