DStv hikes prices for hotels and restaurants just before Rugby World Cup

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) described DStv’s decision to hike the prices of its business packages just before the Rugby World Cup as “unconscionable, unjustified, and unaffordable,” IOL reports.

This comes after MultiChoice announced major changes to its DStv business packages in early August, including price hikes that will increase monthly fees by as much as 24%.

Rasa CEO Wendy Alberts accused MultiChoice of being opportunistic when it decided to hike prices a month before the Rugby World Cup, especially considering the South African Broadcasting Corporation doesn’t have the rights to air it.

“The calculated timing of this massive 50% increase is designed to hold our members and broader hospitality industry to ransom,” said Alberts.

“The Rugby World Cup belongs to all South Africans … it is an incredible opportunity to stimulate tourism and boost the hospitality industry, which is still recovering from the effects of lockdown, load shedding and many other challenges.”

After the recent price hikes, Rasa is trying to arrange immediate talks with MultiChoice. However, Alberts said the hospitality industry had invited MultiChoice to talks about pricing on multiple occasions, which it ignored.

According to Anton Gillis, CEO of Kruger Gate Hotel, a typical 100-room hotel spends around R468,000 a year on DStv.

He said this expense was unsustainable, considering the industry was still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gillis believes this will eventually lead to a shift in how the industry offers viewing entertainment to patrons.

“In my opinion, the future of in-room entertainment will be giving guests the best of their preferred home entertainment options,” he said.

“This could mean that hotels may implement software systems that guests can use to log in to their streaming accounts as they check-in, and it definitely means that hotels need to provide excellent Wi-Fi.”

Essentially, he believes hotels will opt for smart TVs, streaming devices, or specific software to let users sign into their own streaming accounts instead of continuing to pay for DStv’s offerings.

DStv’s triple-blow business package price hikes

In early August 2023, MultiChoice-owned DStv announced that it had restructured its Business Play packages, with the changes taking effect on 1 September.

“Our DStv Business Packages have not had a price review in many years despite the weakening rand, inflationary increases to double digits in some areas, and a poor economic trading environment,” said DStv.

However, the changes weren’t as straightforward as a simple price increase.

While DStv revealed that prices would increase by as much as 24% on 1 September, it also made several other changes, causing a much larger effective increase for smaller establishments that want to show the rugby.

MultiChoice altered which sports channels were included with each subscription, moving rugby, cricket, and motorsport to the most expensive Play Ultra package.

These sports were previously available on the mid-tier Play Essential package.

“What we are doing is aligning the sport on the Commercial Play package structure closer to how we sell DStv in Residential,” DStv said in an email to business customers.

Moreover, the company said the restructuring included limiting viewing points to two televisions per subscriber — down from three.

A MyBroadband reader who owns a pub in Johannesburg said the price increases, combined with the channel restructuring and reduction of TVs allowed per subscription, meant his business faced an increase of 125% per TV.

He explained that MultiChoice previously offered patrons a range of sports — including rugby, cricket, and motorsport — through the Play Essential package for roughly R267 per TV per month.

DStv’s restructuring forced them to upgrade to the Ultra package to cover the same sports, and with DStv limiting the number of TVs per subscription to two, it now works out to R600 per TV per month.

Now read: DStv Premium vs Netflix Premium price hikes in South Africa

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DStv hikes prices for hotels and restaurants just before Rugby World Cup