R267 DStv price pain

The prices of DStv’s three top-end packages in South Africa have increased by between 40% and 60% over the last decade. DStv Premium subscribers are paying R267 more per month than in 2014.

MultiChoice’s annual DStv price increases are contentious, with many consumers arguing that they are out of sync with the rest of the market.

The company typically adjusts the pricing of all its DStv packages annually on 1 April, the start of its financial year. Its last round of increases saw packages bumped by between 3.1% and 7.8%.

MultiChoice South Africa CEO Marc Jury argued that the adjustments were reasonable, considering the rand’s significant 16% year-on-year depreciation against the US dollar.

The currency’s exchange rate greatly impacts the long-term broadcast sports rights and international studio deals MultiChoice pays for in US dollars.

Higher operating costs and inflation are also blamed for the price hikes. Most consumers don’t care. Many have dumped the service because of rising prices.

Therefore, DStv must carefully balance the need to increase prices with the need to expand its customer base – or at least not lose subscribers.

South Africans have come under immense financial pressure in recent years, with weak economic growth constraining household budgets.

DStv’s Premium segment in South Africa has been in decline for several years, while its overall 90-day subscriber base also dropped for the first time in MultiChoice’s most recent interim results.

The broadcaster has become keenly aware of the price sensitivity of its South African customers.

While several of its earlier price hikes in the past decade were above inflation, the slowdown in customer acquisition in more recent times has forced the broadcaster to reign in the increases.

The average increase in Premium, Compact Plus, and Compact package prices over the past ten years was below the average rate of inflation.

The table below shows how the prices of DStv Premium, Compact Plus, and Compact changed from 2014 to 2024.

The graph shows how the DStv Premium price changed between 2014 and 2024, compared to what price changes linked directly to inflation would have been.

DStv Premium, Compact Plus, and Compact price increases: 2013 to 2023
Year DStv Premium DStv Compact Plus DStv Compact
2014 R665 R399 R295
2015 R699 R425 R319
2016 R759 R459 R345
2017 R789 R489 R365
2018 R809 R509 R385
2019 R809 R519 R399
2020 R819 R529 R399
2021 R829 R539 R409
2022 R839 R549 R429
2023 R879 R579 R449
2024 R929 R619 R469
10-year DStv price increase 40% 55% 60%
10-year inflation 62%

In addition to consumer price pressures, DStv faces intensified competition from international video streaming services.

With increased high-capacity broadband penetration in many parts of the country, many more households have found these services to be a viable alternative to DStv.

For the same price as a DStv Premium subscription, a household can subscribe to a plethora of services — including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and even MultiChoice’s own Showmax. These services offer a much wider range of sought-after movies and TV shows.

MultiChoice has streaming-only versions of its satellite bouquets, for which it kept prices the same during its most recent adjustments. However, these do not offer a substantial discount over its regular satellite plans.

The big price differences between DStv and international streaming services have served to amplify DStv customers’ discontent over price adjustments.

MultiChoice South Africa CEO Marc Jury said that DStv would focus more on its price-guaranteed contract packages to assist with customer acquisition and retention.

Customers willing to make a two-year commitment can sign up for a 24-month contract with no price hikes during that period.

However, it remains to be seen whether this strategy will pay off at a time when consumers are increasingly focused on flexibility.

Not being able to cancel a package without penalty during the period may weigh more heavily than having a fixed price, particularly for households with unsteady income.

There is one area where DStv remains unchallenged in South Africa — live sports broadcasting.

DStv’s Supersport is unrivalled in terms of the range and depth of sports coverage. It is a key factor in many Premium customers continuing to pay for the service despite spending most of their time consuming movies and TV shows on streaming services.

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R267 DStv price pain