DStv in South Africa – Subscriber numbers from 1985 to 2019

MultiChoice Group has released its investor roadshow presentation, in which it details what the company has to offer investors.

The launch of the presentation follows MultiChoice Group releasing its pre-listing statement in compliance with the JSE’s listings requirements.

The group – which includes the likes of MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa, and Showmax – is set to begin trading on the JSE on 27 February 2019.

Growth in South Africa

As part of its presentation, MultiChoice has detailed how its South African operation has grown since 1985.

While MultiChoice was founded in 1995, the M-Net channel was launched by Naspers in South Africa 1985.

A SuperSport offering was then launched in 1986, as the channel continued to grow. MultiChoice’s formation in 1995 was the result of M-Net dividing it operations, with the MultiChoice unit taking over subscriber management.

The graph below from the investor presentation shows that since 1985, MultiChoice South Africa’s operations – which are centred around DStv – have grown significantly in terms of subscriber numbers.

MultiChoice’s figures show that from 1985 to 1996, subscriber numbers grew from 0.1 million to 1.0 million.

From 1996 onward, the growth continued, but at an unimpressive rate, and by 2006 MultiChoice South Africa had 1.5 million subscribers.

This “slow” growth over the first 21 years of operation kicked into high gear from 2007 onward, however, and hundreds of thousands of subscribers were added annually going forward.

From 2011 to H1 2019, subscriber numbers more than doubled, going from 3.5 million to the current 7.2 million.


Revenue affected

It must be noted that this subscriber growth does not come without a caveat.

According to Naspers’ financial results for the six months to 30 September 2018, while subscriber numbers are up average revenue per user (ARPU) is down.

This is thanks to growth in the mass-market, which consists of packages such as DStv Access. These are much cheaper than the flagship package DStv Premium.

The increase in mass-market users while DStv Premium numbers dropped resulted in ARPU declining from R347 to R335 in South Africa.

MultiChoice previously stated that DStv Premium has been hit by the launch of Netflix in South Africa, and its large content library at a relatively cheap price.

Compelling content

A driving factor behind DStv’s growth is the content it offers, and MultiChoice acknowledged this in its presentation.

The company detailed its international content offering and the major studios it receives content from. This includes the movies and kids’ content available on DStv.

As shown in the graph below, MultiChoice has access to content from NBC, 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Walt Disney, and HBO.

Two of the major players whose content it does not have access to are Netflix and Amazon – which both offer their own subscription streaming services.


Now read: DStv Now launches Xbox and Hisense TV apps

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DStv in South Africa – Subscriber numbers from 1985 to 2019