South Africans are dumping their DStv Premium and top-tier Discovery Health products for cheaper alternatives.
Moneyweb’s Hilton Tarrant recently showed that there has been a 22% decline in subscribers in Discovery Health Medical Scheme’s top three tiers.
“The top plans – Executive, Comprehensive Series and Priority Series – account for 19% of the medical scheme’s 1.35 million members, down from 28% in 2013,” Tarrant wrote.
The report added that while the number of subscribers of Discovery’s top tiers declined, the company’s overall customer base increased by 13% from 2013.
Same pattern as DStv
Discovery Health’s subscriber pattern is similar to that of DStv, where high-end subscribers are dumping the service while the total subscriber base continues to increase.
DStv Premium subscribers have been declining since 2015, and MultiChoice has been unable to stop this decline.
MultiChoice’s annual results for the year ended 31 March 2019 showed that its DStv Premium product remains under pressure.
While the company did not publish its exact number of DStv Premium subscribers, it admitted that the segment was suffering due to competition and a difficult economy.
MultiChoice said its Premium subscriber mix decreased from 22% to 20%, with its Premium subscriber growth decreasing by 7%.
The graph below depicts DStv Premium subscriber numbers for the MultiChoice Group since 2012.
It should be noted that the figures for 2012 to 2015 are estimated based on subscriber mix data, as Naspers only started reporting its DStv Premium subscriber numbers in recent annual results.
Growth in DStv subscribers
Despite continuing to lose DStv Premium subscribers, MultiChoice has seen strong growth in total DStv subscribers.
Over the past year, MultiChoice grew its DStv subscriber base from 6.9 million to 7.4 million – an increase of 8%.
This growth is mainly thanks to the popularity of its more affordable mass-market products.
The company’s mass-market products grew by 23%, compared with 2% for its mid-market products and a decline of 7% in its premium products.
Affordability is key
MultiChoice admitted that the 7% decline in DStv Premium subscribers was mainly due to affordability.
It can be inferred that the high price of Discovery Health’s top-tier products is also the cause for their decline, with people opting for more affordable options instead.
The South African economy and consumers are under pressure, and dumping DStv Premium and top-tier medical aid products are ways for people to cut their monthly expenses.
DStv also faces increased competition from Netflix thanks to the growth in fast and affordable uncapped broadband connections in South Africa.
With South Africa’s sluggish economic growth set to continue in the short term, MultiChoice and Discovery could continue to face a decline in their high-end subscribers.