DStv alternatives: pricing online video in SA

There aren’t many pay TV options in South Africa, whether broadcast or streamed online, but that hasn’t stopped some from seeking alternative ways to pay for the content they want.

While DStv does offer online options for watching TV series and even live sports, it is bundled with its Premium bouquet which is set to cost R625 per month from 1 April 2013.

To get access to series and sports online you would therefore first have to subscribe to a satellite broadcast TV service.

DStv does offer online movie rental services independently of its satellite bouquets through BoxOffice Online, which Apple’s iTunes has recently begun to compete with by offering not only rentals but movie purchases as well.

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Services such as Netflix, HuluPlus, and LoveFilm that offer a legitimate online alternative to DStv are not available from South Africa, typically using geographic filters to block access outside the regions they do operate in.

However, there are tools that let users circumvent the geographic restrictions imposed by these services.

For those with the savvy, one option is a VPN that lets you break out into the Internet from the US or UK.

OC Shield is one such service that offers a VPN for security purposes that runs on PCs and smartphones, with the side-effect of making it look like you’re from the UK or US.

Another option is a service like UnoTelly, which is a DNS-based service rather than VPN-based.

According to UnoTelly, this lets them avoid adding a “middle-man”, allowing faster downloads than when going through a proxy.

UnoTelly + Netflix vs DStv prices

UnoTelly costs between $4 and $8 per month, depending on the package you take, and one reader reported that even without subscribing to additional services this already lets you access BBC iPlayer.

A subscription to Netflix, which offers unlimited video streaming, costs $8 per month.

4Mbps uncapped ADSL costs between R700 and R900 per month, though it could be argued that the full cost of the Internet connection shouldn’t be included in a comparison with DStv’s subscription prices.

For the sake of completeness, however, this is included in the table below for readers to decide how much of the cost of the connection to apportion to the online TV service subscription.

The cost of the analogue phone line rental that all ADSL subscribers must pay is not included.

UnoTelly + Netflix Price DStv Online/Catchup Price
UnoTelly $3.99 (R37.20) DStv Premium R625
Netflix $7.99 (R74.31) PVR Access R70
4 Mbps Uncapped ADSL (Cybersmart) R685
Total R812 Total R695
Exchange rate: R9.30/$1

There are other major differences to take into account, such as the lack of unlimited movie streaming from DStv, as well as the lack of local sports through the online option.

Star Wars: "My Lord, is that... legal?"
“My Lord, is that… legal?”

Another concern is whether it is legal to bypass the geographic filters that websites use to restrict access to content.

Nicholas Hall, a tech lawyer at Michalsons Attorneys, explained that the use of services such as UnoTelly is perfectly legal.

However, just as with BitTorrent tools, it is about what the services are used for and Hall said that unfortunately downloading or streaming content outside the regions it’s licensed for is copyright infringement, even if you paid for it.

More online video news

Uncapped, unshaped ADSL with Internet TV

DStv BoxOffice Online gets more movies

DStv prices to increase

MultiChoice to fight Internet piracy in SA

Hat tip to Nicholas for letting us know about his experiences with UnoTelly, Netflix, and Spotify.

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DStv alternatives: pricing online video in SA