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Netflix is trolling the biggest pay-TV service in Africa, MultiChoice’s DStv

by Milicent Atieno
netflix multichoice dstv

South Africa is home to the biggest pay-TV service in Africa, MultiChoice. Ever since Netflix went global and spread its wings beyond America and few other countries where it was exclusively available, the TV streaming service has been poking at DStv.

The chief executive of MultiChoice SA, Calvo Mawela, has long suspected that Netflix has been messing around with them. There has been a paranoia throughout the MultiChoice corporation that Netflix SA is coming after them. Well, Netflix is now turning that paranoia into a hilarious joke is some of its latest ads.

Netflix SA has been running an ad in South Africa played by a popular local comedian – Jason Goliath – depicting a character ‘Man With A Van’ who makes a living out of faking Netflix installations. The Man With A Van comes to clients homes with numerous pointless wires and crazy installations, he even brings with him an empty box with the words Premium HD; that is a direct swipe at DStv’s premium service.

When did the Netflix rain start beating DStv MultiChoice

It all began shortly after Netflix announced it’s spreading its wings across the globe – the announcement was made at the CES 2016 (#NetflixEverywhere campaign). There was a helicopter which flew a banner over MultiChoice’s headquarters in Johannesburg. Then MultiChoice employees started reporting at work that they see Netflix billboards all over around the Johannesburg.

All the while, Netflix remained silent, never releasing a public statement but making moves that spoke louder than words. There is no doubt, Netflix is coming after MultiChoice market, and is starting with customers who are tired of the costly initial installation setup for DStv, followed by an equally expensive monthly subscription of $60 for premium packages.

At just $11.99 per month, Netflix is much cheaper than DStv, but its greatest challenge is that it requires the viewers to have a reliable and robust internet connection. Something that doesn’t come easily in, not just South Africa, but most African countries.

Though there are no official figures from Netflix of how many users in South Africa are streaming from its platform. MultiChoice took the liberty to tabulate how many users Netflix might be having in South Africa; it was as a way to assert its dominant position in the South African market, of course!

According to the MultiChoice tabulations, there are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 Netflix users in South Africa. That is like a drop in the ocean compared to DStv’s 6.6 million users in South Africa. However, there is no denying MultiChoice does feel threatened by Netflix, but it has one great advantage still, the cost of the internet is still relatively high across Africa. And for that, Netflix is finding harder to make in-roads into the African market. For now, MultiChoice appeals better to the African consumers, but that will only last for as long as the cost of the internet remains high.

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