Trouble for DStv in South Africa as it bleeds subscribers

 ·12 Jun 2024

Media group Multichoice says it is stemming the decline of DStv subscribers in South Africa, but the group has still seen about 400,000 people drop their packages.

In reporting its full-year results for the year ended March 2024, the group noted a 5% decline in subscribers in South Africa, taking it to 7.6 million (a loss of 400,000 subscribers).

It attributed the losses to tough economic conditions in the country, including high inflation and persistent load shedding over the reporting period, which piled financial pressures onto its customer base.

Included in the subscriber exodus was a 5% decline in DStv Premium subscribers over the period, continuing the group’s struggle to hold on to its more affluence customers. The drop in Premium follows declines of 6% in the same group in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

(3) March 2023 base has been restated to exclude the impact of Surprise and Delight subscribers

Looking at its premium Pay-TV operations in South Africa, the group noted an 8% decline in the segment, which includes the DStv Premium and Compact Plus bouquets.

The group said that Premium bouquet was more stable than Compact Plus, given its focused retention efforts and “the progression in the Premium base towards a more stable core cohort of subscribers”.

However, “the Compact base, much like the Compact Plus base, is most exposed to the challenges in the macro-economic environment with the mid-market customer tier down 9% as a result,” Multichoice said.

After delivering consistent growth in recent years, the mass market tier also declined by 2% due to pressure in the Family base, load shedding, and reduced decoder subsidies, Multichoice said.

“The South African economy continues to endure severe economic pressure, with consumers under financial distress due to the cost-of-living squeeze from high inflation and interest rates.

“Consistent load shedding through FY24 created an environment where customers without backup power were reluctant to subscribe to our service due to the uncertainty of whether they would be able to watch,” it said.

The net effect was increased pressure on subscriber numbers, activity and viewership.

Overall, active subscribers in South Africa were down 5% to 7.6 million at year-end, from just over 8 million previously – a loss of around 400,000 subscribers.

This includes a loss of approximately 100,000 subscribers from the premium segment, 200,000 from the middle market and 100,000 in the mass market.

The decline in subscription revenues also weighed on the segment’s total revenues (down 2% to ZAR33.6 billion).

Average revenue per user in South Africa was flat at R290, and down marginally on a 90-active basis to R254 (from R256 previously).

Across segments, ARPU was up 4% on premium, reflecting price increases.

Read: DStv piracy kingpin nailed in South Africa raid

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