The rising cost of living coupled with more hours of load-shedding and high unemployment has led many consumers to terminate their pay TV subscriptions while others are downgrading to more affordable packages.
This week MultiChoice said it lost more than 100,000 subscribers at the end of March, adding that customers are more selective when signing up to avoid periods of excessive load-shedding.
MultiChoice has 9.3-million subscribers in SA, 57% of whom are subscribed to cheaper packages such as Family, Access, and EasyView.
The broadcaster said blackouts have hammered its SA subscriber base and activity levels, with a noticeable effect when load-shedding reaches stage 4 and above, “even when consumers have disposable income”.
The company’s premium segment, which includes Compact Plus packages, recorded a 6% decline in subscribers to 1.3-million, but MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela said the losses are slowing.
“It is plateauing. We managed to arrest [the decline] to reasonable levels,” he said.
The premium segment, which costs about R900 a month, has been on a downward trend for several as consumers switch to international streaming platforms. However, Mawela said eight out of 10 people on streaming platforms have kept their DStv subscription.
The hardest hit DStv segment is the middle market, which includes Compact, while the mass market continues to demonstrate room to grow, said Mawela.
“The mid-market has been the most exposed to the macroeconomic pressures.”
The changing mix of subscribers, combined with the lower level of subscriber activity, has resulted in monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) declining 5% from R269 to R256.
As the SA business matures, MultiChoice is focusing on generating additional revenue streams in areas such as sport betting, insurance and internet service to offset declining ARPU and margin pressure.
MultiChoice will also launch the new-look Showmax after a partnership with international production group NBCUniversal Media. Showmax competes directly with Netflix, Disney and Amazon Prime Video.
“The exciting launch of new products and price points are set for Showmax to show strong future growth,” the company said