DStv’s latest move against password sharing is a great way to lose even more subscribers

On Tuesday DStv fired a shot, a metaphorical shot of course, at its customers.

MultiChoice announced by way of a surreptitious blog post and notifications that it was going to start cracking down on password sharing.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to counteract password sharing and piracy, while continuing to bring you the best viewing experience, we will be introducing measures to limit concurrent streaming,” the broadcaster wrote.

“From 22 March 2022, customers will be limited to streaming DStv on one device at a time. They will still be able to watch previously downloaded content on a second device.”

The point about piracy is bizarre as it seems to imply that if you are sharing a password you are pirating content which is just stretching the definition of piracy.

Tell me MultiChoice, if I as a non-subscriber go visit my parents and DStv is on in the background, am I pirating the content because my parents are sharing the content with me?

What makes this move even more bizarre is that MultiChoice doesn’t seem perturbed by any “password sharing and piracy” over on Showmax. In its own notice it states that this decision will not impact Showmax.

Of course, Showmax might not be as much of a target for “password sharing and privacy” but without any data or justification, MultiChoice is asking us to trust them. To be clear, we don’t trust MultiChoice and we’re fed up with the way it does business.

We’ve asked MultiChoice why this move against “password sharing and piracy” hasn’t been applied to Showmax and we were told by the firm that, “Showmax is a different platform to DSTV, a customer may register five devices on a Showmax account and stream on two registered devices simultaneously.”

To us this screams, Showmax is the better product. While it may not have the huge swathes of content DStv boasts, at least you can watch two different pieces of content at the same time.

This is loss

At R8 388 for a year’s subscription of DStv Premium streaming, assuming no discounts have been applied, viewers now don’t have access to concurrent streaming or indeed 4K streaming which is becoming increasingly popular.

Of course the big question many have is why MultiChoice is making this move so to find out we took a look at the firm’s financial reports over the last three years.

In its financial report for the period ending 30th September 2021 MultiChoice reported that its subscriber base had grown a meagre two percent or by approximately 200 000.

However, looking at the financial report for the period ending 30th September 2020, we see that DStv’s growth was already stalling during the pandemic with the number of new subscribers added amounting to 500 000.

As an aside, MultiChoice reported subscriber growth in millions for 2020 and 2021. That means growth was 0.5 million for 2020. It’s very aspirational of MultiChoice, but it makes things murky when it comes to analysing the data.

It is painfully apparent that DStv has a subscriber growth problem and for good reason. These days sport is really the only unique offering DStv has and even that market share is being eaten into as various sporting bodies shift toward streaming events on their own platforms.

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, YouTube, and the forthcoming Disney+ are where folks are getting content these days and none are as restrictive as DStv plans to be when it comes to concurrent streams.

The question now is whether DStv subscribers will indeed cancel their subscription.

Glancing at social media there are calls for a boycott but, there have been similar calls for this in the past. While we want to believe that customers are serious this time around, we won’t really know until MultiChoice submits its next financial report.

Of course, we could know sooner if customers turn the screws hard enough and MultiChoice walks this decision back. And we encourage South Africans to make their voices heard in this regard.

This move is perhaps the dumbest we’ve seen from a company so far this year, and Truth Social launched this week. DStv customers with multiple people in a house who want to watch different things are now being likened to pirates and if we were paying the firm R8 388 for that privilege, we’d cancel.


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