The grass is not always greener on the other side. Multichoice Zimbabwe clients can breathe a bit easier as the service provider says this time around the recent hike for South African viewers will not necessarily translate into a concurrent hike here:“The South African DStv price increases are only for South African DStv subscribers and not for Zimbabwe. At this stage the business is still reviewing our pricing and assessing our current operational costs within the business and economy. Please be assured we will make the necessary announcement to subscribers well before any increase in order to ensure that subscribers have adequate forward notification,” said Multichoice Zimbabwe public relations officer Ms Liz Dziva in response to a query from The Saturday Herald Lifestyle.
Zimbabweans who are still celebrating the recent inclusion of Supersport 3 on the Compact subscriber bouquet had started asking if they had been gifted a Trojan horse when Multichoice Zimbabwe responded to a strong outcry from clients who felt that they were getting the short end of the stick compared to South African counterparts.
“They did not bring the price of subscription down when the rand fell last year. So in reality we have had our price increase already. And also it is common knowledge that here prices are going down rather than up so they should not increase our subscriptions,” said Mr Denford Munda of Highlands. He says he has been a Multichoice client for more than 10 years.
Multichoice has over the past few years annually increased subscriptions by a minimal margin for the lower end bouquets with the Dstv Compact bouquet having gone up by one dollar on 1 March 2015.
The pay TV service provider has thus been battling with a weird sort of piracy where its South African entity inadvertently eats into the Zimbabwean market share. Several entrepreneurial spirits have cashed in on the difference in prices between the South African and Zimbabwean markets to create business for themselves. But they are now feeling the pinch:
“The only bouquet that made sense to use these people was Compact because I wanted the English Premier League and other sports at an affordable price. Now that Multichoice has heard our prayer I have reconnected my local account,” said one subscriber. He said the $29 price tag offered by the pirates compared to the $32 local charge is not worth the risks of being disconnected or ripped off. He said maybe Premium bouquet subscribers who are looking at a $20 monthly difference might still be tempted to continue trafficking with the pirates of the airwaves.
Multichoice Zimbabwe at one point embarked on a drive to disconnect all South African accounts located in Zimbabwe but seem to have failed for the pirates continue to flourish. There have been cases of people being conned by pirates promising SA connections who demand payment through mobile money transfer then disappear into the blue.
Multichoice Zimbabwe also has to deal with the entrance on the scene by Econet’s kwesesports.com and Netflix. Econet offers free sport live-streaming for any subscriber with a compliant handset and mobile data bundles. The national digitalisation programme will add other options to the mix, once it is effected.
Multichoice’s strong points are on variety and affordability for those on the lower scale of the market and it is likely that they will continue to focus on creating brand loyalty in that segment. So Zimbabweans afficionados DStv can breathe easy, for now.