A significant blow to Multi Choice, the parent company of DStv, recent interim results for the 2023 fiscal year reveal a staggering loss of almost half a million subscribers in South Africa alone over the past year. As of September 2023, DStv’s 90-day active subscribers in its home country dwindled to 8.629 million, witnessing a sharp decline from the 9.115 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2022.
One of the major factors contributing to this substantial subscriber exodus was the termination of pricing promotions that Multi Choice had initiated in 2022 to alleviate financial burdens on customers during load-shedding challenges. The conclusion of these promotional offers led to the removal of 311,000 non-revenue generating customers from DStv’s 90-day active subscriber base. These customers, previously benefiting from the “Surprise and Delight” promotions, constituted 3% of the overall 5% decline.
The broader active customer base, encompassing subscribers with valid packages on September 30, 2023, also experienced a decline of 382,000 customers, dropping from 8.204 million to 7.822 million.
Load-shedding, a recurring woe in South Africa, was another prominent factor cited by Multi Choice for the subscriber downturn. The unpredictability and inconvenience caused by power outages have increasingly become a significant factor influencing viewers’ choices.
Despite the gloomy subscriber statistics, some segments showed relative stability. DStv noted “more stable” trends in its mid and upper customer segments, with average price increases of around 4%, limiting the decline in monthly average revenue per user to 2%.
DStv divides its subscriber base into three main categories:
Premium: Premium and Compact Plus packages.
Mid-market: Compact and Commercial packages.
Mass market: Family, Access, and Easy View packages.
Interestingly, the Premium segment, which has been on a decline in recent years, recorded a 5% increase in subscribers. However, the exact number of Premium subscribers gained remains unclear due to rounding in Multi Choice’s reporting. The mid-market segment experienced a notable drop, with subscribers declining by 14% from 2.7 million to 2.3 million. In the mass market, DStv saw a 1% decline in subscribers.
In a surprising turn, Multi Choice reported a 5% increase in the Premium segment, suggesting a possible temporary boost driven by sign-ups for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. However, the exact number of gained Premium subscribers remains ambiguous.
While Multi Choice experienced setbacks in its South African market, it managed to increase its 90-day active subscriber base by 70,000 in the Rest of Africa. Nevertheless, the subscriber base measured on September 30, 2023, across the Rest of Africa declined by 25,000 customers, dropping from 8.906 million to 8.881 million.
Overall, DStv’s subscribers across all markets dropped from 17.110 million to 16.703 million, marking a substantial setback for the pay-TV broadcaster. Additionally, DStv’s blended ARPU also witnessed a 3% decline, falling from R235 to R229.
The graphic below shows how DStv’s subscriber base trends in its the Rest of Africa markets changed from its H1 FY 2022 to H1 FY 2023 results.
As DStv grapples with this significant loss, the decline in traditional TV services and the rise of streaming platforms continue to reshape the television landscape in South Africa. The company faces the challenging task of adapting to evolving viewer preferences and finding innovative ways to regain its diminishing subscriber base.