Multichoice has been learning from Nigeria’s billionaires, because it wants a government sanctioned monopoly in SA


The war between cable and streaming services isn’t new. Before then, though, remember how cable platforms disrupted the monopoly enjoyed by broadcast television? TV has become increasingly fickle over the past decade, rapidly evolving to ease the entry of new players.

Take American streaming giant Netflix, which upended how we watched television and threatened the cable era. And to compete, cable channels like CBS and HBO created their streaming outlets CBS All Access and HBO Now respectively. But Netflix is too much of a megalith – a fierce, unchanging avatar of streaming with financial heft.

Since Netflix expanded worldwide in 2016, Nigerians have been handed access to Netflix’s infinite library of original series and movies. The platform is readily an alternative to the South African cable infrastructure DStv, which has enjoyed a long-running monopoly along with a reputation for tinkering with the prices of subscription packages.

Not to mention poor service. Earlier in the week, the DStv parent company MultiChoice announced changes in subscription rates, which was met by a backlash. As a DStv subscriber myself, who is addicted to a specific diet of DStv programming, I’m rather afflicted with a choicelessness.

But I have derived a sadistic joy in reading recent reports about MultiChoice, under the helm of CEO Calvo Mawela, lobbying to have Netflix regulated in South Africa. To know that MultiChoice is shaking in their boots due to the takeover of Netflix makes me want to cackle. Which is why the company initially scampered to create its own streaming service ShowMax, which I find decent but limited in content. And DStvNow, which I installed on my device but had to uninstall because of its technical issues.

Mawela claimed that DStv has lost more than 100,000 subscribers since Netflix became a disruptive force, and in a recent interview with South Africa’s Business Day Newspaper, he called on regulators to clamp down on Netflix and other over-the-top services.

Considering how MultiChoice still has a deep-rooted reach in Nigeria, its powers are only confined to the economics of DStv and not Netflix, though this might spur MultiChoice Nigeria to go all anti-Netflix if its DStv subscription numbers experiences a serious haemorrhage.

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