The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has published its draft findings report on Subscription Television Broadcasting Services in the country.
While much of the report is largely unsurprising, one particular comment might rub a few
The report, which is almost 200 pages long, features
comments from some of the country’s biggest names in media, including
MultiChoice, DStv’s parent company.
The report says that DStv has seen plenty of competition
from services like Netflix, but it also raised concerns over the rise of
piracy. The report noted that
MultiChoice views piracy as a “competitive constraint”.
The report quoted MultiChoice as saying:
“The piracy of electronic audio-visual content is on the rise and posing a huge threat to traditional Pay TV services.
“For example, MultiChoice estimates that more than two million people view pirated versions of the series and movies available on DStv in South Africa.”
Sport is a popular option for pirates
While countries like the United Kingdom have seen competition for the rights to some of the world’s biggest sports, DStv largely holds the monopoly to sporting rights in South Africa.
And fans have to fork out a hefty premium if they want to watch all of it. For the full whack, consumers have to pay R809, with an additional R95 if you want access to PVR services.
But competition doesn’t always mean better.
In the UK, sporting rights are shared between a selection of free-to-air channels like BBC and Channel 4 and pay services like Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Prices range from R800 per month for BT Sport to over R1000 for some Sky Sports packages.
The problem for many consumers in the UK is that that Premier League rights are shared and those who want to watch both the EPL and the Champions League have to fork out for both services.
However, some of the paid options offer day or month passes with a focus on mobile and digital offerings. Sky Sports also allows consumers to choose which channels they want to subscribe to.
The BBC also retains the rights to some of the popular tournaments across all sports.
With so many options to consider, it’s hardly a surprise that sport is pirated more than anything else. MultiChoice further said in the report:
“Piracy in sports is also pervasive. The reality is that piracy is a further competitive constraint on Pay TV services in South Africa.”
But Icasa doesn’t completely agree
As part of the report, Icasa gives its own analysis of the
situation. Icasa similarly noted that the fight for sporting rights is a big
battle across the world. The report noted:
“The authority considered the advent of piracy and whether it constrains subscription broadcasting as claimed by MultiChoice,” it said.
“It came to the conclusion that since there are various efforts to stem the tide of piracy not only in South Africa but globally, it does not offer a strong competitive constraint on subscription television.”
The report is still in its draft stages, following a
consultation process that began in 2016. Comments will now be solicited from
stakeholders before the final report is published and Icasa embarks on a regulation