MultiChoice will increase the monthly cost of its various DStv bouquets from April with the satellite pay-TV platform's most expensive offering, DStv Premium, set to rise from R625 to R665, but with no increase and change to its two cheapest bouquets, DStv Access and DStv EasyView.
MultiChoice didn't make an announcement to press but posted the annual price increase to DStv subscribers which will come into effect from 1 April on its website over the weekend.
MultiChoice says that while the company wants to offer DStv subscribers affordable digital entertainment "we have to make sure our business can survive well into the future".
The satellite pay-TV operator, in response to DStv subscribers wondering why they can just pick and choose TV channels and pay for those, says that it will not cost subscribers cheaper.
"We understand that you feel you'd save more money if you could choose only the channels you want to watch. Unfortunately this is not the case. It's actually more cost effective to structure channels into packages".
"Choosing your own package with your own channel selection would mean you'd end up paying more than you are now (and for just a few channels). That's why we offer a range of packages with different fees and channel combinations – to cater for the viewing choice and pocket of a wide range of customers".
From April DStv Premium is set to increase from R625 to R665, DStv Extra will go from R380 to R399, DStv Compact will increase from R275 to R295, and the DStv Family and DStv Select bouquets are both going from R175 to R185.
M-Net subscribers will see a monthly increase of R300 to R315; the M-Net/CSN analogue channel offering interestingly costing more than some DStv bouquets and worth half as much as the most expensive bouquet.
Despite the increase, the pay-TV and satellite TV sector in the country continues to show strong growth as TV viewers shun the troubled South African public broadcaster with a mounted satellite dish - from the most affluent gated communities to the most rural dwelling - which is regarded as an aspiring status symbol in South Africa.
While consumers are re-evaluating what they're doing when it comes to discresionary spending, it has become clear that existing pay-TV subscribers are keeping their monthly pay-TV subscriptions despite tougher economic circumstances the past three years.
Although On Digital Media (ODM) has seen a decline in StarSat subscribers to between 100 000 and 120 000 subscribers, MultiChoice's DStv keeps growing and added 531 000 subscribers over the last year to 4,69 million South African subscribers.
The Sabido-owned Platco Digital also launched its OpenView HD (OVHD) satellite television offering late in 2013 which is also showing growth. Viewers pay around R1 600 once-off for a decoder and satellite dish installation and then get to watch 20 TV channels for free with more channels coming this year.
The independent South African broadcasting expert and researcher Kate Skinner tells TV with Thinus that pay-TV in South Africa continues to grow because "people are desperate for good content and they are prepared to spend money to get it".
"It is depressing that the free-to-air offerings are no longer seen as attractive. It is an indication that the SABC is not offering sufficiently interesting and attractive content".
"Overall you don't want a situation where only poor people are left watching free-to-air and public broadcasting because what that will mean is that we will start to develop a two-tier broadcasting system in our country where everyone who can afford pay-TV goes for that option, and only poor people are left with the rest," says Kate Skinner.
"All the resources and good programming will then be concentrated in the pay-TV market. In a country with the development challenges that we have, we need everyone to receive a great selection of TV programming - particularly news and current affairs and educational programming".
"If you are a middle class person with good broadband connectivity you will have content available on the internet, however if you are poorer you won't have many options," says Kate Skinner.