Tuesday, September 19, 2017

THE SMALL PRINT. MultiChoice is giving DStv Premium subscribers free access to Showmax until the end of March 2019 - for now.

MultiChoice that last week announced the bundling of a free Showmax subscription for all DStv Premium subscribers won't remain a free value add-on forever: Showmax will remain a free fold-in service until the end of March 2019 - for now.

MultiChoice is not planning on making Showmax available on a free-use basis to lower-tiered bouquets besides DStv Premium.

Last week MultiChoice announced that all DStv Premium subscribers can now add Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service to their existing DStv subscription for no extra monthly charge.

DStv Premium subscribers are now able to access Showmax - a SVOD service costing R99 per month - through DStv Explora decoders, the DStv Now app, online and smart TV sets. (Here's the steps to take.)

Showmax carries a catalogue of 25 000 TV shows and films and DStv Premium subscribers can now use up to four mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the DStv Now app.

Interestingly DStv Premium subscribers accessing Showmax through DStv Explora decoders can't actually download shows - it can only be watched as "live" video streaming.

Reaction to the DStv Premium free Showmax link-up news was near-universally positive and is part of the tighter integration between Showmax and MultiChoice as the 2-year old SVOD service is folding its South African and African operations into the DStv Digital Media unit of MultiChoice.

One thing that DStv Premium subscribers have to keep in mind as they link their DStv Premium accounts and Showmax and shouldn't forget is that there's more important consumer information hidden in the small print: the Showmax add-on won't be a free included service forever.

While MultiChoice didn't specify it at all in last week's press release, the free Showmax offer for DStv Premium subscribers does actually come with an expiry date - a point at which DStv Premium subscribers will have to pay for it.

It could also be that when that time comes, MultiChoice might decide to extend the free use Showmax period, but that will only be known in 18 months' time.

In any case it would be prudent for DStv Premium subscribers who do link their DStv Premium and Showmax accounts to make use of the additional free service, to set a date reminder for March 2019 and to, when the time comes, check to then see if they will have to pay, or otherwise to delink or cancel Showmax in a year and a half's time from now if they don't want to continue with it.

In response to a media enquiry asking if Showmax will remain a free add-on service or if it will remain free for DStv Premium indefinitely, MultiChoice says it will remain free "for now until 31 March 2019".

Asked if Showmax will be made available to other DStv subscribers besides Premium bouquet customers, MultiChoice says that "including Showmax in the subscription at no extra charge is exclusively for our DStv Premium customers".