Monday, July 16, 2018

Which one is better or cheaper: DStv or Netflix? That's actually the wrong question to ask. Here's the real question to ask for yourself when it comes to paying for television content.

With a new "blue state/ red state" graphic with incorrect and incomplete information that started circulating on social media late last week asking people whether DStv or Netflix is cheaper, it is once again fueling the debate over which service is cheaper and better when it comes to paying for pay-TV - although that's actually the wrong question.

On the face of it, it looks as if Netflix South Africa is cheaper than MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service run by Naspers - but the graphic doesn't tell the whole story.

Better or cheaper are in fact also not the right questions to ask. Consumers with expendable income to pay for a subscription TV service should ask what it is that you want to watch and are interested in, what is it that you (and/or your family) want to see, and whether the price for the content you get is something you are personally willing to pay for.

Let's do a more accurate, impartial comparison, since the graphic left out the data and internet costs required to watch Netflix and that came to R3 960 for a 2-year subscription. The DStv side coming to R23 016 in turn included irrelevant stuff for a like-for-like comparison, although you can't really compare the two.

Here at TVwithThinus we watch, track and report about content on MultiChoice's DStv and Netflix South Africa equally, will continue to, and can't bear imagining not having access to or watching content on both. Both MultiChoice and Netflix South Africa have stuff, some good stuff, and some must-see stuff that you want to watch if you're a TV fanatic.

Now let's compare.

It's correct to keep the SABC TV licence fee of R265 per year added in to the DStv cost which must be paid annually according law for anyone with a TV set. It is correct that a SABC TV licence is not required to watch Netflix on your computer or a mobile device.

Let's dump DStv BoxOffice rentals that's an additional pay-for-play service.

The R959 per month for DStv Premium, MultiChoice's most expensive package is correct, as is Netflix South Africa's $11.99 per month for its most expensive offering (which at an exchange rate of $1 = R13.21 on Monday 16 July 2018 comes to R158.34 per month - Netflix still doesn't price its packages in rand).

Netflix South Africa requires data to work. Let's use Telkom's 10MBps ADSL package for your home on a 2-year contract, since 10MBps is the recommended download speed according to Netflix to watch 4K streaming content.

Electricity is of course needed for but lets leave that out of the comparison. Let's also assume you already have a TV set, and already have a device to watch Netflix on. Let's also assume that you already have a DStv decoder, although we'll also include a price option if you have to buy one.

DStv Premium
2-year subscription fee: R23 016
2-year SABC TV Licence: R530
[DStv HD decoder, installed]: R499
Total (without a DStv decoder): R23 546
Total (with a DStv decoder): R24 045

2-year subscription fee: $287.76 =  R3 795.32
2-year 10MBps/ADSL: R19 368
Total: R23 163.32

The winner is clear on price - but keep more in mind
So Netflix is the winner because it's cheaper, and depending on if you're able to find a better data package from whatever service provider, it can even be cheaper.

DStv Premium subscribers get free access to Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, but to use that you need data. The DStv Explora to record content also costs more and comes with an additional monthly charge, so neither of those were included in tabulating the cost.

Now, again, cheaper and better isn't actually the right question to ask or the (sole) comparison to do when you want to work out which one of these two are "better" for you. You need to start by asking what it is that you want from your viewing experience and what content you want to see.

Netflix is spending more than $8 billion on creating new content and by the end of this year will have around 700 original TV shows on its global video streaming service. Netflix has some great drama series, comedies, kids content, documentaries and films and are constantly adding more.

MultiChoice and M-Net however produce a large amount of local South Africa content for its M-Net, kykNET and Mzansi Magic channels that revolve around local stories that resonate with viewers. DStv also carried a number of linear TV news channels and SuperSport has a set of exclusive pay-TV licensing agreements for live sports coverage of major sporting tournaments. Netflix doesn't have any of these three things.

At the moment MultiChoice has more content than Netflix and from more diverse sources. This is both a plus and a minus depending on what you think you want. On the plus side you get access to a lot of localised and international linear TV channels like History, the Travel Channel, channels from the BBC and so on.

On the minus side, DStv subscribers who don't want ITV Choice, The Home Channel, Africa Magic, CBeebies or SuperSport's chanels are forced to pay for these bundled TV channels that they can't unselect, or just choose to pay for the channels they want.

What to do?
So what are you to do? Firstly, do your own research as a consumer and do your own homework. Whether you're an individual or a family looking for a viewing option, decide what is best for you and what works for your own personalised set-up.

Work out your own price point and research Netflix and DStv and see what content they offer and which one has more of the stuff you want and are willing to pay for.