Thursday, February 18, 2021

'Fleeced' loyal legacy M-Net subscribers angry at MultiChoice's shocking 11.49% price hike for M-Net GOtv from April 2021: 'This increase in these Covid-19 times is outrageous'.

by Thinus Ferreira 

MultiChoice has shocked decades-long loyal M-Net viewers who are upset and confused after they're getting hit with an 11.49% annual increase from April 2021 that will see their monthly DStv bill skyrocket from R435 to R485 per month.

MultiChoice confirmed its annual DStv price hike for 2021 last week. 

In the numbers of its 2021 DStv price increase that it released to the media MultiChoice excluded any mention of the steep hike that legacy M-Net subscribers - who still exist and who pay their monthy subscription fees - will have to fork out from April.

M-Net subscribers and their 11.49% subscription fee shock come after Simon Camerer, MultiChoice Group chief operating officer (COO), said that MultiChoice is doing 2021 price increases below inflation and that "on a weighted average basis, you're looking at a 2.4% increase".

It's unclear if MultiChoice's 11.49% price hike for legacy M-Net subscribers is part of the price increase basket that MultiChoice used to calculate the 2.4% weighted average increase.

A few years ago legacy M-Net analogue TV viewers and subscribers were folded into the wider MultiChoice pay-TV system. 

At the time, as part of South Africa's digital TV migration process and switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT), their analogue M-Net decoders and M-Net subscription got replaced by an M-Net GOtv subscription.

New and current DStv subscribers can no longer subscribe to this M-Net GOtv package but original M-Net subscribers who were migrated during DStv's DTT switch were and are allowed to keep it if they don't cancel outright or change to an existing DStv package. 

These viewers, mostly older subscribers, still get just the M-Net channel, stacked with its premium HBO, Showtime and leading Hollywood studios content, and a so-called "community channel" that is essentially a SuperSport channel.

This customised SuperSport channel version is a repackaged with specifically rugby and cricket content as the main focus.

These legacy M-Net subscribers, now hit with an 11% increase, are regarded as being MultiChoice's most loyal subscribers.

They are pay-TV viewers who started watching and supporting M-Net with their money decades ago and who decided to stick with the specific brand when it was still a small Randburg-based company while the revenue derived from their subscription fees fuelled the ongoing evolution of the wider MultiChoice Group into what it is today.

'Why singled out to carry the heaviese increase burden?'
"I am disgusted by the attitude MultiChoice and M-Net has to its loyal customers, wanting to fleece them in these dreadful economic times," says Jenny Berk who together with her mom Jill have been legacy M-Net subscribers in South Africa for decades.

Jenny and her mom are part of the existing group of pay-TV consumers that MultiChoice switched a few years ago to become M-Net GOtv subscribers.

"An increase similar to the consumer price index (CPI) is fine - but 10% in these Covid-19 times is outrageous," says Jenny. 

"I suspect that this is a not so subtle attempt to force us into another package."

"However, they ignore the fact that people on these kinds of packages have been customers of theirs for a substantial amount of time - more than 30 years in our case."

"The increase of more than 10% is way more than that given to other subscribers. Why would that be? Why should we be singled out to carry the heaviest increase burden?"

Last week and again this week TVwithThinus asked Benedict Maaga, MultiChoice's senior manager for corporate communications; Sbu Mpungose, MultiChoice's senior manager for PR and brand engagement; as well as Aprio the PR company used by MultiChoice, all for comment on the issue and why M-Net GOtv subscribers are getting a 11.49% increase in 2021.

By the time of publication of this article there was no response to the media enquiry.

MultiChoice's webpage for GOtv South Africa is broken with parts that doesn't work.

Last week TVwithThinus also asked MultiChoice, and again this week, if it is possible to talk to Simon Camerer about DStv's latest price increases after he did interviews with three media outlets about the price increase and in those interviews said that MultiChoice is doing its 2021 price increases below inflation.