Monday, April 1, 2024

MultiChoice: GinX gone from DStv with WildEarth set to follow.

by Thinus Ferreira

GinX eSports TV is gone on MultiChoice's DStv as the 9th TV channel that has disappeared from the traditional pay-TV operator's channel line-up since the start of this year, with the struggling WildEarth set to likely shutter at the end of this month as the 10th channel leaving the platform.

Since 1 April with MultiChoice's latest price increase that came into effect from this month, DStv subscribers are paying more than ever for the service as global rivals like streaming services in the form of Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video proliferate.

GinxX eSports TV which resided on channel 127 is gone from DStv since midnight of 31 March, seven years after it was added in May 2017 as a stand-alone linear TV channel when MultiChoice said that "The deal with GinX is a massive leap forward ".

GinX eSports TV, a channel produced in the United Kingdom, ended as a linear TV channel in July last year and left Sky's traditional pay-TV service to continue as a streaming channel only. 

The move is similar to many overseas studios and channel distributors now no longer investing in their traditional, linear pay-TV channels that are struggling with a lack of new content, as budgets are funnelled towards the production of making content for their streaming services. 

MultiChoice didn't respond to a media query from TVwithThinus about GinX's impending demise made mid-March. 

So far this year DStv subscribers have lost access to Deutsche WelleEmmanuel TVB4U Movies1Free State TVNWTV, People's Weather, as well as the 1Magic and ME channels.

The 1Magic and Me channels will soon be replaced with the 1Max TV channel that will carry and showcase a collection of Showmax content as a linear windowing channel for MultiChoice's relaunched Showmax video streaming service that is now run in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal's Sky on the Peacock platform.

Next to disappear from DStv will be WildEarth (DStv 183), with the channel's operators that warned MultiChoice it will be pulling WildEarth from DStv at the end of April in a nasty channel carriage fight.

WildEarth was originally added in August 2020 as a temporary pop-up channel but was then kept on DStv over the past three years.

Although WildEarth, that currently employs 72 people to run the channel, originally entered into a contract with MultiChoice whereby WildEarth would not be getting paid by MultiChoice for carriage on the DStv platform, it got the space to raise viewership with DStv subscribers and through that get possible advertising revenue and sponsorships.

WildEarth chairman AndrĂ© Crawford-Brunt, slammed MultiChoice in an interview with BizNews last week, claiming that MultiChoice doesn't support local content financially.

Crawford-Brunt said "I made the call that if they weren't prepared to pay us, we needed to come off DStv. It was just too easy to keep providing something to them for free".

He said WildEarth is getting "binned by a big corporate because someone sitting in an ivory tower or sitting in an office in London can make a decision that this doesn't fit the short-term goals and needs of a big corporate".

MultiChoice's local content decisions and third-party acquisition strategy are made and managed from its MultiChoice City headquarters in Randburg, Johannesburg.

Although slamming MultiChoice and South Africa's TV ratings system TAMS which measures the number of TV viewership watching television, Crawford-Brunt noted that "it would have been our preference to stay on MultiChoice".

He said South Africa's TV ratings system "is as archaic as the dinosaur age where there are a number of set-top boxes that exist in a certain number of homes and obviously being a niche channel they try to extrapolate that data from I think 1 400 homes - they extrapolate what the audience is for advertising purposes".

"This is so backward when you consider that 25% of the day is load-shedding, the sample size is so small for a niche channel and they've never done any granular work around the type of dedicated audience that you get on an outdoor or wildlife channel."

According to Crawford-Brunt, MultiChoice "got away with paying us nothing for three odd years. After applying a huge amount of pressure they then agreed to come through with a notional amount of R6 million a year".

"They hope we're just going to go away. I've told them we're going to take it off DStv because we can't afford to be on DStv and not get rewarded in some way." 

He said DStv subscribers "who are paying subscribers to MultiChoice are feeling particularly aggrieved that there's potential that they lose out and that will obviously lead to attrition of more viewers - whether they care or not. You would hope they would care but they're in the middle of a merger."

MultiChoice hasn't responded to a media query about WildEarth made last week by TVwithThinus.