MultiChoice Shouts for Netflix to be regulated, Blames itself for not innovating

A message Netflix gave Verizon home Internet customers during a money dispute in 2014.

Pay-TV operator MultiChoice lost more than 100,000 premium subscribers in the previous financial year. CEO Calvo Mawela attributed this loss of business to unregulated competition from video-streaming company Netflix, saying it had an unfair advantage as it was not under any regulatory pressure in SA.

The pay-TV operator that continues to bleed subscribers, is fighting tooth and nail to remain relevant amid tough competition from online streaming services. However, MultiChoice, which owns DStv, said it was aware that failure to adapt its business model could make it a victim of digital disruption.

Calvo Mawela. Picture: SUPPLED
MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawel Courtesy

Mawela said MultiChoice was cognisant of the fact that viewer habits had changed, with people wanting to watch more content online.

He said that while traditional satellite broadcasting still appealed to a significant number of subscribers, the company was actively looking to capture the online audience.

It had therefore introduced new platforms, such as DStv Now, an online streaming service that allows subscribers to access DStv content online. MultiChoice was hoping to soon launch 4K-streaming, a higher resolution high-definition (HD) format, for DStv Now.

The operator has also said it is exploring the possibility of offering a streaming-only package that would take on Netflix and other over-the-top players.

Mawela said over-the-top players such as Netflix should be subject to the same regulations as MultiChoice, adding that this was in the interests of the country. “As a country we have national objectives … if I was to be very narrow, I would say [to Icasa]: treat us like Netflix, so we do not have to pay tax or comply with black economic empowerment regulations.

“I am saying bring the likes of Netflix in the same net. Netflix does not employ even one person in this country, it doesn’t pay tax, they do not have to do any local content.”

Mawela said subjecting the likes of Netflix to the same regulations would allow the pay-TV operator to “compete toe to toe”. Read more


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