Living costs constantly rising and consumers are constantly assessing their
decisions with the aim to get the best possible value out of every cent they
spend. Television entertainment is one of the areas, which due to massive
shifts in the industry is currently under review. What consumers are
looking for is convenience, cost and content that they love – and in this
regard it is not an easy balance to find and is very dependent on whether
they are a sports lover, series binge watcher, new movie fanatic or local
It is hardly surprising Namibians are re-evaluating their entertainment
needs with all the hype around online streaming entertainment services in
Africa like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play Movies & TV. Many
are considering these as alternatives to pay television – so it is good to
evaluate the differences against a set of criteria such as convenience and
cost as well as against your personal viewing preferences.
The pros of streaming your video entertainment
For a start, there are no installation fees or equipment to buy upfront. You
simply need access to bandwidth (data) and a mobile device or computer or
laptop in order to plug in and play.
The speed of your download and associated cost will be dependent on what
Internet package you have in your home or what data package you have from
your mobile operator. Most individual streaming services are seen as being
relatively affordable, given that fees come in somewhere around US$20
(N$288) per month for a single, standalone product.
Getting access to content, you want:
The next decision is what you want to see – is it live sport, local content,
series or block buster movies which have just been released?
Streaming services such as Netflix are more likely to have slightly older
catalogue of series and movies in their video libraries than DStv or GOtv,
as service providers like MultiChoice negotiate and pay huge fees to obtain
the rights to broadcast the latest TV shows from the big Hollywood studios
and the hottest blockbuster movies.
To be honest, where the streaming services just do not measure up this area.
Netflix is still running the first and second seasons of some big-ticket
shows that are already on season five on pay-tv, and its movie schedule –
outside of Netflix Originals – is not the most current. Therefore, if
old-school movies are what you are after, then streaming movies will
probably suit you just fine.
However, if it were not for DStv, we would have completely missed absolute
must-sees like Game of Thrones and the year’s most highly anticipated
returning drama, Big Little Lies, which premiered on 22 February this year.
It’s all about the sports
However, if it is sport you are looking for – and we know most Namibians
love their sport – then the bad news is that there is no sport offering on
Netflix or Amazon as the world’s biggest sporting events are on live
broadcast services such as NBC, DStv or GOtv. This year’s sporting events
are among the biggest in the world – like the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019,
which is currently taking place in England and Wales, the 2019 Africa Cup of
Nations, which kicked off on 21 June, and the 2019 Rugby World Cup,
scheduled to start in Japan in September.
No streaming service – not even the new mobile ones – is ever going to
compete with the live and highlights coverage, blow-by-blow analyses, and
dedicated pop-up channels with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage that
MultiChoice’ s SuperSport channels offer up.
For DStv subscribers, viewers can also watch SuperSport where they can live
stream (or download to watch later) up to 11 SuperSport channels, including
SuperSport 1, SuperSport 2 and SuperSport 3. Looking at it that way, I
think sports fans would be hard-pressed to find the same calibre sports
action and extent of sports coverage on any other streaming or satellite TV
The hidden costs
Unlike satellite or DTT providers, the customers carry the cost of
delivering the online or streaming content. Therefore, when calculating the
cost of your entertainment one needs to build in the internet or mobile data
Local development and investing in Namibians
The streaming model does not need to rely on people on the ground to make
its product work or provide support unlike MultiChoice Namibia, which
employs around 160 Namibians to keep all this content on our screens. That’s
a much needed direct investment of N$ 58 million into our national economy!
Furthermore, MultiChoice Namibia’s multiplier effect extends to employment
creation of its 13 agents, 120 accredited installers and third party payment
vendors including Airtime City, Mobipay and Tusk.
The best value for money
So, to recap – international streaming service providers like Netflix is not
regulated and do not restrict viewing for younger viewers, do not employ
local people, and do not contribute towards our economy. ‘But that has
little to do with the value for money TV entertainment we’re all after,’ I
hear you shout.
Yes, that is true, so let us break it down and see how Netflix compares to
rival DStv in terms of that value for money we are all so desperately
seeking. Netflix is going to cost you US$16 (N$230) plus your data – which
would cost around N$ 999, totalling N$1229. For that, you get access to a
frequently updated library of TV series and movies, available to watch on
your TV, online on your PC, or to watch live on or download to a device
DStv currently offers five packages, where you can choose the one that best
suits your viewing needs and budget*. These range from the budget-friendly
DStv Access with 45 channels for just N$125 to the full bells and whistles
DStv Premium, which provides 125 TV and 31 audio channels for N$809.
The downside to streaming
Long-play video streaming relies on fast, high quality internet to work. The
cost and accessibility of that in Namibia is prohibitive, leaving many TV
viewers out in the cold.
You may also require more than one streaming service to meet your viewing
requirements, so Disney, Netflix and Amazon. One subscription may only cost
around N$230, but multiply that by four and you could be looking at in
excess of N$900. That’s more than the top DStv subscription, which covers
all the very latest studio series and movies, all SuperSport channels, local
news and current affairs, and true local content, like The 3rd Will on
Zambezi Magic, Die Spreeus and Maak My Famous on kykNET, and Huisgenoot Ware
Lewens Dramas and Minki on VIA.
While on the surface, looking at price alone, streaming services appear to
offer a competitive product, the truth is they do not offer a comparative
one. Pay television still offers so much more than streaming does, so
comparing these services based on price and not merit is completely
ineffective. NDN STAFFER