How DStv is fighting online piracy

DStv Online CEO John Kotsaftis says quality, convenience, price and availability are the key ingredients in convincing consumers to pay for content. By Duncan McLeod.


Broadcasting the latest television shows in South Africa soon after they have been aired in their home markets, and tying this to an affordable and convenient viewing experience, will go a long way in countering the growing threat posed by online piracy.

That’s the view of John Kotsaftis, who heads DStv Online, the MultiChoice-owned business that develops the DStv BoxOffice and DStv On Demand services.

He says if content suppliers don’t make it easy for broadcasters to make their content available timeously and easily to their customers, then consumers will “find a way of doing it themselves”.

“If you give someone a product that is easy to use at the right price and with minimum fuss and at high quality, then they will pay for it.”

Kotsaftis says the content industry, including the big Hollywood studios, were fortunate in that they had a chance to study the impact of the Internet on the music industry and find ways of reacting before they were engulfed by it.

The studios are reacting by making their content available to broadcasters much earlier than before. So, in the case of series such as the BBC’s Top Gear, the shows are aired in South Africa just weeks — and sometimes even just days — after they are broadcast in their home markets.

“The studios used to give us their content in a later window,” Kotsaftis says. “We are now moving closer and closer to the release date in the US.”

John Kotsaftis

John Kotsaftis

He adds that MultiChoice has also pressured its suppliers to release content earlier to offset the threat posed by online piracy where consumers are able to download the latest shows on peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent within hours of them being broadcast for the first time internationally.

“If a movie comes out on BoxOffice on the same day as the DVD is released and it costs R25, why pirate it? Convenience, quality and price all play a role in this thing,” Kotsaftis says. “If you make it easy for people, they will choose the path that is easiest and most convenient.”

Already, MultiChoice is renting out 400 000 movies a month to DStv subscribers who have the necessary personal video recorder (PVR) decoders to receive the BoxOffice service. Kotsaftis attributes this number to the relative simplicity of using the service. “You literally send one SMS and you’ve rented a movie,” he says.

On the Internet, the company offers a larger volume of content because it isn’t constrained by the storage limitations of the PVR. Here, it charges subscribers R25/movie and non-subscribers pay R30. Older movies cost R10 each. Uptake has been “quite low”, a function, Kotsaftis says, of the relatively small broadband user base in South Africa and the fact that MultiChoice hasn’t actively marketed the product yet.

He adds that the company is taking a “mobile first” approach to delivering content online, hoping to capture the youth market that may not pay for a subscription-TV service. “I’m talking about youngsters walking around with hard drives full of content. They might not go to pay TV, but I don’t want to lose them as customers,” he says. “If they’d prefer to consume on a tablet and they don’t want a full pay-TV package, they should still be able to get something from us.”  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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  • ernie

    That said , the content of Dstv & the choice of packages are still far from being satisfactory

  • Skye Ariel Renauld

    The day we get same-day release dates as the US and MUCH cheaper cost I will consider actually paying for my media. R25 a movie? Thats a solid joke, I would rather wait a couple hours for a movie I can not only get for free but share freely and watch whenever I want on any device I want for as may times as I want.

    Give us a Netflix like service and a real internet connection at a realistic price.

  • BS-Baffles-B

    DSTV sucks BIG-time. . .glad I stopped using them about a year ago – no regrets.

  • Pierre Scholtz

    DSTV is hopeless…. go find another country to con

  • John Mitchell

    Why would I get DSTV when I can have everything on my uncapped line?

    When I saw that Naspers wanted to thwart piracy, I was thinking that they should go about it in the correct way. That or face serious backlash from their customers. I’m glad to see them take this approach.

    Don’t get me wrong though… my question is this: Now that we have all tasted the “all you can eat” of bittorrent’d media, why would we go back to paying R25/movie and having to wait?

    Even if it’s only a few days as opposed to the months that it used to be, this would be a step back for pirates.

  • syhehzh

    Duncan McLeod… highlander

  • Greg Hay

    You can pay for unlimited access from Netflix using an america or Canadian proxy with an uncapped ADSL. Dstv needs to be more convenient than that.

  • Hugo Schagen

    I agree with ernie. Take DSTV compact for example. It has channel 203 for R260 that caters for the soccer majority. They don’t have to pay the Premium price of R625 (no PVR) as of 1 April!. Why can’t we have the CHOICE of 201, 202 or 203 for that package? Nope, if you want to watch Rugby or Cricket, YOU HAVE TO PAY!!! Soccer is even on ETV? WTH!!!

  • AG

    The only chance DSTV has of surviving in the near future is keeping the people who still use DSTV. Once you go the broadband route you will never go back to DSTV. I do not even bother with torrents anymore, there are great streaming sites now, just google free-tv-video-online and if DSTV can match this then they have a chance. You can even find live sport streaming sites for all the big games. But they have no chance with the price they are charging for DSTV. I will never go back to it again even if it were R10 / month as the broadband way is so much better.

  • Hiraishin

    The way dstv is going about doing their things…. It feels like they’re promoting online piracy as appose to fighting it.

  • Dogstar

    Good luck DSTV.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Definitely a good start, and the right way to do things. I feel DSTV is still too expensive, but making more content available to consumers earlier – whatever the medium – has been shown to reduce piracy. Now we just need some unbundling so I can get all those stupid sport channels out of my bouquet :)

  • Andrew Fraser

    DStv is not fighting piracy. They’re protecting their own income. Not the same thing.

    Reduced windows and earlier transmission of US content makes their offering more valuable, but has little impact on piracy.

  • MarkyMark

    And overpriced.

  • Guest

    I don’t see anything they offer that can compete with my current 720p/1080p rips. What exactly is the incentive to use them? If I can already watch Netflix or Hulu for about R100 p/m then why? Yesteryear is long gone, get with time times and offer something worthwhile! Who the hell wants boxoffice sub-SD at ludicrous pricing?

  • Prophet

    I don’t see anything they offer that can compete with my current 720p/1080p rips. What exactly is the incentive to use them? If I can already watch Netflix / Hulu for about R100 p/m then why? Yesteryear is long gone, get with time times and offer something worthwhile! Who the hell wants boxoffice sub-SD at ludicrous pricing?

  • That Tall Twit

    Would be nice if someone could pick which channels that they would like to have in their package & pay a fee per each one.

  • Ivanovich1

    That’s exactly what I suggested to the so-called Consultant at Multichoice and got a letter back from some Underling at their Head Office telling me that is Impossible!

  • Ivanovich1

    Me Too!!

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