By Vanessa Papas
Are you obsessed with TV? Can’t get enough of your favourite shows, from original series like Stranger Things, The Walking Dead and Russian Doll to TV favourites like Sherlock, Doctor Who and Friends? Or are you more of a sports fanatic? Your small screen is probably the most used appliance in your home but the monthly costs of keeping it connected to the latest content can be a massive drain on your wallet. It’s tricky knowing which service you should invest in, and whether that investment will deliver on your entertainment expectations.
“Take a long hard look at what you really watch on a daily basis,” says Tanya Haffern, a success coach focusing on financial wellness. “Think about what you watch and why. Are there other places you could go to and watch? Or is it simply a habit and not a necessity? Do you use the TV as a companion, something to have on in the background while you are cooking or eating dinner? Do you download shows and watch them while commuting? Or do you have certain shows that you watch on certain days while during the others the TV is not even on? Once you understand your viewing habits, how do you choose which platform to go with when faced with all the tempting and flexible possibilities?”
Tanya says it’s important to consider the cost comparisons between the services, especially when on a budget. Let’s take a closer look at the services offered by DSTV, Showmax and Netflix:
Bang For Your Buck: Currently, the monthly subscription fee for DStv Premium is R809 (Showmax is now free on DStv Premium) and the subscription fee for DStv Easy is R29 per month. Add to this the Access Fee of R95 per month that subscribers must pay if they want to use a personal video recorder (PVR) decoder like the DStv Explora.
Netflix decided to switch to billing South African subscribers in rand instead of dollars from the end of August 2018 and this decreased the subscription fees. The Basic plan costs R99 per month, the Standard plan R139 per month, and the Premium plan R169 per month.
Like Netflix, Showmax is an online subscription video on demand (SVOD) service which launched in South Africa in 2015. Users can subscribe for R99 per month (unless you are a DSTv Premium member, as mentioned above).
Pros & Cons: Both Netflix and Showmax allow their users to stream television series and films on personal computers, or on a variety of supported platforms, including smartphones and tablets, digital media players, video game consoles and smart TVs. You can download shows in different quality settings to allow you to consume content offline. The Showmax catalogue consists of Hollywood, British, Kenyan and South African content. Outside of Africa the Showmax catalogue consists of kykNET International, M-Net and Via content targeted primarily at an Afrikaans-speaking audience. Showmax has content in seven official languages and has a more South African twist to it while offering some big international productions. If comedy and series are your thing, this is certainly a great option.
For The Love Of Movies: Netflix offers the perfect solution for you if you are addicted to series or love watching movies. They regularly update the selection and include fascinating documentaries on everything from wildlife to rock stars and all that’s in between. Netflix also allows for multiple users to use one account so if cost saving is a consideration for you, look no further.
Sport Fanatics: In a lot of homes the TV is only used on the weekends to watch sport. Now in order to cater for that requirement, DStv is required. Unfortunately, DStv do not offer a sport-only option. Many South Africans have decided DStv is way too expensive and cancelled their subscription, reasoning that they can go watch the important sports events somewhere else. After spending just one Sunday afternoon watching grand prix at your local pub, however, you may find that the amount spent on drinks and food is not far off the monthly subscription fee. So much for saving money!
Let Your Budget Guide You: Consider your viewing habits along with your budget and let that guide you. Make sure your choice supports your budget; viewing habits can be changed and, believe it or not, you won’t be ostracised if you don’t watch Game Of Thrones or can’t contribute to the discussion around the latest Beyoncé documentary at work. Do what makes sense for your budget and your life.
By Vanessa Papas