Weekend Read: Goodbye DStv… but Kwese has no Dual View.

I don’t watch too much TV. When I do want to watch it though, it’s mainly movies and lite stuff, including a bit of sport here and there. During the holidays, however, I like to get down to some bad parenting and get my kids to watch a bit of cartoons; some Disney and Nickelodeon while I do important stuff like blogging.  As a result, I would subscribe to the basic DSTV bouquets which turned out to be such a disappointment. I will be honest and point out that I don’t mind a few repeats in programming, I mean who doesn’t? In fact, at times it allows me to bond with the kids and “Catch up” whats going on in their infantry battalion. For more than a year, possibly two or so, however, we have been watching so many repeats with the kids we can practically sing along to every Sophia, and dance along to every Mickey and the Clubhouse so much so it has become so monotonous and the kids have no more love.

Now there is no problem with a service provider stratifying their range and pushing customers towards the premium offerings to get more revenue. The disgusting bit for me is that we as the lower percentile are not being allowed to enjoy the little that we have paid for so that we move up the ladder. That would not be a problem if we could, first of all, afford it and secondly afford an extra 25% at least to get the precious USD from the streets… illegally too if that’s important to point out. I would also have a little more patience if I had not discovered in the Kwese versus Government saga that in fact, the government has a substantial stake in Multichoice and yet they cannot mechanize to allow for payment in local currency. Honestly how duplicitous and hypocritical can one get and still manage to get away with it. On one hand, they are shouting about the siphoning of foreign currency from the countries while they (the government) are at the fore of the very same act. Anyone know whatever happened to the James Majatame legal challenge compelling Skynet PL (DStv Multichoice) and Government by extension, to accept local payment channels using Statutory Instrument 133 of 2016? I would dare to say it is unpatriotic to watch DStv at all if I was not afraid of the backlash from the usual we-can-do-what-we-like-because-we-have-the-USD snobs. Needless to say in half a year Zimbabwe lost over USD206 million paying for satellite television, the second highest motivator of Nostro payments after Fuel according to the 2017 Monetary Policy statement.

Should I insist and persist on watching DStv, I would need to upgrade to a medium to premium package such as the Compact and have the full range of 11 kids channels but then again I do not want 11 channels, I just want value out of the 3 I choose. After all, I said bad parenting not total neglect of my children. So basically I had written off DSTv and resorted to what the average high-density surbaban turns to, you guessed it; two-a-dollar DVDs at the corner tuck shop, pana Ras. This is despite the fact that I had already bought an Explora2 which is still sitting in its box from the time when I figured I would experiment with Box Office.

In comes Kwese 

You can imagine my excitement when Kwese Tv announced they were coming home and the furor that gripped Zimbabwe when they were forced to temporarily shut down a few days later before resurfacing in a marriage of convenience with Dr Dish. Finally, I would have an alternative that has the simplest payment method and that does not discriminate on what to watch depending on affordability. After all, everyone should be able to buy a car. Whether or not one can afford the fuel is another case altogether. Come to think of it one gets this Dambudzo Marechera impish thought to analogy DStv bouquets to primitive and pre-Independence segregation of black and white classes, where some privileges were only reserved for whites who at the time had the race entitlement of superiority.

I must stress unequivocally at this point that I am not an Econite (lover of Econet or Strive Masiyiwa fan) and have never really found inspiration from the Strive’s Long Walk to Freedom political “draft ruckus” from back in the day. Let me digress and confess that I belong to a generation of young people who feel they have no space to operate in, because the older generation has basically claimed everything, consumed everything and are refusing to evolve or equip predecessors to take over from their lethargic revolutionary mind-set.

Like me, these millennials have an inbuilt mechanism to immediately shut down when we hear the word entitlement or politics because from 1980, all we have known and subsequently accustomed to is our fathers’ dictates, which have unfortunately eroded every good we have ever glimpsed or been told of. Bringing this back into this context, I have never really been enticed into fully and intimately appreciating the Strive story beyond understanding or having the perception that again he has some form of entitlement having “fought the (his) war” and this gives him some extra-ordinary rights. Perhaps if they make a movie out of it… The African Entrepreneur’s Dream. Given, the man has accomplished much and we cannot take that away from him… I digress.

I was very relieved by the way Kwese TV pushed to have the unfair blockage of their satellite television retracted by BAZ… several times, reminiscent of Econet licensing from back in the day. My elation was simply because:

  • I don’t fancy DStv’s economic bouquet
  • DStv will be forced to up their game and I won’t have to shift anyway
  • I can switch to Kwese and get way more value for my money than DStv
  • I can have that liberty, to choose what I, the consumer want
  • Clearly, Kwese is bringing in a few technological extras that are consistent with my tech-savvy expectations beyond DStv Now.

Like all products, I prefer to use the advantages at my disposal to sample them thoroughly; such as the company’s new iPhones. I don’t fancy the idea of purchasing a gadget on Friday, testing it and donating it to the less privileged on Monday because it fell short of desired expectations. As it turns out in interactions with a business colleague, I didn’t have to go through the routine.

Her business owns up to six television sets and has three DStv dual view accounts. This is a headache on its own as each month he has to scrounge around for, and fund relatives’ bank accounts that are able to pay for DStv. Switching to Kwese would be ideal for him as he can simply pay and subscribe via Ecocash. This would have been a perfect situation except that on trying to apply, he was advised Kwese does not have multiple accounts per decoder setup, nor does it have multiple decoders per dish setup. Simply put, for the 6 television sets, he will need 6 decoder and dish sets. What a bummer!

Why is Kwese not thinking of Dual-View?

Simply put, it is an outdated model. Obviously, Kwese has done their homework and decided their product at this stage was sufficiently packaged to satisfy their business case. It is also true however that whilst one has to struggle to get the USD to pay for two compact dual-view accounts for $36, it becomes expensive to pay for two Kwese accounts amounting to $60, via whatever transaction means. Some of the reasons Kwese would rather have their one-man-one-vote setup include:

  • They have a very a comfortable numerous devices per account setup that promotes the use of broadband, thus increasing their Liquid cousin business.
  • There is clearly more revenue per user in one dish per decoder setup
  • They are at this stage concentrating on the households with little to no bureaucracy and low switching costs. After all, these are the same consumers frustrated by DStv
  • They have enough leverage from the ease of payment wildcard that they can afford to offer a “rigid” product

That said, I still insist that Kwese is missing out on the committed business accounts, the type that make sure there is always something to watch in the lobby as you wait in the queue. They are missing out on the numerous Sports Clubs and beer spots around the country offering the Thursday night match as a plus for patrons.

Like all products market and time will determine how much of a success it really is beyond any promotional façade or unsustainable subsidy. Meanwhile, while I compare the two and hope for a change in this new dispensation, I will continue to promote local businesses starting with Ras patuckshop. I hear the Black Panther is now out.


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