Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why DSTV sucks.

DSTV is the main satellite telly service provider (done by Multichoice) in Kenya, in fact Africa as a whole. They have different packages for different budgets. I started out with the Premium Bouquet which has just about 6 movie channels, a lot of filler channels (Hallmark, E, Style, Food Network, BBC sideshow programming), an incredibly extensive sports coverage network, documentary channels like National Geographic and Discovery and the major news networks such as BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. They also offer roughly 30 more foreign language channels which are extra ofcourse. All this for Kshs. 5,000.00 ($ 71.50) per month. Then for the budget conscious, there as a more affordable bouqet which only has one movie channel, some of the fillers, two documentary channels, three news channels and that's roughly Kshs. 1,700.00 ($24.30). Then there are some super family friendly channels which are not worth mentioning as they are religous and kids show oriented. Much cheaper obviously. Remember, most Kenyans live on $1 a day so this is obviously not a service targeted at the ordinary person.

Now Multichoice Kenya once had a focus group put together at the Norfolk over lunch, and they chose a selective few subscribers to give input on their services. I know for a fact that they invited (and probably rightfully so) the subscribers only and not viewers in their homes. They didn't realize that the subscriber probably works 15 hour days and doesn't have time to watch tv except for the news here and there. The true viewers are actually the maid and the kids on holiday (or those skipping school) who would have been better equipped to advice them on their programming.

I recently switched from the Premium to Compact for financial reasons. I can no longer justify spending that much money on such poor programming offers and here are a few examples why.

1. They repeat everything. And I mean everything for a two month cycle, it seems. I don't bother watching the Series Channel on Friday evening because all that will come on Saturday morning and Saturday evening will be re-run to death on Sunday. Same for the Food Network channels. I actually don't mind this as much but to watch but there are 10 episodes of New Scandanavia Cooking that came on for three months and I'm grateful on the knowlege I've gained concerning flash fried Norwegian Salmon. Same goes for ALL the documentary channels. In fact, the only guaranteed new content you'll see is on the news networks.

2. Movie choices are refreshed on Saturday and Sunday nights. The blockbuster movies are on while you're at work, slaving away to pay the bill and on the weekends and evening, they rerun Saturday and Sunday night choices with mainly family friendly numbers. They are also a year behind on new releases that have been on dvd for that period. Besides, if you prefer surfing the channel, cheaper to rent the dvd's where you'll be forced to focus instead of switching.

3. PVR - Their Tivo: Bloody expensive and pointless. All the shows will be re-run for a month anyway.

4. They had a monopoly on sports for a while but subsequently lost 80% of the Barclays Premier League to rival GTV, so forget football season. The one thing they do have that I'm grateful for is Formula One and rugby. You can get UEFA games on the local channels so no need to go for the premium sports package.

5. DSTV is different from DSTV Africa. The latter appears to be limited in choice. There's a channel called Sony Entertainment that they frequently advertise on most channels but that is not available outside of SA and it has most of the shows I'd love to watch like Amazing Race but it's not part of the Kenya programming. e.g. SA gets Supersport 3 (main football channel) and Supersport 4, Kenya gets the updates channel and a select sports channel which shows mainly SA soccer league. (YAWN) Oh yeah VH1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! cheap bastards.

Above all I believe that SA pays the same as Kenyans for more channels while we're stuck with what they chose to show us. I've been accepting nothing less for sometime now have gone back to buying my pirated movies and the sports bars are happy to welcome me back as a paying customer to watch soccer on GTV.

P.S. I'm still a DSTV subscriber on a compact level. Only because of National Geographic, ESPN, CNN & Series channel. Picture up top was taken at Haller Park, Bamburi in Mombasa. Gorgeous ponds all over the place.

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