Posted on May 5, 2010 · Posted in Personal

On Saturday I noticed some dramatic headlines about a war involving DSTV in South Africa. Turns out it is a price war between DSTV and the new pay-TV operator. I’ve clearly been drinking too little coffee because I didn’t even know we were getting another operator in the pay-TV space. For the record we do now have one, TopTV.

What is even more AMAZING is that TopTV and DSTV are actually competing, TopTV came out with a number of bouquet options that undercut DSTV and suddenly DSTV reduce prices and increase their bouquet offerings. Excellent for consumers!

This is precisely what you would expect in a free market, competition gives the consumers more options and, possibly, better, cheaper options. As a South African though, you should be surprised to see this actually happening. We have MANY cellphone operators in South Africa and yet there is no competition at all! All of their pricing structures are still based firmly on daylight robbery, especially SMS charges.

I didn’t actually want to moan about cellphone operators, we have many experts on that in South Africa, I wanted to make a suggestion to DSTV. No, not TopTV, primarily because they don’t show the rugby. I still only have MNET, I want DSTV but I’d like the part that I will watch not the bazillion channels that irritate me.

My suggestion is: Don’t construct random bouquets that don’t make anyone happy, rather assign a points value to each channel and then sell bouquets of points and allow your customers to choose which channels make up their points quota. I know that this is technically feasible.

For example, I am only interested in watching MNET and Supersport. I would buy the cheapest points bouqet that would allow me to that. Now under the current scheme I would have to buy the most expensive DSTV bouquet – which I will not do as I am paying way too much for the two or three channels I will watch.

Clearly this is a very selfish suggestion, I want to see all the rugby and I don’t want to pay the premium fee but if I am not alone then there may be more profit to be made in allowing customers real flexibility in what channels make up their bouquet by adopting a points system, I would certainly sign up.

Just a suggestion but I think it might be quite popular. Any marketing campaign benefits from being able to honestly say that the customers needs come first.

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.