Cape Town – Vodacom and MultiChoice have quietly decided to change their exclusive pay TV agency agreement for DStv Select.
MultiChoice will now be running these two pay TV bouquets just over three years after Vodacom launched it with big fanfare.
In a statement to Channel24 on Tuesday, MultiChoice said "MultiChoice and Vodacom have agreed that the DStv Select service will be managed by MultiChoice only – this enables the company to provide a streamlined service to its subscribers."
MultiChoice says as the billing will now be managed by MultiChoice, DStv Select subscribers will receive their DStv Select statements directly from MultiChoice and need to change their debit order instructions from Vodacom to MultiChoice.
"We urge customers to update their payment details with MultiChoice by 1 November to avoid having their DStv Select services discontinued."
Vodacom has offered the two sell-through DStv Select bouquets costing R157 per month since June 2007.
Vodacom has now informed DStv Select subscribers in writing that "from 1 October we will no longer offer the DStv Select product through Vodacom". MultiChoice is also calling DStv Select subscribers to tell them of the change. Technical support
Previously MultiChoice dealt with technical support queries for Vodacom's DStv Select 1 and Select 2 directly, but it was in essence a separate Vodacom product, sold and marketed by Vodacom to Vodacom and non-Vodcom customers.
Now, in a surprise change, and not announced to the press, the service for these bouquets will be directly managed by MultiChoice.
From the perspective of the end-consumer and DStv Select subscriber nothing will essentially change, except that they will now be directly dealing with MultiChoice and getting their monthly account directly from MultiChoice, instead of from Vodacom.Subscription feel not affected
In a copy of one of these letters that Channel24 has obtained, subscribers are informed that "you will continue to receive the DStv Select bouquet as usual, and your channel line-up and subscription fee amount will not be affected by this change.
"However, as regards the billing arrangements you will receive your DStv Select statements directly from MultiChoice. To ensure your continued viewing pleasure, MultiChoice will be contacting you to assist with transferring your payment details."
Vodacom introduced DStv Select as a cheaper bouquet with a smaller selection of channels in June 2007 as Vodacom formalised its entry into South Africa's broadcasting and multimedia market. At the launch Vodacom said it expected "strong growth" for its DStv Select 1 and 2 satellite TV bouquets.No pressure
DStv Select subscribers say no pressure has been put on them to upgrade to other DStv bouquets or packages like DStv Lite or DStv Compact.
One said that "a friendly woman from MultiChoice was on the phone with me for almost half an hour this past week to explain everything to me. Vodacom also sent a letter saying MultiChoice is now going to send me the account from the end of the month."
A call centre operator at Vodacom's helpline number under the DStv Select option told Channel24 late on Sunday that "Vodacom has given it over to MultiChoice but don't worry nothing will actually change".
Whether MultiChoice will now keep and promote DStv Select 1 and DStv Select 2 as actively-offered bouquets, or whether sign-up will be restricted and the existing subscriber base of these bouquets allowed to atrophy though natural attrition, is not immediately clear. Thinus Ferreira is a TV and media expert. Read his blog here.