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Company typePublic
IndustryPay television
Founded6 October 1995; 28 years ago (6 October 1995)
HeadquartersRandburg, City of Johannesburg, South Africa
Area served
Sub-Saharan Africa
WebsiteOfficial website

Digital Satellite Television, abbreviated DStv, is a Sub-Saharan African direct broadcast satellite service owned by MultiChoice and based and with headquarters in Randburg, South Africa. DStv provides audio, radio and television channels and services to subscribers across 50 countries,[1][2] mostly in South Africa, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.[3][4][5]


In 1986, pay-television came to South Africa when a single-channel analogue service, M-Net, was launched by Naspers and local businesses/companies. For almost seven years, all of M-Net's operations were handled by a single dedicated company until 1995 when a second subsidiary company, MultiChoice, was launched. This company would take over the operations of M-Net including decoder sales, subscriber services (which were also available in local shops) and account management. MultiChoice would also embark on establishing presence in multiple countries outside South Africa.

Not long after, a digital satellite service in South Africa was announced by MultiChoice and was launched that same year on 6 October 1995 as DStv, an abbreviation for Digital Satellite Television. On its launch, DStv offered a package of 16 channels: Cartoon Network, CNN, a 40-channel DMX audio service, ESPN, Hallmark, K-T.V., M-Net, Movie Magic, SelecTV, Sky News, SuperSport, TNT, Travel Channel, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, TV5 Afrique and VH1. This prompted changes to the main M-Net channel, which, while having its formula unchanged, started concentrating more on African productions, while K-T.V., Movie Magic and SuperSport gained their own separate channels. Aside from the DMX service, subscribers also had access to Radio 702 and Voice of America. Multichoice expected the number of channels to be increased to 24 by early 1996.[6] The launch of DStv was deemed "satisfactory", with decoder sales having surpassed 10,000 units by November 1995.[7]

Within weeks of its launch, DStv added its first new channels, Discovery Channel and BBC World. The latter was available over the terrestrial frequencies of M-Net eleven hours a day; this enabled subscribers to watch the channel 24/7.[8]

In February 1998, DStv had 70,000 subscribers across the continent. By June that year, the number skyrocketed to 215,000 in Subsaharan Africa and 31,000 in Egypt and the Middle East. With the launch of BBC Prime in March 1999, it had risen to nearly 350,000, an increase of 30% within the past ten months. This also coincided with the arrival of National Geographic Channel and the South African business network Summit.[9]

Interactive services started in 2000 with six datacasting channels aimed primarily at the South African market. These channels featured games, news, weather, and soon, the possibility of accessing internet services, banking, video-on-demand and camera angles during key sporting events.[10]

Over the 2 decades since then till today, television channels launch on the platform when channel carriage contracts are signed and/or renewed between MultiChoice and another media conglomerate/broadcaster and ceases transmission when channel carriage contracts are not renewed.

This was followed by the launch of new services including: W4 Eutelsat satellite with Ku-band services to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands in 2000 (which Multichoice bought five transponders),[11] Interactive Television in 2002, the Dual-view decoder in 2003, and the DStv PVR decoder and the DStv Compact subscription package bundle in 2005.

Thanks to the new contract with Eutelsat, DStv vastly improved its channel offer by starting Ku-band signals in West Africa, as well as the inclusion of new Lusophone channels in Angola and Mozambique (RTP Internacional - already in South Africa up until then, SIC Internacional and TV Globo Internacional), three channels from India (Sony Entertainment Television India, B4U and Zee TV) and the possibility of adding Arab and Lebanese channels in West Africa.[12]

The interactive services were provided by American company OpenTV and launched in the first half of 2002.[13] SuperSport had already started an interactive service, SuperSport Zone, in May 2001.[14] By March 2002, the roll-out was completed, by means of a new decoder, 720i.[15]

The year 2008 saw the introduction of the HD PVR decoder, the XtraView decoder and the high definition feed of the M-Net channel.

In 2010, DVB over IP (Digital Video Broadcast over Internet Protocol) and DStv Catchup services were launched, as well as the HD PVR 2P decoder same year and M-Net Movies 1 got simulcast in high definition for the first time. DStv BoxOffice (a film/movie rental/on-demand service) and DStv Mobile were launched in 2011. Since 2012, DStv has also been re-broadcast on Saint Helena, but with only 30 selected channels.[16]

As of 2024, Canal+ retains over 40% of the pay-tv company with them seeking to acquire remaining shares as dictated by law.[17]

Channels and bouquets[edit]

DStv airs more than 200 television channels and radio stations. The list of channels differ and vary across the regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. There are five or six bouquets/packages, each with a different price range, and four add-on packages for premium film and series channels, Indian, Portuguese, French channels.[18] Most current-day DStv decoders also offer access to MultiChoice's streaming platform, Showmax, along with other third-party apps through broadband connection and/or Wi-Fi connection.

Reception equipment[edit]

DStv has their set-top boxes manufactured by domestic company, Altech UEC, along with Arris International (for South Africa only) and Chinese electronics company, Skyworth, for the rest of the continent. The choice of boxes include a standard box with "XtraView" capabilities, an older personal video recorder, and the then-newest PVR box known as the Explora. An additional decoder known as the currently-discontinued Drifta allows the conversion of a DStv DVB-H signal to another digital device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone for portable in-home viewing.[19]

DStv Stream[edit]

DStv also offers a mobile app for mobile phone and tablet devices, along with PC to control DVRs and parental controls and allow access to recorded content and video on demand services. The app was previously known as DStv Mobile until 2016 and DStv Now until 2020, with the app called DStv Stream as of 2023.


Price fixing[edit]

In May 2017, DStv admitted to price fixing and contravening the Competition Act and agreed to pay R22 million in penalty fees as well as R8 million to the Economic Development Fund of South Africa.[20]


  1. ^ McLeod, Duncan (11 November 2019). "DStv rakes in subscribers, but they're spending less on average". Tech Central. Archived from the original on 30 October 2020. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Our Markets – The MultiChoice Group". MultiChoice. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  3. ^ "DStv Stream - The home of entertainment. Anywhere". unificationprod-admin.azurewebsites.net. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  4. ^ Ferreira, Thinus. "DStv says costs will remain 'most affordable' despite increase: Here's what you'll pay in 2023". Life. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  5. ^ "'DStv doesn't care about tourism recovery, high cost for hotels untenable'". CapeTalk. Retrieved 14 October 2023.
  6. ^ "Africa turns on digital satellite TV", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 7, October-November 1995
  7. ^ "dstv launch "satisfactory"", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 8, January-February 1996
  8. ^ "Discovery Channel and BBC World join Multichoice dstv", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 8, January-February 1996
  9. ^ "MultiChoice DStv subscribers rocket", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 21, May-July 1999
  10. ^ "A new television experience", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 25, May-July 2000
  11. ^ "Multichoice books Eutelsat W4", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 26, August-October 2000
  12. ^ "MultiChoice expands in West Africa", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 27, November 2000-January 2001
  13. ^ "MultiChoice to launch Interactive TV in Africa", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 32, February-April 2002
  14. ^ "Major re-launch for Africa's sport on TV", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 32, February-April 2002
  15. ^ "MCA launches interactive television", Africa Film & TV Magazine, nº. 33, May-July 2002
  16. ^ "Television | Saint Helena Island Info: All about St Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean". Saint Helena Information Website. Saint Helena. Archived from the original on 4 November 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  17. ^ https://www.digitaltveurope.com/2024/05/08/canal-again-ups-stake-in-multichoice/
  18. ^ "Compare DStv Packages". DStv South Africa. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Drifta – decoders". DStv. Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  20. ^ Lindeque, Mia (26 May 2017). "DStv agrees to pay R22m penalty for price-fixing". EWN. Archived from the original on 12 January 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2017.

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