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Future looks grim for DVD stores – The move to online streaming

By Isabelle Coetzee

Perhaps you watched SABC 2 on Saturday mornings. The animated characters flashing in and out of focus, and you and your siblings take turns wrestling with the antenna.

Perhaps you frequented your local video store – which later turned into a DVD store. You read the plot summary on the back of the casing and a movie review in your local paper.

This is how many South African millennials grew up – local television channels with bad reception and hiring video tapes over weekends.

Since then a lot has changed. The increased access to internet and, as a result, the increased number of users who prefer to steam online, has had a drastic impact on traditional mediums.

According to the manager of Movie Magic Video in Gardens Centre, Yumna Hanslo, the future looks very grim for the remaining DVD stores.

Hanslo, who’s worked at the store for two decades, explains that over the last three years the majority of DVD stores in the same area have closed down.

“We’re one of the last DVD stores in the area – there’s nothing left between here and Llandudno. There used to be six stores in Sea Point, and now there’s nothing,” says Hanslo.

She points out they only retained half of the number of customers they had a decade ago, and she suspects they may have to close down in a couple months.

The rise of streaming

One of the main reasons DVD stores lost customers is because of the growing popularity of online streaming.

Ironically, it was DVD stores that were the inspiration behind popular streaming service, Netflix.

Created by Reed Hastings in 1997, Netflix was born when he became frustrated at receiving a late fee for not returning a DVD on time.

“From here the idea was born to create a DVD by mail service which then evolved into online streaming in 2007,” says Cara Diener, Netflix PR account manager.

Since then, Netflix gradually spread across the globe, and in 2016 it became available in South Africa.

Prior to this, ShowMax was already available in the country and a 2017 study showed that it remained marginally more popular than Netflix at the time.

Today, there are also other options, like DSTV Now and DSTV Box Office, available to internet users.

What about television?

Local television has also seen a decline in its viewership. Popular drama programme, Muvhango, lost 616,332 viewers over the last 2 years alone.

According to a study released by GfK, a German market research institute, 20% of South Africans who sign up for a streaming service intend to cancel their television subscription.

The research looked at 1,250 urban South Africans with internet access and found that just over half of them are paying for online content.

About a third are streaming video-on-demand services, like Netflix or ShowMax, and 23% make use of per-day-view services, like DSTV Box Office. In addition, 10% admitted they also download pirated content online.

“The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour,” says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK.

Whether you feel like revisiting traditional video stores, or trying online streaming services, Justmoney found the most affordable packages from each. Have a look at some of your options in the below infographic:

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