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Online offerings gain ground in battle for subscribers in Zimbabwe

By , Sub Saharan Africa Business, Tech, News and Development Journalist
Zimbabwe , 11 Jun 2020

From Zimbabwe, power outages and complaints over programming have cost MultiChoice subscribers and industry research suggests consumers are increasingly tuning into online alternatives including YouTube and Netflix.

MultiChoice stated that although it lost 92 000 subscribers “mainly due to general economic collapse, hyperinflation and loss of liquidity”, among other challenges, it still has approximately 98 000 active subscribers in Zimbabwe.

The pay-TV service stated: “In Zimbabwe, the current hyperinflationary economic environment and lack of US dollar liquidity caused significant pressure on consumers, while severe drought-related electricity shortages (of up to 18 hours per day) in countries like Zambia negatively impacted on the demand for Pay-TV services.”

Experts say the company has continued to face pressure from online alternatives such as Netflix as well as illegal connections in key regional markets.

According to, Netflix is the 19th most popular website in Zimbabwe, although user numbers for the platform were not immediately available. YouTube is ranked as the second most popular website in the country after Google. The rankings were last updated at the beginning of June 2020.

The folding up of Kwese TV, a rival and cheaper pay television service, had eased pressure on MultiChoice and an improvement in electricity supply recently is expected to result in reconnections for the pay-TV broadcaster.

ITWeb Africa reported on Wednesday that internet subscriptions during the 2020 first quarter period had declined by 2.5% to 8.6 million, according to, the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

However, data consumption has been on the increase, boosted by in-bundle browsing and new cheaper Wi-Fi offerings from telcos, Econet and NetOne whose US$20 and US$10 offerings are offering subscribers monthly data of 25GB.

According to the regulator’s Zimbabwe Telecommunications industry performance report released Wednesday, YouTube now accounts for about 11.4% of internet usage in Zimbabwe. WhatsApp and Facebook account for 40.5% and 2.4% respectively. In the third quarter 2019 period, YouTube accounted for 9.2% of internet usage.

“A total of 6,661 Terabytes (TB) of mobile internet and data traffic were consumed in the first quarter of 2020. In-bundle data usage constituted 91.8% of total mobile internet and data usage down from 93.5% recorded in the previous quarter,” the report noted.

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