Death by subscription: Are you willing to pay $3 a month for ZTV?

Nigel Gambanga Avatar

June 2015 is finally here, and along with it, the countdown to what most people have been talking about for years now; digital migration. In fact, if you check your calendar, we’ve got just over 2 weeks until the big day when we all have to cross over into all things digital.

By now, most of us have an idea what the whole exercise will mean in our lives. There are promises of better TV programming, more TV channels, there’s better quality of content delivery and whichever way the wind blows, we are looking at one of the largest disruptions to mass content distribution for local television.

There are other realities that this migration means though. One significant issue is how we are going to migrate to a subscription based model for ZTV.

Instead of the annual licence model that has seen ZBC play cat-and-mouse games with us trying to enforce, we will pay monthly subscriptions in pretty much the same way we fork out money for pay-tv service, DStv. This model has been rallied for by a lot of decision makers because it’s set to help ZTV earn more revenue.

As it stands, no definitive price has been set, but the closest to an actual subscription figure has been the suggestion of $3 a month that was put forward by KPMG, the firm that completed an audit on ZBC. These guys came to this amount after considering the sort of value we currently get from DStv’s entry level $10 package, in terms of channels, and drawing a relationship against ZTV’s 6 channel offer.

If all things sail smoothly, KPMG estimates annual revenues of $15 million that a paid-for ZTV will bring ZBC, against the current $5 million that has been pocketed every year. That’s a huge leap in earning potential for the national broadcaster, and anyone can see easily how this is easy to recommend. However, there are other considerations here that pay TV comes with.

Once we start paying monthly fees for ZTV, it’s easy to stack it up against other monthly entertainment options. The first being paid ZTV’s inspiration, DStv.

Sure, there’s $7 between DStv and ZTV, but it all comes down to the guarantee of content delivery that stays fresh, meets certain demands of quality and doesn’t feel like a huge experiment on propaganda tactics. Freedom from all these potential headaches ought to be worth an extra $7.

Then there’s competition from the booming street market for DVDs. You can find all the latest TV series, movies, sought after documentaries, music videos and sports matches on the streets. At a cost of 50 cents for each disc, these guys have given everyone involved in content creation and distribution a run for their money. ZTV has to be worth more than these guys, because, after all, their businesses have thrived because of poor delivery from ZTV in the first place.

This whole subscription service looks like the final nail in the ZTV coffin. Consumers are now being wooed by many providers of content and the pricing and content variety continues to get more and more competitive. ZTV has to really come with a strong offer to regain a monopoly in entertainment whose last grasp will be loosened by an open market pay TV approach.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be a prophet of doom and ask if you’d pay $3 or any amount for ZTV?


  1. @26

    Why would i even form out 50c for anything related to ZBC??? What do they offer us?? I cant pay $3 to watch Tiriparwendo and news Hour.. Id rather read the Bible than watch ZBC.

  2. @mukanya

    they have to really up their game in terms of content if they are ever going to want my money

  3. Hook

    At least no more $50 TV licences we were forced to pay evem though we never watch ZBC.

  4. K Togaraseyi

    This sounds very good, I was getting tired of seeing these Zbc guys knocking on my door demanding licences for sub standard services. perhaps this will make them to stop taking viewers for granted and start providing quality services

  5. The Q

    Hey Guys, maybe I read this wrong… but if you have a TV you will still have to pay ZBC subs. Even more even if you don’t subscribe to any digital content… Maybe I read it wrong?

    1. The A

      That is true the Q: I think the Techzim article author here should have read in depth the presentation of the minister of information to understand that here it is not a matter of choice: whether you like or not, as long as you have a television set, one way or the other, you will have to pay for licence fees: the passage of interest in the minister’s report to parliament is this: “Everyone who watches television will be required to pay an Access Fee through subscription. This includes those who subscribe to satellite television content such as DSTV. The Manual Access Television License will be retained for those who will choose not to subscribe to any licenced television content but this licence would be at a very high scale to cover the cost of its manual collection.
      It would therefore be prudent and cost effective, Mr Speaker, for owners of television sets to subscribe to licenced television content.”
      So it is not death by subscription, but rather a better way to increase the ZBC revenue base.

      1. The Q

        So… with that said I just think it is outrageously unfair to force this. I see the car radio license legislation argument but I don’t see people without decoders (decrypting the signal) being forced to pay a fee for something they don’t receive!!

  6. Patriot

    Please remove those blinkers from your eyes. Whats wrong with ZBC. Arent we wasting our bundles to read your trashy website.

    1. BabaB

      yes patriot please don’t waste yr bundles and leave the techzim site. go to for more interesting content please

      1. Patriot

        Baba B, I chose which sites to read and they are all the same. Why should they remove the speck from the eyes of others, leaving the plank in theirs.

  7. Kay

    Who still watches tv anymore, streaming content is the future, even the Dstv model is getting outdated.

  8. tik tak

    tongoona ko tingadii iyo dstv ichikwidzawo maprices ayo.

  9. Rstade

    Typical Zimbabwean logic. You are made to pay for a service that you have no access to or intention of using. But when you complain that this is unfair you are ignored or told your opinion is irrelevant.