The excitement is palpable as rugby fans in Zimbabwe gear up for the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC), set to kick off today (Friday, 8 September 2023). The tournament promises thrilling matches, showcasing the world’s top rugby talent. As always, Multichoice’s DStv is going to be broadcasting all the matches live and in HD (no 4K yet) on their Supersport channels. To watch most of these matches you will need a DStv Premium subscription which does not come cheap. It costs as much as US$80/month. It’s an amount most cash-strapped Zimbabweans cannot afford. There is a way to watch these matches for free.

They waited until the last minute but SABC and Multichoice reached a last-minute deal that will allow SABC to broadcast some of the matches on their channels. Under the agreement between the two companies, the SABC will broadcast 16 matches, including the opening ceremony and opening match, all matches that the Springboks participate in, two quarter-final matches, one semi-final, the bronze final, the final and the closing ceremony. Even if the Springboks do not qualify for the final stages-which is unlikely- SABC will still be allowed to broadcast these matches.

Time to get that OpenView decoder

A lot of Zimbabweans already have an OpenView HD decoder in their homes as it is a popular way to watch South African channels like SABC for free. While the act of using OpenView HD is legally questionable most people feel it is fair game because after 43 years the Zimbabwean government still practically has one boring channel in ZTV. OpenView, which is affiliated with eTV is a free-to-air, advertisement-supported platform. All you need to do is to buy the OpenView Decoder get it installed and it will be free forever.

There are scores of sellers who supply the decoder in Zimbabwe. If you already have a DSTV dish installed you do not need to change anything. You can just plug and play your decoder as OpenView uses the same satellites that OpenView does. If you do not have a dish installed you will need to buy the entire set and not just the decoder:

  • If you already have a DStv dish on your roof you just need to buy the OpenView decoder. Currently, the going price for the decoder is US$35. It is always wiser and easier to buy an activated decoder but you can do it on your own as long as you have a South African number.
  • If you do not have a DStv decoder you will need to buy the entire set which comes with the decoder, dish, LNB, cable and mounting brackets for around $50-$55
  • If you need help or do not have the dish already installed you can expect to pay about US$10 for installation/technical diagnosis. You can bet that there are OpenView installers in your neighbourhood no matter where you live.

Using SABC and OpenView are the easiest ways to watch DSTV but they are not the only ways. There are other ways to watch the matches for free if you have a good internet connection. We will start with the easiest most legal ways.

  • Ask a friend who has a DStv account to lend you their DStv Stream account. Most people do not use their DStv Stream account. If you don’t know that is just know that everyone with a DStv account is allowed to stream all channels online as well.
  • Asking a friend with a ShowMax Pro account to lend you their account. ShowMax Pro allows you to stream sports online and costs US$17.99 per month. You can have two people sharing the same account.

The other questionable methods of VPN

In Southern Africa, MultiChoice’s exclusive rights grant them the ability to broadcast and stream all live RWC matches. This means that any attempt to access the games through alternative means could be considered illegal under both Zimbabwean and South African law. Copyright law protects content creators and rights holders, like SuperSport, granting them exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, and broadcast the content. Therefore, any unauthorised access, distribution, or reproduction of RWC matches could be a violation of this act. In essence, watching the 2023 RWC in South Africa through any means other than ShowMax, DStv or the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is deemed illegal by MultiChoice.

In countries like the United Kingdom public broadcasters like ITVX are broadcasting the matches live. TVNZ and SBS are also doing this. All three services have rights to broadcast freely in their countries. However, they can also be accessed via VPN services. All one needs to do is download an app on their phone, click on the right server and they will have access. Multichoice have paid a lot of money to get these exclusive rights so it’s understandable that they have already started railing against use of VPNs using terms like illegal.

Challenges in Enforcement

Enforcing penalties against individuals who use VPNs to access RWC content can be challenging. Reputed VPN services often do not keep logs of users’ activity, making it difficult for law enforcement to gather evidence. Additionally, the high costs associated with investigating and prosecuting illegal streaming typically lead to providers being targeted more often than consumers.

Available Options for Zimbabwean Rugby Fans

For rugby enthusiasts in Zimbabwe who want to catch the action of the 2023 RWC legally, there are several options to consider:

  1. DStv Subscription: MultiChoice offers DStv subscriptions in Zimbabwe, allowing fans to access SuperSport channels legally. While this option may come at a cost, it ensures compliance with copyright laws.
  2. Multichoice’s ShowMax streaming service.
  3. OpenView HD
  4. VPN Usage: While VPNs can be used to access international streaming services legally, it’s essential to exercise caution and consider the potential legal implications, especially if the service provider holds exclusive rights in your region.