OpenView HD technical details revealed - TechCentral

OpenView HD technical details revealed

Maxwell Nonge

Maxwell Nonge

Firm details have emerged about South Africa’s newest television offering, the free-to-air satellite platform OpenView HD, which is operated by Platco Digital, a sister company to e.tv.

Platco on Wednesday released the names of the 16 channels that will be offered on its platform — view the list here. The channels will be offered in a mix of standard- and high-definition, with decoder, dish and installation expected to cost R1 599.

OpenView HD will be broadcast on the SES-5 satellite — the same one used by On Digital Media’s pay-TV offering, TopTV — and uses the DBV-S2 broadcasting standard with MPEG-4 compression. Dolby Digital for surround sound audio is also supported.

The platform supports HD broadcasts in 1080p (progressive scan) and 1080i (interlaced scan), though Platco MD Maxwell Nonge says it will be up to the channel providers to decide which HD format to support. Most broadcasters worldwide use either 720p or 1080i resolutions because 1080p broadcasts, although higher quality, consume significantly more bandwidth making them costlier. Pay-TV operator MultiChoice, for example, broadcasts at 1080i resolution on DStv.

The decoders themselves come with an electronic programme guide, parental control system and a conditional access (encryption) system supplied by NDS. Nonge says the company included conditional access so that the broadcasts can’t be received outside the English-speaking African markets the company intends targeting.

Because Platco uses SES-5, TopTV subscribers won’t need to buy a new satellite dish. Subscribers to DStv, which uses an Intelsat bird, will need to purchase a new dish if they want OpenView HD.

Nonge says he expects OpenView HD will have 200 000 subscribers by October 2014, with this number rising to 2m by 2018, at which point Platco expects to break even. The company’s revenue source is from the channels it carries; the channels in turn make money by selling advertising.

Although it has been delayed by years, digital terrestrial television (DTT) services are expected to be launched in 2014, raising questions about why Platco parent Sabido Investments, which also owns e.tv, had decided to launch OpenView HD now. E.tv has already said it plans to offer more channels on the DTT platform.

“We don’t see this as opposition to DTT; we see it as complementary,” says Sabido Investments’ executive head for business affairs, Mark Rosen. “We did see we needed to go multichannel. One entertainment channel [e.tv] was severely limiting.”  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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