South Africans’ last hope for more competition in the country’s pay-TV market, Walking On Water Television (WowTV), is gearing up to launch a satellite TV service within the next couple of months.
TechCentral can reveal that WowTV plans to launch two bouquets of channels, one costing R49/month and the other R99/month. The low prices suggest the company is hoping to appeal to a broad market.
The developments come as rival pay-TV licensee Super 5 Media comes unstuck. Super 5 has retrenched its employees and one of its creditors is expected to bring an application for its liquidation later this week.
Despite suffering several setbacks itself, WowTV co-founder and chief financial officer Luyanda Mangquku says the company is on track to launch services soon.
“We have gone through the long and painful process of finding the most appropriate technology for our platform,” Mangquku says.
Though he will not say exactly when WowTV will launch commercial services, the company has finally revealed details about what it expects to provide to consumers.
Mangquku says WowTV will offer 10 channels on its premium bouquet, which will cost R99/month. A smaller offering, with about five channels, will cost R49/month.
A decoder, with satellite dish and installation, will cost about R1 200.
“We are doing all we can to be up and running as soon as possible,” he says.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA licensed WowTV three years ago, when it also handed licences to Super 5 Media, e.tv sister company e.Sat, and TopTV operator On Digital Media. So far, only On Digital Media has launched a product.
At the time it received its licence WowTV indicated it would launch a service with only one channel.
However, Mangquku says these plans have changed, which is partly why the company did not launch last year as expected.
He says the company had to review its business plan because of general market conditions.
On Digital Media’s TopTV has 55 channels, available in a range of bouquets. It has a basic, 24-channel offering for R99/month and a full bouquet for R249/month.
Mangquku says WowTV has sought funding to bring additional channels to market, a move which led to speculation it was suffering financial difficulties.
“Obviously, launching with more than a single channel meant our initial funding needed revisiting,” he says.
WowTV is still engaged in discussions with several unnamed parties to help provide the extra funding.
According to Mangquku, WowTV is considering off-the-shelf content. However, it is also in the process of sourcing original local content, which he says will set it apart from the other providers.
“Our local content will set the standard for local production companies in terms of defining the type of content that would fly on WowTV,” he says.
Critics have labelled WowTV a niche player with a religious focus. But Mangquku says the company’s offerings will not be strictly religious, but rather “family friendly”. — Candice Jones, TechCentral