Unlike DStv rival TopTV, however, NuWeb Television doesn’t intend using direct-to-home satellite technology. Rather, it will deliver its offering over fixed-line broadband connections. The company is in the process of securing the necessary network service licence that it needs to launch services commercially.
NuWeb Television is promising high-definition (HD) video content at 720p and a bouquet of more than 150 channels. There will also be a catch-up service and an on-demand platform.
Its directors are reluctant to provide extensive details about the company’s plans – they say they don’t want to give their rivals too many insights before launch. They won’t say yet how much the service will cost, or when it will be launched, although it appears very likely it will begin taking orders in April.
What the company will say is that the service will work on any line with a connection speed of above 1,4Mbit/s because of a special compression algorithm it plans to use.
It also looks set to bundle its services with a digital subscriber line (DSL) subscription as well as offering it as a standalone service.
NuWeb has hinted that, in addition to allowing consumers to make use of the service on their TVs by means of a set-top box, it will also be possible to consume content online using a computer, mobile phone or tablet computer.
NuWeb director Craig Ruurds, who helped develop the compression algorithm the company intends using, says the technology allows it to offer HD content using less than 20% of the 10Mbit/s connection speed that Apple’s iTunes Store recommends for HD streaming from its catalogue.
Ruurds is a significant shareholder in NuWeb along with fellow director Lyneale Cowie.
A promotional video for the NuWeb service suggests it will offer a selection of sports, movies, series, news and music, including channels like the UK’s Channel 4.
NuWeb Television promotional video (via YouTube):
Sports content is particularly important for any broadcaster looking to win market share in South Africa — as TopTV has learnt to its detriment. TopTV has struggled to attract customers in part because it offers a poor selection of sporting programming in contrast to DStv, which has worked hard to tie up key sports rights.
Cowie, who is former marketing manager for retailer Game’s African operations, says NuWeb Television is planning a “stealth launch” followed by a “very aggressive” marketing drive across all media categories.
NuWeb’s set-top boxes, which are being manufactured in the Netherlands, will be distributed by electronics retailer DionWired, which has a network of 18 stores located in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Polokwane, Mbombela (Nelspruit), Durban and Cape Town.
Interestingly, the set-top boxes will be capable of conveying location data so advertisers will be able to target their commercial messages to specific cities or neighbourhoods.
The planned launch of the pay-TV offering comes at a time when a number of other companies are talking about launching streaming content services. Telkom is expected to launch a video-on-demand offering in 2013. And SouthTel, which has been promising a similar service since 2011, may also finally get off the ground this year with its VOD:TV platform. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
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