There’s bad news for DStv subscribers planning to buy Microsoft’s new Xbox One video game console, which was launched in South Africa this week. MultiChoice, which owns DStv, has no immediate plans to distribute its electronic programme guide (EPG) data via the new platform.
Viewers in the US and more recently the UK are able to get programming information directly on the Xbox One, allowing them to select and watch their favourite live television programming through the OneGuide listings feature.
Although South African viewers can watch DStv and other television services using HDMI passthrough on the new console, they can’t use the Xbox One controller or voice commands on the optional Xbox Kinect hardware to navigate to the television content they’re looking for.
In the UK, Xbox owners with Kinect can simply say “Xbox, go to Sky News” or “Xbox, go to BBC One” to change channels.
MultiChoice won’t say whether it will open its EPG data to third parties like Microsoft at some point in the future. All it will say in written reply to a query from TechCentral is that EPG data is an “enabler for our hardware, so we don’t currently distribute it to open platforms”.
However, the company adds: “We are still evaluating how to work with devices that ‘pass through’ DStv and overlay [it] with their own EPG.”
Microsoft South Africa consumer channels group executive Melanie Botha says the technology firm is still “in conversation” with MultiChoice about a “future closer working relationship”.
She declines to comment on whether the two companies have discussed access to the DStv EPG.
She also won’t say when Microsoft will introduce Xbox Music, a streaming music service, to the South African market.
Former Microsoft South Africa MD Mteto Nyati said several years ago already that the company was working to bring Xbox Music to local audiences. It’s not clear why those plans stalled. In the interim, a range of competitors have launched streaming music services in South Africa.
“Until we can deliver a full experience and give consumers a great experience on both music and video, we won’t launch these services,” says Microsoft South Africa retail sales leader Timothy Thomas.
Botha says Microsoft’s South African operation is reliant on decision making at a global level.
Microsoft launched the Xbox One in South Africa on Tuesday. It retails for R6 299, or R7 999 with Kinect. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media