Finally, South Africans have a choice in pay TV. From this Saturday, 1 May, SA consumers will be able to choose between incumbent MultiChoice’s DStv services and newcomer On Digital Media’s TopTV.
With both sides gearing up for a protracted battle for the hearts and minds — and wallets — of the country’s TV-watching public, consumers look set to benefit.
Already, there are strong signs of the incumbent sharpening its game in the face of competition.
On Digital Media (ODM), in one corner, is promising to serve a market — the emerging middle class — that it says MultiChoice has failed to address adequately. In the other corner is MultiChoice, which is gearing up to launch new products, including DStv Lite, to try to head off what it clearly regards as a threat to its hegemony.
The TopTV offering, which consists of a four main bouquets — with 55 video channels and 25 audio channels in total — will be available through a range of retail outlets, including Pep, Game, Makro, Dion, selected Jumbo Cash & Carry stores, CCW, Brown’s and Weirs, and House & Home.
The TopTV decoder, including installation, costs R499 — significantly less than the DStv decoder costs with installation.
Subscriptions start at R99/month for a 24-channel option, rising to R249/month for all 55 channels. ODM says it plans to add a further 15 channels in the next few months.
ODM will offer the following bouquets on TopTV at launch this weekend (prices are per month):
- Variety — R99
- Variety and Kids & Music — R159
- Variety and Entertainment & Knowledge — R159
- Variety, Kids & Music and Entertainment & Knowledge — R189
- Variety, Kids & Music and Ultimate Movies — R219
- Variety, Entertainment & Knowledge and Ultimate Movies — R219
- Variety, Kids & Music, Entertainment & Knowledge and Ultimate Movies — R249
Channels include Fox Entertainment, Fine Living Network, MGM, Discovery Travel & Living, Showtime, Discovery Science, BBC World, Fuel TV and Fox FX (see the TopTV-supplied table at left for full channel and bouquet details). However, TopTV lacks local sports content. This means soccer and rugby lovers who already subscribe to DStv will find it hard to switch services.
ODM CEO Vino Govender says the company has trained up satellite installers ahead of the launch to try to minimise expected delays in consumers getting the service in their homes. In all, there are 900-odd installers who can provide the service, he says. The company is aiming for a 48-hour turnaround on installations but admits consumers may have to wait longer if demand is high.
Normal 66cm DStv dishes can be used, though Govender says an 80cm dish is required. Consumers wanting to subscribe to both TopTV and DStv will need two separate dishes as the services use different satellites. — Staff reporter, TechCentral