SA’s newest pay-TV operator On Digital Media (ODM), which owns TopTV, plans to add new channels and possibly even new channel bouquets to its network later this year as it steps up its battle with incumbent MultiChoice, which owns DStv.
ODM chief marketing officer Elouise Kelly says a team of TopTV content buyers is flying to Los Angeles in the US next week to scour for new channels and to secure deals with international content providers.
Kelly says ODM will announce details of the new channels by September or October this year.
TopTV, which was launched on 1 May, has enjoyed strong demand from SA consumers. It has sold more than 50 000 decoders, though ODM won’t disclose how many of those are already activated as it doesn’t want MultiChoice to know.
TopTV’s entry into the market has resulted in MultiChoice developing a new entry level, R99/month channel bouquet called DStv Lite. The Naspers-owned company has also cut the cost of decoders and installation in reaction to TopTV’s subsidised offer of R499 for decoder and installation.
The new channels are unlikely to include local sports programming as MultiChoice has bought content rights to all the main sporting codes, including soccer and rugby. However, Kelly says ODM is keen to bid for sports rights, especially soccer, when they come up for renewal.
Kelly says initial feedback from TopTV customers suggests their favourite channels are the Fox channels, including Fox Entertainment and, surprisingly, Fox News, the conservative-leaning US news network.
Other channels that have proved popular are Black Entertainment Television, documentary channels Top Explore and Top History, and the two Discovery channels.
Most subscribers have signed up for the premium R249/month option rather than going for the entry level R99/month option, Kelly says. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral