On Thursday, MultiChoice will launch BoxOffice, a movie rental service on its DStv pay-TV platform. The service takes aim at traditional video stores.
It’s the country’s first transactional video-on-demand service — a rival service called VOD:TV will be launched within the next few months — and it will obviate, at least to some extent, the need for subscribers to visit their local shopping centre to rent the latest Hollywood blockbusters. But will it undermine the venerable video store?
Little is known about BoxOffice yet, beyond that it will download and store a selection of movies — perhaps 10 or 20 flicks — onto the hard drives of users with personal video recorders. They’ll then be able to unlock a movie for a small fee — perhaps in the region of R30 — giving them 48 hours in which to watch it.
Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, says the impact on video stores will depend largely on the quantity of content that DStv makes available on BoxOffice as well as the cost of renting movies. If the number of movies available is limited, its impact will be minimal. But if there is a wide range of content available at good prices, it could hit video stores harder, Goldstuck says.
He describes the launch of BoxOffice as a “step forward in broadcasting in SA” but he says it’s only a first step to offering true video-on-demand services similar to those available internationally. “My hope is this is not an isolated launch but part of a strategic roadmap [from MultiChoice],” Goldstuck says.
As bandwidth prices come down and as broadband improves, the logical next step is to provide Netflix-type services, where consumers can download large volumes of television content on demand over the Internet. “That model will come to SA,” he says. It will probably happen within five years, he adds.
For now, the impact on video stores is likely to be minimal. Only a subset of MultiChoice’s customers has personal video recorders. “The mass market will still be going to video stores,” Goldstuck says.
Video stores are able to offer deep-catalogue content, too, which isn’t easy to do on a satellite-based video-on-demand service like BoxOffice. At video shops, consumers can “dig up old movies they haven’t been able to see or catch up on old favourites.” — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral
- Image credit: Richard Summers