South Africa: Torrents to hurt DSTV?

Will downloading movies and TV series hurt more traditional TV models like DSTV? The use of P2P services, like Bittorent and Limewire, to download movies, music and TV series has been blamed for loss of income by movie houses and music labels, and it may start to impact on traditional TV services.Many consumers prefer to download TV series and movies from the Internet and view them at their convenience – typically a few episodes in a single sitting. Apart from the benefit of being able to view this content when they want, it has added advantages like being advertisement free.

This type of content is however not only available through file sharing systems, entertainment companies like NBC have started to make content, like its popular Heroes series, available online free of charge.

These new content distribution models are sure to influence consumers’ viewing patterns and pose a challenge to more traditional TV services like DSTV. Consumers are becoming accustomed to the convenience of enjoying content when and where they want through services like YouTube, which challenges companies like MultiChoice to come up with offerings to meet customers’ expectations.

Speaking at the recent MyBroadband Conference at Vodaworld, MultiChoice’s Richard Fyffe said that a lot has happened outside of the Broadcast TV market which can put pressure on more traditional players. This includes services like iTunes, YouTube, online gambling, social networking, DRM free content, BitTorrents, P2P networking and new innovative entertainment devices like the PS3, Xbox 360 and the iPhone. All these services provide consumers with alternative channels to entertain themselves plus they are able to access and view content without using a traditional TV service.

DSTV is however not sitting back and has already developed numerous services to make viewing movies, TV series or sport more convenient. MultiChoice’s PVR and HD PVR services make it possible for subscribers to record content for later viewing or pausing a movie or series until they are ready to view it further.

Other services to compete with online developments include video-on-demand and mobile TV services (DVB-H). MultiChoice has already launched cellphone based DVB-H TV services in many countries in Africa, and it is only regulatory constraints which prevents the company from launching a commercial service in South Africa.

Fyffe also pointed out that MultiChoice is working on other content delivery services and models, including IPTV, DTT, online on demand services, additional external storage capacity for their PVRs and the introduction of PC based chipset to STB’s.

With faster broadband speeds and lower prices the Internet and associated services will increasingly pose a threat to the more traditional entertainment channels like television and cinemas. Innovative services and embracing technology - rather than fight it - may however mean that a company like MultiChoice will benefit from increased broadband penetration rather than suffer because of it.


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