South Africa: PVR Gets New Features As Sales Rocket

Distribution

It was entirely predictable that Multichoice would vastly underestimate the popularity of its personal video recorder (PVR) when it launched last November. By now they'd forecast to have sold about 20,000 units but actual sales stand at 40,000 in spite of an out-of-stock situation that lasted from January right through to April this year.

Telephone calls to a few aerial installers in Johannesburg and Cape Town this week showed that they have all been working overtime getting new customers hooked up for the World Cup - almost all wanting satellite dishes for DSTv and a sizeable proportion of those wanting the PVR in order to not miss a minute of the action.

Multichoice hopes to have 100,000 PVR units out in the marketplace by the end of March next year - a vastly higher figure than their original modest estimate but still conservative in my opinion. Given continuity of supply, they could quite easily sell 50,000 more.

Multichoice is soon to start a rollout of additional software for the PVR as it promised at the launch. In August it is to release software which allows for recording of multiple soundtracks so, that on playback of a recording, viewers can select English or Afrikaans if they were both available on the original broadcast. This release will also have surround sound support built into it.

But, the most exciting development will be in November with the release of software that allows the viewer the option of recording all the episodes in a series when initiating a recording via the Electronic Program Guide.

This will be an enormous boon to those viewers who have to remember once a week to schedule recording of the next episode of their favourite sitcom, soapie or documentary.

Of course, what this greater than expected interest in the PVR is really telling us is that video-by-demand is the way of television of the future. As technology improves, volumes of equipment like the PVR increases and the process of pre-recording TV programmes becomes cheaper - and perhaps even built-in as a standard feature on all TV sets in the future - television channels will have to re-think their entire marketing strategies.

(Biz-Community (Cape Town), 13 December 2007)