South Africa: Dstv's launches Web Channel as “catch-up service”


Nearly a year after its launch, DStv on Demand remains the only web TV offering geared specifically for local South African audiences, despite increasing customisation of TV services overseas. Elsewhere on the continent, TV companies have not even started with this process.

DStv on Demand is a website offering selected content from certain DStv channels. The content is streamed or downloaded from the website over the Internet. Customisation has become an increasingly popular trend in the entertainment industry, allowing viewers to choose the most convenient time to watch their favourite programmes .

Overseas media consumers already enjoy content on demand with access via computers, cellphones and iPods, in addition to the traditional TV set. Richard Fyffe, MultiChoice's GM for new media, described DStv on Demand -- launched as a trial service in August -- as a "catch-up service".

The platform is free for DStv Premium subscribers, and will reach DStv Compact subscribers in the next three months. Eventually it could be made available to all subscribers and potentially to pay-per-view consumers.

DStv on Demand could even bring new subscribers to MultiChoice. "Some content will be available to non-subscribers to give them a taste ... it's all about encouraging people to become subscribers," Fyffe said.

The site's local content is its draw card, with Egoli and Carte Blanche among the most popular programmes . Sports highlights, Afrikaans programming and M-Net series programming is also available. Some international series are included and movies will be available from August.

Fyffe was reluctant to reveal how many DStv customers were using the site, but said: "It's in the thousands ... It's been gently marketed to users and the response has been good. People are using it more and more."

The success of the venture is tied to the availability of broadband services. A large percentage of DStv customers also had broadband, Fyffe said, but consumers had been concerned about the cost of exceeding their broadband download limits. But the numbers of registered users were growing every month, and subscribers were downloading more content.

(Business Day, Johannesburg)