MultiChoice, MWeb eye triple-play services

Distribution

MultiChoice may launch a bundle of uncapped broadband, pay TV, and even voice telephony to South African consumers. It’s working with sister company MWeb to determine whether there’s a market for such a product.

The new service, if it goes to market — and that’s far from certain at this stage — would be South Africa’s first triple-play bundle of broadband, pay-TV and voice-over-IP services.

The companies’ thinking can be gleaned from a customer survey sent to selected MultiChoice customers on Monday, in which the DStv operator asks for views on the proposed new service. Both MultiChoice and MWeb are owned by JSE-listed media giant Naspers.

The bundled service could allow consumers to receive one bill for broadband and pay TV. But MWeb CEO Rudi Jansen cautions that no decision has been made yet about whether to launch a triple-play offering with MultiChoice.

“There’s a lot of debate about this internally,” Jansen says. “It’s still under discussion and there are conflicting views about it.”

However, the survey makes it clear the companies are mulling discounts to hardware  to high-definition personal video recorders and digital subscriber line (DSL) modems - as well as to subscription fees. They are also considering creating one helpdesk for technical support.

It appears from the customer survey that MultiChoice is considering a bundle of its Premium DStv bouquet and an uncapped, 512kbit/s DSL product it may called DStv Broadband.

The service could include two free new-release movies per month, which could be watched either on PC or TV. These would be movies not yet shown on DStv but available through its soon-to-be-launched transactional video-on-demand offering, called Box Office.

Box Office will allow consumers to rent movies over the air and would be a rival to traditional video stores.

In its survey, MultiChoice says an high-definition personal video recorder decoder and broadband modem together would cost R2,650. It asks how much this should be discounted by to “make it worthwhile” for consumers. Survey questions suggest it could offer a R500 discount on the hardware, selling both devices for R2,150.

It also asks what sort of discount customers would expect on their monthly subscription fees. It asks consumers how they’d feel about paying R700/month for both services - a discount of about R100/month.

The survey goes on to ask which products consumers would like bundled. The services the survey lists are DStv on PC, via satellite and on mobile phone; magazine and newspaper subscriptions; Internet access; voice-over-IP telephony; Box Office movie downloads; and games.