DStv to launch BoxOffice VOD service

Technology & Convergence

MultiChoice is set to launch its own commercially extended video-on-demand (VOD) service, called DStv BoxOffice, as early as during July, according to a source familiar with the matter.

DStv BoxOffice will be an extension of the DStv on Demand (DOD) service introduced in 2010 and will (according to a source not authorised to speak about it officially) take place before the new competitor SouthTel launches a similar VOD service in September.  MultiChoice declined to talk about DStv BoxOffice to Channel24.

SouthTel stunned the South African television industry in May with its announcement that it plans to roll out a fully commercial VOD system on a satellite network in September in South Africa and Southern Africa that will enable people to watch movies and TV shows in demand on a "pay per play" basis that will be cheaper than all current pay TV options in South Africa.

MultiChoice dabbled with a pay per view movies on demand system in the past but the limited service was stunted and then discontinued. However, the new DStv on Demand functionality, coupled with advances in digital personal video recorders (PVRs) and a renewed sense of urgency around the growth in the ways that consumers and pay TV subscribers have access to digital content, have put new impetus behind MultiChoice's decision to relaunch a VOD system of its own.

With margins under pressure and rising costs in MultiChoice's pay TV business related to buying additional satellite capacity, increasing decoder subsidies, the rising cost of acquiring sports rights internationally and increased competitive pressures from new pay TV competition like On Digital Media's (ODM) TopTV, launching DStv BoxOffice will make for a welcome additional revenue stream.

MultiChoice launched DStv on Demand a year ago and started field testing DStv BoxOffice towards the end of last year under staff. MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice works in a similar way to the design and functionality to the VOD systems of Britain's Sky Movies Box Office and Australia's FOXTEL Box Office where subscribers get earlier, immediate access to DVDs on the day of their release as well as blockbuster movies before they become available on the normal pay TV window. 

Similar to SouthTel that will use satellites and decoders because of prohibitively expensive, slow and limited broadband availability in southern Africa, MultiChoice reportedly plans to use its available satellite network to download pay per view content to PVR hard drives.

With the additional functionality, DStv BoxOffice will then allow subscribers – who will have to register – to choose from a rolling, constantly updated selection of movie titles which can be watched immediately for an additional fee. Registered DStv BoxOffice users will be able to watch a movie for a window period of 48 hours after it's been chosen, as many times over as they want.



New market report: VoD and Africa - A review of existing VoD services, drivers, challenges and opportunities (Dec. 2013)