MultiChoice starts BoxOffice Online trial

Technology & Convergence

South African pay-TV operator MultiChoice has opened its internet video-on-demand (VoD) service BoxOffice Online to beta testers.

The move follows the July launch of the satellite version of BoxOffice, which allows DStv users to rent movies on their personal video recorders for 48 hours. Users do not need to be DStv subscribers. MultiChoice said it will allow a thousand users to sign up for the trial this month, with a further thousand given access to the service in January, TechCentral reported.

In addition to movie rentals, BoxOffice Online will also offer DStv's "catch-up" service, where DStv subscribers can watch shows that have already aired. Payment for the VoDis done via credit card and consumers are then able to download content to their computer for viewing. Final pricing for movies has not been finalised, but has been set at ZAR 33 per title for the duration of the trial. DStv Online CEO John Kotsaftis said the online model offers a wider selection (30-40) of titles.

The satellite version of BoxOffice has only 15 movies available at any given time because of storage constraints of the recorder. Kotsaftis says one of the aims of the trial is to ensure the user experience, payment mechanisms and product work properly before it is made available to a wider audience.

The average title is between 845-900MB in size, and Kotsaftis says the company has opted to run the trial via a desktop client because SA's broadband can be inconsistent and this can prove problematic for streaming. A browser-based version of the service will follow after commercial launch. ¬DStv expects to make the service commercially available in February or March next year.

Kotsaftis says the company will continue to assess the state of SA's broadband connectivity and will continue to enhance the service and increase the quality of the video it provides as connectivity improves.