South Africa: NuWeb Television, new challenger to DStv

Broadcast

NuWeb Television looks set to offer more than 150 channels and other streaming content and may be launched commercially as early as April, with set-top boxes sold through DionWired stores.

A new challenger to pay-TV operator MultiChoice, which owns DStv, is expected to launch commercial services soon, possibly by as early as April.

Unlike DStv rival TopTV, however, NuWeb Television doesn’t intend using direct-to-home satellite technology. Rather, it will deliver its offering over fixed-line broadband connections. The company is in the process of securing the necessary network service licence that it needs to launch services commercially.

NuWeb Television is promising high-definition (HD) video content at 720p and a bouquet of more than 150 channels. There will also be a catch-up service and an on-demand platform.

Its directors are reluctant to provide extensive details about the company’s plans – they say they don’t want to give their rivals too many insights before launch. They won’t say yet how much the service will cost, or when it will be launched, although it appears very likely it will begin taking orders in April.

What the company will say is that the service will work on any line with a connection speed of above 1.4Mbit/s because of a special compression algorithm it plans to use. It also looks set to bundle its services with a DSL subscription as well as offering it as a standalone service.

NuWeb has hinted that, in addition to allowing consumers to make use of the service on their TVs by means of a set-top box, it will also be possible to consume content online using a computer, mobile phone or tablet computer.

NuWeb director Craig Ruurds, who helped develop the compression algorithm the company intends using, says the technology allows it to offer HD content using less than 20% of the 10Mbit/s connection speed that Apple’s iTunes Store recommends for HD streaming from its catalogue.

Ruurds is a significant shareholder in NuWeb along with fellow director Lyneale Cowie. A promotional video for the NuWeb service suggests it will offer a selection of sports, movies, series, news and music, including channels like the UK’s Channel 4.