SA TIMES -Let us explain that pay-TV super-aggregator MultiChoice’s new DStv Explora decoder will be the first that will have the “shelf space” capability and come with a carousel user interface display incorporating icon tiles for the Netflix and Amazon Prime Video video streamers as DStv morphs into a pay-TV super-aggregator and a content “one-stop shop” that will carry even more such third-party services in future.
Besides the launch of DStv Streaming, MultiChoice’s “dishless DStv” digital streaming version of its current service that won’t require the use of a satellite disk or installation, MultiChoice also plans to push a new DStv Explora decoder to market later this year that will be its first to carry and make over-the-top (OTT) services available to DStv subscribers in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa in the form of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Talking about content, Imtiaz Patel, MultiChoice Group chairperson, on Thursday in the pay-TV operator’s investors’ call following the release of its 2019/2020 financial results, said that “the multitude of offerings are leaving customers overwhelmed with what is called the paradox of choice and the need for greater simplicity”.
“It is where we see the opportunity to continue our aggregator journey. We broadcast and stream our own compelling local and international sport content and also make third-party streaming services available on our platform. All of this is to be found on a single platform, with a single bill that provides convenience and choice to our customers through a one-stop shop.”
Explaining how the Randburg-based pay-TV operator’s own subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service Showmax will sit alongside that of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and possibly even more in future like YouTube, Disney+, HBO Max and others which are now in existence, Imtiaz Patel said that “local content and sport will be a key differentiator for Showmax and niche and general entertainment content from other providers will offer our customers more choice”.
Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice CEO, on the investors’ call said that the pay-TV operator had to take the opportunity to “become the platform of choice for people to consume these OTT services”.
“People will go for where content is available. With the proliferation of all of these OTT’s there are people who want to get access to this content and if we are a one-stop shop where they can get all these services we’ll be positioned very well in the market for us to gain customers out there.”
In terms of DStv set-top boxes and the timing of the roll-out, he said MultiChoice is in discussions with the distributors on how to launch. “There will be a new decoder that will be coming to the market that will be able to allow this kind of services to be accessible through the decoder. Our current decoders do not support this.”
“The next version of our DStv Explora decoder is the one that is going to accommodate the OTT’s on our platform,” said Calvo Mawela.
He said that in the year ahead MultiChoice plans to “ramp up our investment in local content” and that “we will also be launching our OTT premium product, DStv Streaming, and focus on growing our paying Showmax subscriber base”.
Talking about the strategy of adding video streamers he said that it will ensure that MultiChoice “continues to be a one-stop shop where people go through us to get content – no matter where it comes from – from any of the OTT players that are coming to the market. In that way we make sure that we remain relevant and that people find the convenience of paying just one bill”.
“We also should not underestimate our ability to collect payment and to collect cash across the African continent – that also helps with the OTT’s staying with us on our platform.”
In terms of how customers will sign up and use Netflix and Amazon Prime Video MultiChoice didn’t provide any details but looking at the tie-up operating model between pay-TV operators and video streamers as it has been introduced and used in America, the United Kingdom, Europe and elsewhere, MultiChoice will get revenue in the form of commission for DStv subscribers who sign up and make use of these OTT services through MultiChoice.
Consumers with existing Netflix and Amazon Prime Video accounts will very likely be able to log in as normal through DStv to access these specific streaming services.
Existing DStv subscribers who want to become new customers and users will however be able to easily sign up and access (or deactivate) one or more of these services by simply adding the fee to their existing MultiChoice bill, and paying one overall bill, in rand, at the end of the month, instead of to multiple providers.
MultiChoice and M-Net have been following a lot of the modus operandi of the UK’s Sky pay-TV operator and will likely do so again when its new DStv Explora is launched.
Sky’s Sky Q decoder launched in November 2018 is capable of 4K UHD resolution and has OTT services like Netflix, Spotify and YouTube neatly stacked and showcased in tiles on the homepage.
Similar to how MultiChoice has bundled Showmax for free for DStv Premium subscribers it might likely do with Netflix as well.
Through creating a DStv-Netflix, DStv-Amazon or DStv-Netflix-Amazon package with the streamers – either being included for free initially or at a discounted promotional price, as part of an incentive to restore value to DStv Premium or to drive sampling and uptake – MultiChoice will be able to offer subscribers DStv and video streamers in a combined package at a cheaper price than if someone paid for DStv separately and Netflix and Amazon Prime Video separately.
Sky, for instance, started a new bouquet, Sky Ultimate, bundling the best of its own content, with Netflix, at a cheaper price than if a subscriber paid separately for a Sky subscription and a Netflix subscription.