Monday, February 1, 2016

MultiChoice and M-Net soon launching GOtv as its digital television service in South Africa; what is happening with M-Net analogue subscribers?

MultiChoice and M-Net will soon launch its GOtv service as its digital TV product and service in South Africa's digital terrestrial television (DTT) market.

GOtv, MultiChoice's cheaper DTT service already available in several other African countries outside of South Africa, will cost R100 for a monthly subscription according to its South African website, with a GOtv decoder that will cost R700.

South African GOtv subscribers won't need a satellite dish but will also have to buy an antenna for R300. 

GOtv will come with around 12 TV channels at launch that's already available on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

It's not clear what MultiChoice and M-Net are planning to do with its M-Net analogue subscribers and M-Net analogue subscribers – tens of thousands of South Africans who don't have DStv but who use M-Net decoders and who have been waiting patiently for the DTT switch-over to get new decoders.

Part of the big problem is that GOtv as a cheaper digital TV service in the rest of Africa doesn't include the M-Net channel. 

Yet M-Net analogue subscribers living in South Africa must get a "like-for-like" digital terrestrial television service – a DTT service that includes M-Net as a channel.

Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO, confirmed to TV with Thinus last week that the digital terrestrial television offering will launch under the GOtv brand in South Africa. MultiChoice will run the platform and product, and M-Net will supply TV channels.

Yolisa Phahle didn't want to answer when asked whether their would be overlap between the GOtv channel offering available in South Africa and MultiChoice's existing DStv channels, but the website now indicates that M-Net's lower-tiered channels like M-Net Movies Zone, AfricaMagic Epic, Mzansi Wethu, Mzansi Bioskop, Mzansi Magic Music and Channel O will be included.

Other channels include Discovery Networks International's TLC Entertainment, SuperSport's SuperSport Blitz and SuperSport Select channels, Viacom's NickToons, Disney Junior and Dumisa.

Commercial free-to-air broadcaster will launch its own DTT offering which will include its own set of channels which will likely include several of the channels currently carried on its own OpenView HD (VHD) free-to-air satellite platform from Platco Digital like eKasi+, eMovies+ and eToonz+.

The SABC's free-to-air DTT offering include only 5 channels: SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 as well as the SABC News (DStv 404) and SABC Encore (DStv 156) library rerun channels available on DStv.

MultiChoice and M-Net are apparently doing a media briefing announcing GOtv for Johannesburg media on Wednesday.

Besides the normal GOtv monthly subscription of R99 that will be known as the "Value" bouquet, the GOtv website for South Africa also lists a "Lite" GOtv subscription of R45 per quarter. GOtv Lite will only have one religion and one music TV channel.

The availability of MultiChoice's GOtv in South Africa will initially be limited - due to roll-out of the DTT signals.

GOtv will primarily only work in parts of Gauteng concentrated around Johannesburg and Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town where the GOtv DTT signal can be received. National coverage will gradually grow.

The department of communications on Monday also announced that 1 February 2016 marks "the start of the dual illumination period in South Africa's digital migration process".

Dual illumination means the period where both the existing analogue signal of certain TV channels - for instance SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, and M-Net - are broadcast, as well as the digital terrestrial version of those same channels.

Once enough South African TV viewers have bought their DTT decoders which are necessary to continue watching television in future, the analogue signals will be switched off.

The minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, says "government plans to distribute 5 million free set-top boxes (STBs). The next distribution and installation process for STBs will be in the Free State this month".