At an additional R99 per month for 12 TV channels, GOtv costs exactly the same as StarSat's StarSat Special package with 47 TV channels, and the DStv Access offering over 50 TV channels.
At this price point it raises questions as to why and what type of viewers without pay-TV and who are possibly considering taking up pay-TV, would opt for this DTT product and not rather go straight for one of the existing commercial satellite pay-TV options available.
On face value even Platco Digital's OpenView HD (OVHD) free-to-air satellite service, with a once-off decoder-and-dish cost of R1000 and offering over 18 TV channels with no monthly subscription, seems to be a better deal.
To start watching GOtv, a customer must buy a GOtv decoder of R699. The decoder work with an antenna. The recommended "GOtenna" is sold separately for R299.
Interestingly GOtv operated in several other African countries under the same brand name, has more channels on offer to subscribers and cost less than in South Africa.
GOtv in Kenya for instance cost R95 for 23 TV channels; GOtv in Lesotho offers 20 TV channels for R99.80. GOtv in Namibia for instance carries Sabido's eNCA (DStv 403), while other countries include several TV news channels.
GOtv for South Africa's website doesn't list a single TV news channel as part of the offering. Asked why there's not a single news channel available in the offering, GOtv says "the GOtv decoder will receive all free to air television and radio services, which will include several news channels".
Asked why the GOtv South Africa offering has less channels than in other countries, M-Net says it can only offer up to 12 channels on its GOtv service in South Africa as provided for in its DTT licence.
"GOtv will give many South Africans who are currently watching analogue television the chance to experience digital quality TV at an affordable price," says Tsabiso Letsoela, GOtv South Africa's general manager.
"The digital GOtv service offers compelling channels with clearer pictures and sharper sound quality".
Yolisa Phahle, M-Net CEO says the pay-TV broadcaster – since GOtv is an M-Net service – "is excited to launch our digital terrestrial television service", saying "this is a major step forward for local television".
Although the SABC's channels and e.tv are not listed on GOtv's website for South Africa or in a press release, a spokesperson told TV with Thinus that GOtv subscribers in South Africa, besides the 12 channels, will get the free-to-air channels on GOtv like SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 and radio stations "as long as your GOtv package is active".
Besides the GOtv Value package for R99 per month there is also a GOtv Lite option of 2 TV channels, Mzansi Music and Dumisa, at a subscription of R45 paid every three months.
GOtv uses a digital network of towers throughout South Africa like what cellphone companies are doing.
Potential GOtv subscribers will first have to check whether they fall within the coverage areas since the signal is currently limited to mostly major sentra like Cape Town, Jeffrey's Bay, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Bloemfontein and Kimberley, and the Johannesburg and Pretoria, Polokwane and Mbombela areas. National DTT coverage will improve overtime.
What about existing M-Net analogue subscribers?
For the existing tens of thousands of M-Net analogue subscribers – M-Net viewers watching M-Net, SuperSport and the Community Service Network (CSN) through M-Net decoders – there's not a DTT option available yet.
"While M-Net analogue customers will have to switch over to digital television at some stage, they don’t have to do anything right now," says M-Net.
"Before each province shuts down their analogue signals, M-Net will be in touch to guide its analogue customers through the migration process".
M-Net analogue subscribers will get a "like-for-like package" and the exact business rules will be communicated and they will get correspondence this week, and more detailed communication with their options in the next few months.
"We are committed to assist our M-Net analogue subscribers through every step of the migration process," says the pay-TV provider.
"You'll keep getting your M-Net terrestrial service until this signal gets switched off. Closer to the cut-off time, we'll be in touch to guide you on what you need to do and how you need to do it. We only expect the switch-off to be a year or more from now."
M-Net analogue subscribers who are worried or have questions or concerns can email firstname.lastname@example.org