MultiChoice is launching a new decoder, Explora 2A with a smaller hard drive, culling several TV channels from its DStv satellite pay-TV service to lessen repeats and upgrading 9 more existing channels to high definition (HD) thanks to more satellite capacity.
The new Explora 2A that will go on sale from 14 October, the first new version since the introduction of the original three years ago in 2013 is manufactured in East London and will retail for R1 499, the same price as the existing Explora decoders.
The 1TB hard drive that's half of the existing 2TB Explora model will only record 110 hours compared to 220 hours, but MultiChoice says more content will be made available through its DStv Catch Up video-on-demand (VOD) service so DStv subscribers need to record less.
The new Explora 2A can record 80 hours of HD content, as opposed to 150 hours of HD recordings on the existing Explora and has an enhanced service DStv Catch Up Plus with more on-demand content.
MultiChoice's new Explora 2A also uses H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2 that's a more efficient video compression format. The Explora 2A has a new remote control - A7 - that has backlit buttons that glow in the dark, will indicate when it has "low battery" reserve and needs a change, and has a dedicated hotlink button for Naspers' ShowMax subscription VOD service built-in above the DStv blue button.
"Our new Explora uses the latest video compression technology, which means our customers will in future spend less on data when they connect their new Explora to the internet," says Nyiko Shiburi, MultiChoice's group general manager for broadcast technology.
Unpopular channels cut
MultiChoice is culling unpopular channels and says its reducing the DStv movie channels offering to cut down on the number of repeats that DStv subscribers are complaining about.
DStv is also cancelling CBS Action (16 Oct), CBS Drama (16 Oct), True Movies (12 Nov) and AMC (11 Nov) with AMC that will remain available on competitor StarSat's channels bouquet and that shows premium dramas like Fear The Walking Dead that DStv subscribers will lose access to.
To compensate for the axed channels, MultiChoice is opening some channels to lower-tiered DStv packages, enabling channels like Mzansi Music (for DStv EasyView), JimJam and M-Net Movies Stars (for DStv Family), and ITV Choice and Lifetime (for DStv Extra).
DStv Extra subscribers will also get access to RAI, BVN, RTPI, TV5 Monde and the Deutsche Welle news channel.
More channels switched to HD quality
Nine DStv channels will be upgraded to HD quality: M-Net Movies All Stars, M-Net Family, VUZU, Mzansi Wethu, kykNET & Kie, BBC First, HISTORY, Crime+Investigation and The Food Network. By the end of 2016 MultiChoice will broadcast a total of 35 of its channels in HD.
The festive period kykNET Afrikaans film pop-up channel fliekNET will return for a 3rd consecutive year in December.
"Research helped us identify some channels that weren't popular or that had the same content as other existing channels," says Aletta Alberts, MultiChoice's general manager for content, over why certain DStv channels are cancelled.
"Our customers will be seeing fresher content on a more regular basis".
MultiChoice's DStv BoxOffice video rental service will now carry 30 titles in its revolving carousel. By the end of the year DStv Catch Up Plus will contain 1 000 titles.