Friday, July 27, 2018

eMedia Investment's Openview free-to-air satellite TV service finally launches its first PVR capability with an Open PVR USB.'s satellite TV service has launched its first personal video recorder (PVR) decoder functionality, the Open PVR, making it possible for users in South Africa and neighbouring countries to now also record and store free-to-air content shown on and the SABC's channels to watch later.

The Open PVR, activated through inserting an Openview PVR USB into the latest NA9200 Openview decoder model, allows viewers to record and store content, as well as pausing a live linear TV channel for up to 15 minutes, and then unpause and continue.

Viewers can also record one TV channel while watching another TV channel on Openview's channels offering.

The Openview PVR USB is sold in two sizes - 32 GB that can record up to 8 hours of high definition (HD) content, and a 64GB USB that can record up to 18 hours of HD content.

Openview - formerly known as OpenView HD (OVHD) that eMedia Investments originally launched in October 2013 under its Platco Digital hub - has quietly been rebranded by eMedia Holdings with a new red logo doing away with the pink and purple, and dropping the "HD" moniker.

Vasili Vass, eMedia Investment's group head of corporate affairs, and publicist Michael Pocock didn't respond to media enquiries about Openview.

Patrick Conroy who took over from Maxwell Nonge in March 2016 as Openview's managing director has since left, with not responding when asked who took over this year in running its Openview platform business.

eMedia that is now pushing the new PVR functionality of the Openview set-top box (STB) to market is following StarSat operated by China's StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media (ODM), that finally launched its first PVR capable decoder in June 2017 in South Africa.

Openview: Small audience but big plans
Openview remains a loss-making operation with about 35 000 new STB activations monthly.

It attracts only a meagre 3.5% of the total television audience in South Africa but although it incurred an operating loss of R255 million for the financial year that ended March 2018, eMedia Holdings said it remains focused on funneling money into the service to drive it to success.

Openview reached 1.1 million activated decoders by the end of March 2018. It means that eMedia Holdings still has to almost double the Openview audience (6%) to reach its projected break-even point. At the current Openview growth rate, that will take another 4 years.

Interestingly, while Openview is only meant for South Africa, activated STBs taken outside of the country's borders, are also being sold, although illegally, in neighbouring Southern African countries, giving viewers in places like Zimbabwe, Swaziland and elsewhere access to, SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 that they find to be much better content that their own censorship-heavy state broadcaster offerings.

Within months eMedia Investments plans to launch OpenNews as an in-house sister channel on Openview.

OpenNews will also serve as a rival TV news channel to its existing eNCA (DStv 403) news channel that eMedia supplies to MultiChoice's DStv. The plan is also to do an additional daily Afrikaans TV news bulletin on Openview's eExtra channel, including new local Afrikaans TV shows.

eMedia's plan with this is not just to bolster the existing Openview content proposition and to attract bigger uptake, but also to create a content fallback fail-safe in the possible eventuality that the MultiChoice and M-Net contracts for eNCA, and eNuus supplied to kykNET (DStv 144), are not renewed should channel carriage renegotiations at some point in the future fail and eNCA get dropped.