Thursday, April 29, 2010

BREAKING. TopTV press conference: I asked, they answered. All the TopTV things you want to know.

You're reading it here first.

I've just finished the TopTV press conference at the Westcliff hotel in Johannesburg where TopTV revealed that its decoders will go on sale from Saturday for only R499 and free installation within 48 hours after a purchase by one of 900 installers across South Africa.

On Digital Media (ODM) starts the commercial broadcast of the TopTV pay TV platform on Saturday, May 1. Vino Govender, ODM CEO, was at the press conference and took questions from journalists and TV writers regarding TopTV. I can bring you my questions and some very revealing answers about everything right here, first - from the ODM infrastructure, price and TopTV installation, to its planned Top Sport channel.

For the Q&A, click on READ MORE below.

What will the price of the TopTV set top box (STB) be from Saturday and if you can also just clarify for me how that will include the installation cost.
Thinus, the fully installed price will be R499. That includes the price of the set top box, the satellite dish and the labour for the installation. We've gone out and made it as easy as possible for subscribers in South Africa to get satellite television.

Can I just ask a follow-up question, what will be the installation turn-around time of telling potential subscribers that they buy it, they will get it installed within 48 hours, or whatever the case might be.
The ideal is 48 hours, Thinus. There are roughly 900 installers in the country. Many of these installer companies have moved on to do other things, so over the past two months we have spent a lot of money training up new installers. We're looking at a 48 hour turn-around time. Last night we had 920 000 clicks on our website, so we hope we do 48 hours. But if the market and the demand go through the roof, people will have to wait.

When will TopTV roll out a TopTV PVR?
It's a basic set top box. We will be launching a personal digital video recorder decorder (PVR) around February next year. We'll also look at multi channel decoders.

How does the various TopTV packages work?
When you pay R99 you get 23 TV channels on TopTV. When you pay R249 you get the full 52 TV channels. We've created different thematics for our market. We've gone out and looked at what people really want. TV viewers are generally saying to us we're sick and tired of one size fits all packages. We've created packages on a thematic basis, based on the different genres that people want to watch. We've got seven different price options. People can pick and choose what packages they want.

I think not all of your infrastructure is based in South Africa. Maybe somebody can give me a little bit of an indication of the logistics that was involved, and how you decided how South African grounded On Digital Media's broadcasting fascilities would be and what would be outsourced and housed in Europe.
Thinus, I think the important thing to understand is that broadcasting has moved on tremendously in the years. We focus on what our main business is. We're distributors of content. We're not technical junkies. If you go to Europe and you look internationally at how this works, generally people build a technical backbone, and broadcasters feed off of it. The one issue in this regard is the economies of scale that is generated out of setting up these kinds of technical houses. In Europe and in America this is the norm nowadays. It's not about whether the technology is based in Europe or in America – you can really be based anywhere in the world an broadcast a signal. It's not about geographical location anymore. It's about economies of scale.

The Top Sport channel that TopTV is envisioning. MultiChoice is on record saying that SuperSport is not going to give TopTV any sport rights or sport content. What are you looking at putting on Top Sport in the future?
Thinus, Top Sport is a channel we're planning in the future, so we're not going live with Top Sport. We have Setanta Africa which is one of our initialy sport channels. We're also launching with Eurosport News and with Fuel. We'd love to have some SuperSport content but as these rights come up, we'll bid on them over time. When we research sport in the market, everybody's saying sport drives pay TV. Yes it does, but when we talk to our market, they're saying, I'd rather go for TopTV and then go and watch the big match at the pub. It's price and affordability and which is what people are looking for now.

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