MultiChoice unveils new Internet, mobile services

MultiChoice has announced the launch of a number of new Internet-based features for its flagship Explora decoder at an event in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 12 November 2014.

Putting to bed concerns that a separate Wi-Fi dongle would be necessary, MultiChoice revealed that it would be possible to connect Explora decoders to the Internet through the device’s Ethernet port.

Those who would prefer a wireless option can buy a USB Wi-Fi connector for their decoders instead at a recommended retail price of R399, MultiChoice said.

The pay-TV operator has made no secret of its intention to add Internet connectivity – specifically remote recording and Catch Up Plus – to the Explora.

When it launched the decoder in August 2013 MultiChoice said it planned to offer online content through the Explora in future, later announcing a broad deadline of “by the end of 2014”.

DStv Wi-Fi Connection right front press shot
DStv Wi-Fi Connection right front press shot

During October 2014 DStv Digital Media CEO John Kotsaftis told journalists that the Explora would be fully connected by 20 November.

Remote recording lets users set their personal video recorder from an app, desktop browser, or mobile websites.

DStv Catch Up Plus will add another 300 titles to the existing 280, including box sets. Subscribers will have to download these extra titles to their Exploras before they can watch them.

Up to 25 downloads may be queued at once and the DStv Catch Up Plus service on the Explora also includes queue management features.

Streaming is not supported to work around South Africa’s “bandwidth challenge” at the moment, Kotsaftis said.

DStv Catch-Up Plus downloaded content screenshot
DStv Catch-Up Plus downloaded content screenshot

Kotsaftis added that they will be pushing out an update to the Explora in future to allow “progressive downloading”, which will let subscribers watch content while it’s busy downloading.

Development of the Explora’s online features won’t stop here, though.

By April 2015 MultiChoice plans to include a function which will allow playback of DStv Catch Up Plus content to begin almost instantly, he said.

Updates for the DStv Explora software to support the new online features will begin rolling out this week, said CEO of broadcast technology at MultiChoice, Gerdus van Eeden.

DStv Now live streaming
DStv Now live streaming

Multichoice Now mobile app

MultiChoice also revealed its DStv Now mobile application for Android and iOS devices, which is set to launch before the end of November 2014.

“It’s pretty stable and works pretty well already, but we want to squash a last few bugs,” Kotsaftis said.

The app offers DStv Premium subscribers with PVR access the ability to watch DStv Catch Up content on their mobile devices, and lets them stream a number of channels live over the Internet.

All the sports channels, M-Net, and the M-Net movies channels will be available to stream through DStv Now.

Subscribers to any bouquet with PVR access and an Explora decoder that is connected to the Internet will also be able to set recordings remotely from the app.

Asked about the minimum requirements of the app, Kotsaftis said they support down to the oldest iPad 2 and Android devices running at least the 4.1 “Jelly Bean” version of the mobile operating system.

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MultiChoice unveils new Internet, mobile services