New providers no competition for MultiChoice

MultiChoice, Naspers’ dominant pay-TV operator will look to protect its premium sports broadcasting rights as new free to air rivals enter the market, writes the Sunday Times.

Sentech’s Freevision platform launched, following a launch by Platco Digital, of its OpenView HD platform in September. However, MultiChoice’s draw card on the DStv platform remains its sports rights, something the new entrants do not offer.

Sasha Naryshkine, equities analyst at asset management firm Vestact, said: “If you do not have the sport, you are not relevant.”

“Why did Top TV not crush DStv? No sport. Why are there hundreds of thousands of new subscriptions to the DStv Compact model? Because they own, very successfully, the rights for the PSL, and do a really fine job of broadcasting them. Nobody wants to watch ‘delayed live’ TV,” the analyst told the Sunday paper.

Platco Digital is a subsidiary of Sabido Investments, a media company which also owns e.tv. It has an initial line-up of 16 channels, while Freevision has 38 channels, the Sunday Times notes.

Sentech CEO Setumo Mohapi said Freevision was a ‘gap-filler for areas outside the reach of the digital terrestrial television (DTT) transmission network’.

The channel bouquet will be expanded to include the SABC’s and e.tv’s DTT channels once the tussle between MultiChoice and e.tv over the DTT set-top box control system has been resolved.

OpenView requires users to by a decoder and satellite dish for a once-off amount of about R1,599 (dependent on retailer). Thereafter the service is free.

Freevision has a one-off installation cost starting at R1,350. Asked how Platco would monetise the platform, MD Maxwell Nonge said: “The channels we carry pay us carriage fees.”

Top TV operator On Digital Media, unable to compete, recently laid a complaint with the Competition Commission over DStv’s refusal to share its exclusive long-term sport broadcasting rights to other operators.

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New providers no competition for MultiChoice