MultiChoice South Africa will launch a streaming-only version of DStv, its CEO, Calvo Mawela, said in a podcast interview with TechCentral on Monday.
Though the streaming product is unlikely to debut in 2018 – and Mawela hinted that it is more likely to arrive in 2019 – various technical and marketing teams at the pay-TV broadcaster are working hard on bringing it to market.
A streaming-only version of DStv will not require a satellite dish to receive signals, rather relying on the Internet to deliver channels and on-demand content, Mawela said in the podcast.
“We are in the early stages of the development of this and it’s in line with what DStv Now offers. We want to improve it to get it to a stage where we can go fully to market on this,” he said.
This includes developing costing – looking at “what pricing levels will be acceptable” to its customers and the impact it will have on its direct-to-home (DTH) satellite business – and figuring out the broader go-to-market strategy. He hinted it will be based on DStv Now, MultiChoice’s streaming platform that currently requires a DTH subscription for access.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have timelines to share at this stage,” Mawela said. Asked if the product will be launched in 2018, he said: “Definitely not… We’d be lucky to get it ready for 2018.”
In the podcast, Mawela said the traditional DTH pay-TV business is living on borrowed time, with the switch to online streaming likely to happen faster than most people think. He warned that if MultiChoice doesn’t embrace streaming, and disrupt its own business model, it runs the risk of falling behind or even becoming irrelevant.
But MultiChoice clearly has an enormous challenge as it readies itself for the new world of streaming: it has a large and expensive legacy technology and skills base that needs to be managed and transitioned.
Tear up the business model
“What we are grappling with as a business is what our online offering finally is going to look like. It might mean we go backwards in order to survive as a business,” Mawela said. This might mean enduring a period of pain – including lower margins. The business plan, developed for the DTH satellite world, needs to be “torn up”, he added, while still supporting a legacy base of customers on its older technologies.
At some point, the DTH business will die, he said. “As long as you have customers that require that particular service, you keep it going as much as you can. Where it becomes impossible for you to service, if online becomes the de facto service offering, we might end up switching off the DTH subscribers… That will be determined by number of factors, including the number of customers (and) the cost that comes with it…” — © 2018 NewsCentral Media