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By 27 August 2010 | Categories: news

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When parent company On Digital Media announced that it would be launching TopTV, South Africa’s second pay TV service, to the public in May the media was whipped into a frenzy. In the ensuing weeks almost every local publication had something to say about the incoming offering and how it would affect market leaders, Multichoice. 
 
Since then the hype has somewhat died down, giving the company a chance to focus on its core offering and the inevitable teething problems associated with launching such a monumental service. 
 
Now that the honeymoon is over TechSmart caught up with TopTV chief marketing officer Elouise Kelly to discuss how the brand is progressing overall and the challenges the company has faced since it took up commercial operation earlier this year.
 
Subscriber Base
 
Kelly noted that at present TopTV cannot give exact figures behind its subscriber base but confirmed that there are currently “120 000 [set top boxes] in market”; this includes retail numbers.
 
This is considerably more than the 50 000 set top boxes the company made available on special upon launch. Initially TopTV intended to offer full set up (satellite dish, decoder and installation) at a price of just R499; after competitor Multichoice responded with a similar offer the company elected to make the special available indefinitely. 
 
As a result Kelly confirmed that the sudden influx of subscribers was too much for the company to handle and that it was unprepared. 
 
“From the response we had and how we dealt with it we weren’t one hundred percent prepared, we didn’t know there was that much of an interest in the market. The biggest surprise was how anxious people were for another PayTV operator. People wanted an alternative.”
 
Although TopTV initially had problems with insufficient installation partners and call centre capacity, Kelly confirmed that the company is well on it’s way to rectifying the situation.
 
“We have managed to get installers up to scratch. Not every square km in SA is covered but we are working on those plans right now.”
 
Kelly also added that TopTV experienced billing issues in June and July but confirmed that the problem will be resolved and attributed it to a “systems error”.
 
New Offerings
 
Although Kelly confirmed that the operator is currently looking at new PayTV offerings to bring to market she stressed that price is a major issue for TopTV users. Upon launch the company made it very clear that it would be targeting lower LSM markets who could not afford Multichoice’s more costly DSTv offering. 
 
Nonetheless, Kelly confirmed that TopTV will be introducing its own time based PVR offering to market in 2011 and that there “is space on our transponders to transmit High Definition content, the only issue is sourcing it for an affordable price”.
 
In addition to this, Kelly also added that TopTV is “looking at a few models for the rest of the [African] continent” and may move to take on Multichoice in this market. 
 
Multichoice
 
Kelly was reasonably tight lipped regarding the actions of local Pay TV competitor Multichoice. Not long after the operator launched Multichoice significantly reduced its installation prices and aggressively marketed its DSTv Compact offering, which is closest to TopTV in terms of price and channel availability. 
 
Nonetheless Kelly commented that “actions speak louder than words at this point in time”, meaning that TopTV is very aware that Multichoice considers it a viable threat to its bottom line. 
 
Conclusion
 
In conclusion Kelly acknowledged that fact that TopTV has encountered logistical issues since its launch earlier this year, but encouraged the public to be mindful of the fact that the company is doing all it can to rectify any problems. 
 
“It’s a new business, we are going to have teething problems. We are aware of them and we are trying to rectify them, we’ll get there” Kelly concluded.
 
“”The accomplishment is that we have launched and that we are running”
 
We at TechSmart are inclined to agree. For more information on TopTV’s Pay TV offering head to the company website here.
 
 
 

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