MultiChoice Group does not plan an aggressive launch of its digital terrestrial television (DTT) offering, called GOtv, in South Africa because communications regulator Icasa has given it only limited access to the broadcasting airwaves.
CEO Calvo Mawela said that because MultiChoice has access to only a portion of a single “mux” – or chunk of radio frequency spectrum for broadcasting – it is not able to offer nearly as many channels as in other markets in Africa where GOtv has been launched.
MultiChoice shares a DTT mux with rival e.tv. In other markets in Africa, the company has access to two full muxes of its own in some cases, allowing it to offer between 40 and 60 channels on the GOtv platform. In South Africa, Mawela said, this is limited to just eight channels.
Though MultiChoice does not provide a breakdown of GOtv vs satellite DStv subscribers elsewhere in Africa, it’s understood that the former makes up a significant chunk of its subscriber base.
Although the broadcaster soft-launched GOtv in South Africa several years ago, it has never aggressively marketed the product. (It is available to consumers who actively seek it out, though don’t expect to find the decoders in mass-market retail stores.)
With analogue switch-off looming – barring a decision by the constitutional court to order a delay to the process, it will happen at the end of this month – Mawela said MultiChoice will (re)launch the GOtv offering in South Africa. But it won’t market it aggressively as it will not offer significant value compared to what is available via satellite distribution.
“Should the regulator give us more spectrum for GOtv, we’d see similar trends to what we have seen across Africa [where the product has been launched],” he said.