TechSmart attended the launch of DStv's BoxOffice, a movie on demand service available for DStv Premium subscribers. We had to opportunity to talk to Jean Louis Acafrao, general manager for DStv on Demand, about BoxOffice and their upcoming online offering.
TechSmart (TS): Why did you choose to start off with only 15 movies available to pick from in BoxOffice?
Jean Louis Acafrao (JLA): What we are trying to do is learn from the market and also to find out exactly what the right proposition is. It's an evolving product with the service now on PVR, with online coming later in the year. What we have now is a premium offering that can be the most easily understood and consumed by the South African market.
TS: So will the PVR offering be restricted to 15 titles?
JLA: Until we get new versions of PVRs, that amount is pretty much locked down. As we cycle through better PVRs with bigger hard-drives, we'll be trying to make more content available.
TS: When will your online video on demand offering be up and running?
JLA: Definitely before the end of the year.
TS: What about download size of the movies?
JLA: Download size will vary in regards to the quality of the movie. We are considering giving users the option of either a fast download, but lower quality, or waiting longer for a higher quality movie.
TS: For the same price? (DStv subscribers currently pay R25 per BoxOffice movie).
JLA: Potentially yes, we have not finalised pricing for our online offering yet. Right now we are making sure that the proposition is correct.
TS: Will series be made available online too?
JLA: Not in the immediate future, but we don't discount that it might become available.
TS: The movie on demand market in SA is there for the taking. Are you expecting any competition moving in soon?
JLA: We welcome competition and we think it's healthy. The only thing is the size of the market in SA - we don't really have a big broadband base in SA. The studios also make it cost prohibitive for anyone to apply for rights. We do see potential competition, but I think it will be a niche offering, for example sport or lifestyle.
This article first appeared in TechSmart Issue 95, August 2011.