Satellite pay TV operator MultiChoice finally unveiled at an event in Johannesburg today (21 July 2011) their video-on-demand (VOD) service targeted at the movie rental market.
Rumours of the service first surfaced last year. Details leaked in March 2011 when MultiChoice updated their terms and conditions to include a section titled “BoxOffice Service.”
John Kotsaftis, DStv Online CEO, said that BoxOffice is set to offer movies 4-6 months after they go off the circuit, before they are broadcast on DStv’s channels.
Though many have called the launch of DStv BoxOffice “the death of the video rental store,” it remains to be seen what effect it will have on local businesses.
For one, BoxOffice requires a DStv Premium subscription (R559 p/m) and PVR access (R65) before movies can be rented for a fee starting at R25 per movie, with the first movie free. Kotsaftis said that in some cases they are subsidising the movie, but they wanted to offer the rentals at a low rate to test the service out.
Kotsaftis said that the service is available on their whole PVR range, including their SD PVR and HD PVRs.
DStv were very careful about the movies they’ve selected for the service, Kotsaftis said, explaining that they’ve seeded the service with blockbuster movies that have grossed a certain amount at the box office.
To use DStv BoxOffice, users will have to register for the service, which they can do from their PVR. Your smart card number is displayed on screen and you SMS it to a shortcode.
Once registered you can select a movie to rent and choose to pay with either your credit card or add the fee to your BoxOffice account which operates independently from your DStv account.
A R25 rental fee gets you access to the movie for 48 hours.
Kotsaftis said that they haven’t forgotten online and will be launching on Mac and PC before the end of the year and it’ll be available for all South Africans and not just DStv subscribers.
According to MultiChoice, DStv BoxOffice will be available from tonight (21 July 2011).
DStv may not be unchallenged in the satellite VOD space for long, however, as SouthTel have promised that their VOD:TV service would be entering field trials in July with the aim to launch the service in September 2011.