MultiChoice’s video on-demand (VOD) service, DStv BoxOffice, was launched last week via their satellite service to their existing DStv Premium subscribers with PVR decoders.
Executives present at the launch event expressed their hope that DStv BoxOffice would receive wide uptake as economies of scale would give them leverage in rights negotiations with studios.
The initial adoption of BoxOffice seemed to have exceeded even the expectations of MultiChoice on Friday (22 July 2011) when many users complained of being unable to use the system.
In response to questions about the downtime, MultiChoice provided the following statement: “Some of our customers experienced problems with the BoxOffice service over the weekend. We appreciate that this has caused frustration and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. Our engineers are working non-stop on resolving the problem. We will provide an update as soon as we are in a position to do so.”
However, posts from MultiChoice moderators on the DStv forums have confirmed details and responded to concerns many subscribers have.
According to a post dated 22h00, 23 July 2011, DStv experienced delays on “the servers” due to high volume.
These delays came after a number of subscribers also experienced delays the day before and were offered two free movie rentals to compensate.
MultiChoice forum moderators didn’t comment on a specific expiry date for the offer, saying that subscribers should “find something to watch in the next few months”.
At 11h03 today a moderator posted in the DStv forums that the service is up and running and that subscribers should let them know of any queries.
Subscribers have expressed concern over being billed for a movie that they never got to watch and have been assured by MultiChoice forum mods that they will not be billed for unsuccessful rentals.
According to the BoxOffice FAQ, available on the DStv Self Service website, should you be billed for a movie that has not become available for viewing you need to call the BoxOffice Contact Centre (011-289-2244) with your smartcard number and access to the Rental History screen.
Some subscribers have also complained that a movie they selected for rent hadn’t become available for viewing.
To solve the problem MultiChoice recommends that users wait 5 minutes and try again. A MultiChoice forum moderator explained that resending the rental code via SMS won’t work but that you’ll need to get a new code by going through the menus and renting the movie again.
It is still unclear whether users who were unable to watch one of their free movies due to it only becoming available hours after it was requested will be able to have their free credits refunded.
Update: MultiChoice has released an updated statement and clarified the availability of the two free movies.
“One of our core systems in processing Box Office requests malfunctioned this weekend. Our engineering teams are working around the clock to resolve the problem. We have implemented an interim solution to process rental requests to ensure that subscribers can continue to enjoy BoxOffice. We will advise when the problem is resolved,” MultiChoice said.
MultiChoice also explained that the two free movies were offered to subscribers who successfully registered between Friday (22 July 2011) and 02h00 on Saturday (23 July 2011).