Sentech has relaunched its Vivid free-to-air satellite TV platform as “Freevision” at an event in Johannesburg on Monday, 30 September 2013.
A Freevision dish, decoder, and installation will start at R1,350, Sentech CEO Setumo Mohapi told attendees.
ABT, one of the manufacturers that will produce set-top boxes for FreeVision, confirmed at the event that it would offer its decoder, dish, and installation for R1,699.
Another manufacturer, Telergy, plans to offer an “upgrade” option on its “Go Digital” brand of decoders: R499 excluding installation.
Telergy said it will also have a standard definition decoder (with dish and installation) for R999. Telergy plans to launch a high definition decoder with video-on-demand capabilities in future for R1,499 (also including dish and installation).
Freevision uses Intelsat 20 located at 68.5°E, the same satellite as DStv.
Sentech said that this means most TV viewers in South Africa will not need to install a second satellite dish or change the position of their existing dish when joining Freevision.
Freevision’s launch was confirmed in mid-August 2013 after news emerged that Sentech planned to relaunch Vivid under a new brand.
At the launch event, Sentech CEO Setumo Mohapi admitted before attendees that Vivid was a failure, and said that Freevision is not just the same platform relaunched.
“Vivid was created in 1999 with a specific agreement between SABC and Sentech,” Mohapi said. “Today we are putting Vivid behind us. We are doing something completely different.”
From conversations with manufacturers at the launch event, it emerged that Sentech has adopted a model similar to that which OpenView HD will use.
Any manufacturer may approach Sentech to produce set-top boxes for Freevision, and channels will pay the distributor a fee to carry their content.
While it is understood that Freevision will offer essentially the same channels that were available on Vivid before, Sentech said it intends to expand Freevision beyond linear broadcasting.
Sentech has previously revealed that it intends to offer an online video player, catch-up services, HD content, and personal video recording (PVR).