MultiChoice Group is set to launch its standalone â€œdishlessâ€ streaming service by the end of its financial year in March 2020, according to the companyâ€™s Connected Video CEO Niclas Ekdahl.
Ekdahl on Thursday, in an event, said the company has made significant progress in developing the dishless offering â€” which will use subscribersâ€™ broadband connections rather than satellite for delivery â€” and will soon open it to external testers.
The services is currently undergoing internally testing which the company had earlier stated that it will launch commercially by the end of 2019.
Though MultiChoice has offered the DStv Now streaming service for several years, access to it remains tied to a DTH subscription. Well, that is not happening now, we will have to wait till March 2020.
The launch of the streaming-only offering will be a significant shift for a company that launched as a satellite direct-to-home (DTH) pay-television operator 24 years ago. Though it has offered the DStv Now streaming service for several years, access to it remains tied to a DTH subscription.
â€œItâ€™s been a lot of blood, sweat and tears.
â€œWe are now in a favourable position to launch dishless.â€
He emphasised that although the dishless service will probably be ready by the end of March next year, itâ€™s â€œstill a work in progressâ€ and that launch date has not yet been set in stone.
â€œWe still want to do proper user testing in a real live environment, but the chances of launching by the end of March are pretty good.â€
He declined to say whether the dishless product will have its own brand (something like DStv+, for example), or whether MultiChoice will use the DStv Now name. DStv Now will continue to be available as a product for DTH satellite subscribers, he said.
Streaming services across MultiChoiceâ€™s markets in sub-Saharan Africa are growing more slowly than traditional satellite subscribers. â€œWe can grow in both â€” there is a dual-growth opportunity. The risk of cannibalisation will always be there, but if thatâ€™s going to happen, weâ€™d rather risk doing it to ourselves than someone else doing it to us.â€
On when MultiChoice will offer streaming content in 4K resolution â€” it currently offers streams in up to 1080p â€” Ekdahl said the company is talking to content providers about securing 4K content but that it has â€œno firm plansâ€ yet to offer it. â€œItâ€™s still a niche part of the market and itâ€™s still not top of our agenda, but â€¦ itâ€™s something thatâ€™s coming closer in time. Itâ€™s getting closer to being a priority than it was a year ago.â€