Multichoice’s Drifta decoder to expand access to DStv content


After its launch in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia, pan African pay TV service provider Multichoice has unveiled a new mobile decoder, Drifta, which aims to expand access to the firm’s content to previously uncovered mobile devices in Kenya.

The device will enable a comparatively more users of smartphones to access DStv content, something that was previously not possible as DStv Mobile content could only be accessed via selected Nokia and ZTE handset models.

Drifta, a mobile TV decoder that receives digital video broadcast-handheld or DVB-H signal and converts it into a WiFi signal for WiFi-enabled viewing devices including via laptops, PCs, tablets and smartphones, comes in two models.

First is the USB Drifta, which works more like a plug-n-p

Drifta

lay modem, designed for use with desktop computers and laptops and retailing at $ 75.27 while the other second model covers a wider range of devices and retails for $ 118.28.

The range of devices compatible with the decoder include iPod touch; iPhone; iPads running i-operating system (OS) 4 and higher, as well as Windows PCs including laptops and notebooks running various Windows versions – XP, Vista and 7.

However, Drifta’s coverage is still limited to Nairobi and Mombasa while additional devices such as those running Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry OS, Nokia’s Symbian 3 and Google’s Android applications will supported in future.

Felix Kyengo, Multichoice’s DStv Mobile division general manager said that in the future, Drifta, which upon launch can only enable one to access DStv content within Nairobi and Mombasa, would support additional devices such as those running the BlackBerry OS, Nokia’s Symbian 3 and those running Google’s Android applications.

The three bouquet options for the Drifta include: “Free” bouquet which enables one to access KTN, KBC, Nation Media Group’s (NMG) NTV at no charge; “Mini” bouquet which gives subscribers ability to watch selected entertainment channels at a monthly fee of $ 4.73; “Maxi” bouquet via which one can view selected entertainment channels including SuperSport 9 (SS9) and SuperSport 10 (SS10) at $ 10.75 and the “Maxi Plus” bouquet which is free for all DStv “Premium” subscribers and includes all channels as well as SuperSport 3 (SS3).

“While non-DStv subscribers can also purchase a Drifta and subscribe to one of three bouquets – the Free bouquet, the Mini and the Maxi bouquet, DStv Premium subscribers on the other hand will have access to the Maxi Plus bouquet at absolutely no additional charge after purchasing the Drifta hardware,” said Kyengo.

MultiChoice Kenya general manager Stephen Isaboke said that technology continues to transform the way the Kenyan consumers access news, information and entertainment, adding that development and introduction of new technology is key to ensuring that DStv subscribers get more enjoyment and control of their television viewing.

“The launch of Drifta is part of Multichoice’s drive to transform from a pay TV to pay media platform as our content can now be accessed via other mediums beyond conventional television sets,” noted Isaboke.

MultiChoice Kenya was established in August 1995 as a joint venture between MultiChoice Africa and the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

Even though still the dominant player in the country’s pay and Africa’s pay TV market, where it boasts of an estimated 4 million subscribers, Multichoice is currently facing competition from new industry entrants like Zuku TV and Smart TV which uses Signet’s digital terrestrial platform and MyTV.

Multichoice’s other competitor is Wananchi Group’s recently launched Zuku TV which has bouquets with up to 80 channels, charged at monthly fees of about $ 22.2.

The launch of Drifta follows Multichoice recent announcement that it would introduce live premium soccer for its subscribers on DStv ‘Access,’ ‘Family’ and ‘Compact’ bouquets with effect from August 1 at no additional cost.

The announcement followed the firm’s introduction of a new channel from SuperSport called SelectSport which makes it possible for subscribers to have access to selected live international soccer games from various leagues – English Premier League, Champions League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, French Football and Europa league matches. SelectSport will also contain repeat broadcasts of matches from the African leagues including Kenya, Zambia and Nigeria.

“The introduction of a new sports channel SelectSport, at no additional cost to subscribers, is the company’s gift to its subscribers for their loyalty, and the new channel will launch ahead of the new soccer season for the benefit of all its subscribers,” said Multichoice Africa president Collins Khumalo.

The DStv Access bouquet, with 35 channels, is available at a monthly subscription of $ 8.9 while the DStv Family, with 50 channels, comes at cost of $ 22.2 per month. DStv Compact is available at a monthly subscription of $ 27.8 and has over 60 channels.

“The opportunity in the untapped and lower-end market informs our launch of low-priced bouquets which if ignored could become the entry point for our competitors to come in and provide their services,” noted Khumalo, adding that the firm is reviewing the case to relaunch digital terrestrial services which could priced lower than any existing bouquet.

Currently boasting of over 90 channels on its ‘Premium’ bouquet, five different bouquet offerings and a large selection of High Definition (HD) channels, MultiChoice is recognized as the continent’s premium pay TV operator with a presence in 47 countries.

But even with its leadership in the sector, Multichoice remains cautious, constantly watching its back for any signs of competition and possible loss of market-share, which is crucial considering emerging TV viewership trends and broadcast platforms.

“The biggest challenge with pay TV is that if you stop giving viewers the right content, they will stop paying you. We therefore strive to give our subscribers compelling content to keep them signed to our platform,” stated Khumalo.