Multichoice challenger seeks new window

By Julian Clover
January 13, 2010 11.26 UK

On Digital Media (ODM), the new South African pay-TV operator that is part-owned by SES Astra, says it is looking to open a second pay-TV window. Scheduled to launch in May, ODM has said it wants to pick up content after it has appeared on rival Multichoice’s premium channels, but before it goes free-to air.

In an interview with the financial publication, CEO Vino Govende, said ODM did not intend to compete directly with Multichoice. Instead the second pay-TV window would enable it to offer both choice and affordability.

Bouquets for the new pay-TV service will be priced at between R99 (€9.2) and R249 per month and feature a selection of domestic and international channels including Fox Entertainment and MGM. The basic package will carry 30 channels with ODM looking to acquire content directly from Multichoice’s DStv.

The low cost strategy has been tried before in Africa as a whole, Gateway Broadcast Services attempted to offer lower priced packages before its collapse in January 2009.

Receivers are being manufactured for ODM by UEC, starting with a basic receiver before later adding a PVR. Middleware is being provided by NDS.

In addition to the 20% SES holding, ODM’s other owners are First National Media Investment Holdings (28%), Cosatu’s investment arm Kopano Ke Matla (20%), the Industrial Development Corporation (10%), National Empowerment Fund (10% and First A1 investments (10%).