DStv kicks off BoxOffice Online trial

Pay-TV operator MultiChoice has opened its Internet-based video-on-demand (VOD) service, BoxOffice Online, to beta testers. It follows the July launch of the satellite-based version of BoxOffice, which allows DStv users to rent movies on their personal video recorders.

Consumers interested in beta testing the online service can sign up at boxoffice.dstv.com.

Users can rent titles from a selection of 40-50 movies for a 48-hour period at R33/title, which is a wider selection than is available through the satellite service. They needn’t be DStv subscribers to use BoxOffice Online.

MultiChoice will allow a thousand users to sign up for the trial this month, with a further thousand being given access to the service in January.

In addition to movie rentals, BoxOffice Online will also offer DStv’s “catch-up” service, where DStv subscribers can watch shows that have already aired.

MultiChoice has opted to run the trial with a desktop client that users are required to download. It supports Windows and Mac platforms.

Payment is done via credit card and consumers are then able to download content to their computer for viewing. Final pricing for movies has not been finalised, but has been set at R33/title for the duration of the trial.

John Kotsaftis

DStv Online CEO John Kotsaftis says one of the benefits of the online model it is able to offer a wider selection of titles. The satellite version of BoxOffice has only 15 movies available at any given time because of storage constraints on the DStv personal video recorder.

Kotsaftis says one of the aims of the trial is to ensure the user experience, payment mechanisms and product work properly before it is made available to a wider audience.

The average title is between 845-900MB in size, and Kotsaftis says the company has opted to run the trial via a desktop client because SA’s broadband can be inconsistent and this can prove problematic for streaming.

A browser-based version of the service will follow after commercial launch. DStv expects to make the service commercially available in February or March next year.

Kotsaftis says the company will continue to assess the state of SA’s broadband connectivity and will continue to enhance the service and increase the quality of the video it provides as connectivity improves.  — Craig Wilson, TechCentral

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