You're reading it here first.
I can exclusively break the news that On Digital Media (ODM) running the TopTV pay television service in South Africa is planning a video-on-demand (VOD) service for 2012 which will form part of TopTV's PVR roll-out next year.
While I've been aware of TopTV's VOD plans and that the pay TV operator started work on it a while ago, the failure of any of TopTV's previous announcements regarding new TV channels - the addition of HD channels, the acquisition or compilation of a sport channel and the roll-out of a PVR - none of which materialized, made me unwilling to share this information earlier.
None of the further commercial services developments TopTV said at launch would happen later in 2010 happened. Again in January 2011 TopTV primed the TV industry for a sports channel, HD channels and a PVR which the company promised would be rolled-out in 2011 but none of that happened this year either. It all created a credibility problem for the pay TV operator with TopTV announcements made by CEO Vino Govender that's no longer being taken seriously.
I can however now reveal that TopTV still has PVR plans and that although planned and promised for 2011, that the TopTV PVR will now be released in 2012. I can further reveal that TopTV has shifted its main focus from the addition of HD TV channels (although it's still important) to the PVR which will come with video-on-demand (VOD) capability.
MultiChoice launched their DStv BoxOffice VOD service in July (remember when I broke that news?) and SouthTel is getting ready for an early 2012-launch of its VOD:TV service in South Africa and surrounding countries.
''TopTV will be launching the PVR in 2012,'' TopTV tells TV with Thinus ''and says the PVR ''needs a testing phase and time to get into retail. The PVR will include features like VOD.''
About the addition of new TV channels TopTV is still quiet and appears to have capitulated regarding a sports channel due to tied-up and expensive sports broadcasting rights. TopTV is delicately fostering the brand perception that TopTV won't be a carried of premium sport content.
''We are very aware of our subscribers love of sports and the need for it on our platform,'' TopTV tells me. ''At the moment we are dealing with the challenges of other providers securing rights and paying large sums of money for these. However our content team are exploring all available opportunities.''
At the beginning of the month I broke the news RIGHT HERE that TopTV has now surpassed the 300 000 subscriber mark, which TopTV says they're ''happy with in terms of business forecasts and our growth plans''.
TopTV is still planning HD TV channels but is no longer attaching specific dates to that (or not official dates it's willing to share with the press). The PVR, which would enable time-shifted viewing (TSV) and allow subscribers to record shows, is now TopTV's main priority since that would drive advertising revenue faster since it would increase the amount of TV watching TopTV subscribers do.
It could be explained in this way: While the addition of HD channels could help drive TopTV's subscriber growth, the overall impact of a PVR on the TopTV business bottom-line will be bigger as it aids subscriber retention and curbs churn, and increases loyalty or ''sticky-ness'' - subscribers spend more time in front of the telly translating to more watching and more TV commercial watching.
''TopTV is still planning a release for high definition, but following research and input from subscribers we realize there is more demand right now for the PVR, which is what we're focusing on,'' TopTV tells me.