It’s taken six months of hard work, but South Africa’s second pay-television operation, TopTV, has launched a prepaid service to attract subscribers considering entering the pay-TV market for the first time – and those who might have let their subscription go due to financial pressure.
It’s a fact, says its management, that the South African consumer is “prepaid savvy” if the enormous uptake of prepaid cellphones is anything to go by. It’s also a fact that over 40% of South Africans don’t have bank accounts, making it impossible to subscribe to such services.
“TopTV Prepaid is an easy, accessible and affordable subscription payment option that we believe will have a significant and positive impact on our subscriber growth, and thus on our business overall,” said CEO Eddie Mbalo at the launch of the product, believed to be a first in South Africa.
“The South African consumer is already ‘prepaid-savvy’ and we believe this innovative payment method will encourage subscribers to connect, or reconnect, because of its simplicity that provides instant admission to the 62 world-class television channels and quality programmes that TopTV offers,” Mbalo explained.
Kgomotso Lekola, COO of TopTV, said it was vital to “build solutions that are sensitive to the realities of South Africa” and that “innovation such as this is non-negotiable”.
TheMediaOnline caught up with CEO Eddie Mbalo to find out more.
- What does TOP TV’s research say about the number of pre-paid subscribers the company could access? (I’m sure it wouldn’t have invested in this option if it wasn’t sure of the market!)
TopTV has not done specific research on the prepaid market but, through various analyses of existing data (AMPS etc), it does know the size of the market that it is targeting.
- What is the initial outlay for a consumer in terms of buying the dish?
The initial outlay for a new subscriber is the purchase of a TopTV decoder (available at major retail outlets countrywide) and a dish – the retail price is R449.00 and this includes the installation of the dish. However, retailers do have specials from time to time, offering the decoder and installation for as low as R199.00 or even R179.00.
- How are you marketing it to the consumer?
Following the initial media launch, TopTV is now rolling out an extensive ATL marketing campaign that includes print, radio and TV, and online advertising elements, in addition to in-store POS material (in retail: PEP Stores and via Blue Label Telecoms distribution network), the TopTV website (www.toptv.co.za) and its various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter etc.
- What are Top TV’s numbers like at the moment in terms of subscriptions for both packages?
TopTV currently has in the region of 160 000 stable, paying subscribers but this figure does fluctuate slightly month on month. However, there are around 420 000 TopTV decoders in households and one of the objectives with the introduction of TopTV Prepaid is to target these lapsed subscribers to get them back and viewing TopTV once again. Another positive in this regard is that TopTV does not charge a reconnection fee, so lapsed subscribers can simply purchase a TopTV Prepaid voucher, activate it via their cell phone, and start viewing!
- How’s advertising and sponsorship looking?
TopTV started offering airtime sales across nine of its channels towards the end of 2011. These include some of the channels created and packaged specifically by TopTV: Top One, Top Movies, Top Movies +2, Top Movies +24, Top Crime, Top History, Top Explore and Top Gospel, plus ASTV, the local Afrikaans channel broadcast on the TopTV platform.
The advertising across these channels is starting to pick-up and, when compared to other start-up TV channels, is performing well. Advertisers are responding to the packages on offer and submitting proposals for possible sponsorships.
- When is the prepaid option going to be available?
The TopTV Prepaid option is available now – and has been since the middle of August. The ATL marketing campaign launched at the beginning of September and the response to the prepaid voucher as an alternative payment option in this short space of time has been extremely positive.
- Can existing subscribers change their option?
Yes, a current subscriber can switch to the prepaid voucher payment option by contacting the TopTV customer centre on 08600 TopTV/86788.
Initially, the TopTV Prepaid voucher will be available from major retail outlets countrywide, with two price and channel package options: the Variety package at R109.00 for a 30-day period from activation, and the Ultimate package for R279.00 for 30 days of top-class entertainment. A R10.00 administration and distribution fee is included in these two pricing options because TopTV has to pay the retailers to sell the vouchers on its behalf