[PARTNER CONTENT] Discerning television audiences and media consumers are increasingly looking for quality viewing options which can be both entertaining and affordable, writes Mmatshipi Matebane.
This trend will, no doubt, continue, especially in South Africa, where households across all demographics and income groups have to stretch budgets and cut down on non-essential spending.
However, there will always be a market for a television service which offers a broad spectrum of alternative channels without the inevitable annual rise in viewing fees.
Free-to-air television provides this option. In South Africa, Openview, a subsidiary of media company eMedia Investments, has carved a unique position for itself in the market and a proven track record for quality programming and reliable service.
What sets its model apart from other players in the industry is that its customers only have to make an initial payment for the television dish and decoder and never have to fork out any further amount for access to the wide array of channels.
No annual increase in subscriptions
This removes one of the biggest gripes of the consumers of other television offerings – the sharp annual increases in subscription costs. Viewers increasingly complain that they have to pay more and more every year for a bouquet of channels which they seldom, if ever, watch.
The reality is that household budgets in South Africa are getting squeezed and consumers have to battle against rising prices of all goods and services. The country is in a technical recession and “black swan” events such as the appearance of the Covid-19 virus place huge additional strains on the economy.
Households have to make hard choices on daily expenditures. This cuts across most income groups – from poorer communities, to young families that are just starting out, to middle-aged wage earners, to senior citizens living on fixed incomes. There is little expendable income available at the end of the month to go towards non-essential items and services.
However, there is – and will always be – a need to be informed, to be educated and to be entertained. And no modern medium can deliver these functions better than a quality television service which offers a broad spectrum of channels and options.
If you take into account that this service will remain free of charge for as long as you subscribe, it explains why more and more households are moving towards the free-to-air option provided by Openview.
Free television into the future
With Openview, there are no contracts and no monthly fees. Subscribers pay once for the dish and decoder and enjoy free television into the future and beyond.
The initial growth in the early years since its inception in 2013 was slow, but steady. However, it is now fast reaching the defining target of 2-million subscribers as more and more South Africans become aware of the quality and affordability of the services that are on offer.
Free-to-air television is a well-established viewing model in many countries in Europe, the Middle East, Australasia and North America where it has accumulated loyal audiences. In South Africa Openview has become synonymous with quality programming while it is also growing rapidly in other key markets on the continent.
Once subscribers have purchased and installed the decoder and dish, they have access to more than 20 radio stations and TV channels, including some that broadcast in high definition. The channels cover a wide range of tastes, from recent box office hits, to local and international sport, to news and current affairs.
This adds to the unique offerings that are available to advertisers who reach aspirational markets or the public sectors who want to bring important messages across through a television service which reaches deep into diverse communities.
The presence of all three SABC television channels on the platform improves access to communities who prefer to watch television in their local languages. Access to Bollywood features and a growing list of daytime soaps and telenovelas add further spice to Openview.
Lovers of sport can watch English Premiership football and programming for martial arts enthusiasts. For younger viewers there are dedicated cartoon channels as well as a strong offering of educational programmes.
New technology and improved user experience
Exciting new technology has improved the viewer experience of OpenView subscribers in recent months. Open PVR now gives viewers the control to ‘pause’ live television for up to 15 minutes and to record up to 18 hours of high definition content.
This enables households to schedule the viewing of their most popular programmes to a time that is most convenient or to watch live sport while recording the latest chapter of a daytime soapie.
There can be little doubt that free-to-air television has changed the South African media landscape, introduced more variety to the menu of the viewing public and brought more choices to viewers that are looking for alternatives.
Openview will continue to grow and introduce exciting new programming, more quality and meet the expectations of an ever-growing viewership with a wide range of tastes and preferences.
What will remain constant, however, is its unique offering to its viewers… free quality channels, no monthly fees, no annual increases, no hidden costs.
In a rapidly changing media landscape OpenView will continue to provide a real alternative to viewers who want to be informed, educated and entertained by an affordable and accessible network.
About MMATSHIPI MATEBANE
Mmatshipi Matebane is the Retail Executive for Openview, South Africa’s only free-to-air satellite TV platform. Matebane is a tried and tested business executive with over 18 years of expertise spanning broadcasting, consumer electronics, manufacturing, FMCG, and the pharmaceutical sector. In 2014, Matebane joined eMedia Holdings as retail executive at Openview, South Africa’s first free-to-air satellite TV service. During his tenure, Matebane led Openview to become a significant role-player in the market, with over 1.9 million homes now owning an Openview device.
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