In a first, South African company MultiChoice held a single press event for its combined group of companies – M-Net, SuperSport, DStv, DStv Online, DStv Mobile and DStv Air Time Sales – on 16 February at the world famous Kyalami Race Track in Johannesburg.
Themed “Entertainment Beyond Limits’ the purpose of the event was to mark MultiChoice’s 26th year and to highlight upcoming programming (which promises to give subscribers “the ride of their lives’) on the MultiChoice platforms.
Dozens of journalists from around the country were given the amazing opportunity to drive racing cars (Reynard 98E cars with 3.5 V6 Dodge engines and 450-brake horsepower per tonne – the same type of car as used in an actual US race car competition series) around the Kyalami race track.
The journalists also took part in a tyre challenge, where they had to change the tyres of a racing car in the pits in as short a time as possible.
Executives from the various MultiChoice divisions were on hand to provide the latest news. Jean Louis Acafrao of DStv BoxOffice, which launched mid 2011, told Screen Africa that take up of the service, Africa’s first satellite-based movie rental offering, had exceeded expectations.
“There is clearly a lot of pent-up demand for the service, which is available only to DStv Premium PVR subscribers. Our plans for the future will look at multiple devices. We work closely with the Hollywood studios in terms of our line-up of films. As one might expect, the comedy, kids and action genres do very well.
“The BoxOffice Online service, which is open to both subscribers and non-subscribers and allows people to rent movies either by streaming them or downloading them on their compuers, is in the Beta testing stage. This service will have many more titles (including classic titles) to choose from than the Premium PVR service, which has 15 titles at any given time.’
Acafrao noted that the take-up of DStv Desktop Player, which allows subscribers to download their favourite programmes, follows the same growth path as Internet take-up in South Africa. Desktop Player is an application that can be downloaded on PC and Mac and allows users to download their favourite shows.
DStv Mobile’s Maiyo Simapungula stressed that a priority for her division is expanding its social media activities on Facebook and Twitter.
“Most people would rather go onto Facebook and ask a question about our mobile service rather than go onto the DStv website,’ she said. “It’s all about convenience for consumers these days – what you want to watch, how you want to watch it and when you want to watch it.’
She noted that DStv Mobile’s latest product, the Walka Handheld TV device which was launched in December, has been very well received. “This is not only true in South Africa but also in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Namibia as well.
“We’re currently in development with exciting new products which will be announced later in the year,’ concluded Simapungula.
SuperSports biggest event this year will be the London Olympic Games. There will also be live and exclusive coverage of Euro 2012, the European Football Championships, the T20 Cricket World Cup, the Proteas’ tour of England, resurgent Pakistan’s tour of SA, plus some 125 Super Rugby matches, the all-new Rugby Championship, England rugby’s three-test tour of SA, plus the world under-20 championships.
“Every year just gets better and better,’ remarked Andre de Villiers, SuperSport’s marketing director. “The Olympics will be particularly special in High Definition – events like swimming, gymnastics and athletics are going to boast extraordinary clarity. We’re excited about our offering.’
SuperSport’s Olympic coverage will encompass three HD channels, one of them a 24-hour channel, plus four standard definition channels.
The highlight of the cricket year is the T20 World Cup, to be broadcast live and in HD from Sri Lanka, with a SuperSport crew on hand for interviews and news updates.
Upcoming locally produced programmes on M-Net include Idols Season 8, MasterChef South Africa, and Big Brother Africa, where contestants have to enter as a pair.
Programming on M-Net’s Afrikaans language channel kykNET includes Getroud Met Rugby, Boerk Soek “n Vrou and Fortuinsoekers.
M-Net’s local content channel Mzansi Magic is about to launch its first ever telenovella, Inkaba. The long running drama series Jacob’s Cross will also broadcast on the channel.
International programming on M-Net includes The Good Wife III, Private Practice V, Desperate Housewives VIII, Dexter VI, Modern Family III and MK Awards 2012.
Report by Joanna Sterkowicz.