Pep stores drop TopTV decoders

2012-07-12 10:19

In a blow for South African pay TV operator TopTV, Pep stores are dropping TopTV decoders from its stores.

Insiders told Channel24 that TopTV decoders at the stores “are not selling” and now the retail chain will be removing TopTV decoders from its shelves to make space for other merchandise.

This is a blow for On Digital Media (ODM), which operates the TopTV pay TV service.

ODM entered the market just over two years ago targeting lower- and middle-class TV households with an affordable, alternative subscription television service.

TopTV, which gained access to its target market through Pep and its 1 100 strong store network across South Africa, managed to quickly sell thousands of TopTV decoders over the first few months of its commercial roll-out when it started in May 2010.

PEP sold out its initial batch of thousands of TopTV decoders within the first two days when the pay-TV operator started.

Uptake was fuelled by ODM’s plan of heavily subsidising the TopTV decoder cost and fully subsidising the installation cost – eliminating the biggest single hurdle to pay-TV uptake, especially in this price-sensitive bracket.

No improvement

Since its launch, TopTV has, however, been plagued by customer care complaints and erroneous double-debit order runs and not adding any significant new TV channels to its family entertainment platform.

Add to this a disastrous attempt to add a porn channel bouquet, and no roll-out yet of PVR, HD channels or other technological consumer innovation after two years.

“Due to commercial reasons a business decision has been made to stop selling TopTV decoders due to space constraints and the introduction of other exciting products into stores,” said Pep in a statement, confirming that TopTV decoders are being dropped from the mass market retailer.

Pep will cease sales of TopTV decoders from October 1.

“PEP has been selling TopTV decoders for the past two years. More than 75 000 decoders have been sold during this time,” said the retailer.

“PEP still has a contract with TopTV and PEP will soon be selling TopTV prepaid vouchers as part of our financial services offering.”

When approached for comment about PEP’s decision, TopTV yesterday said in response: “We are available as usual, nothing has changed.”

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