e.tv to launch streaming service Openview Plus

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Watching TV during lockdown. (Photo: Getty Images)
Watching TV during lockdown. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • e.tv will launch a video streaming service, Openview Plus in October.
  • The service will carry the Openview channels and content as a direct-to-consumer offering.
  • The company also plans to launch Openview Connect as a new broadband internet service.

Seven years since it launched as a free-to-air service, e.tv now plans to extend its Openview satellite-TV offering and to launch Openview Plus in October as a video streaming service in South Africa.

Openview Plus will carry eMedia's Openview channels and content as a direct-to-consumer offering funnelled through the internet, and will very likely be available as a bundled-offer together with Openview Connect that eMedia plans to launch as a new broadband connection service.

No specific launch date for Openview Plus is known, nor pricing, but eMedia Investments wants to expand and augment its existing Openview satellite-TV footprint as soon as possible into the streaming service arena where it will compete with the likes of MultiChoice's Showmax, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and some smaller services like VIU that are all available in South Africa.

Several other international streamers like ViacomCBS Networks' Paramount+, Disney's Disney+, and WarnerMedia's HBO Max are not yet available in South Africa but are likely to launch and join the OTT fold in time.

MultiChoice just launched Showmax Pro as an upsell-offering that bundles Showmax with SuperSport content, and plans to offer streamers like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on its new DStv Explora Ultra decoder.

Khalik Sherrif, eMedia Investments CEO, says in the latest 2020 eMedia Holdings annual report that "by October 2020 the group will launch its own over-the-top (OTT) offering called Openview Plus". According to Sherrif, "Work on this offering is happening in earnest as this report is published".

The Openview satellite-TV service, which is now available in 2 million TV households across Southern Africa, carries self-packaged channels beside e.tv like eExtra, eMovies, eMovies Extra, eToonz, eReality, eRewind and eAfrica, with carriage agreements for some channels that are also available on pay-TV operators like DStv and StarSat - the South African branded affiliate of China's StarTimes.

Some e.tv content is also licensed to the VIU streaming service which will become a direct rival for Openview Plus, and it's not clear how launching Openview Plus might affect that content availability, with eMedia possibly electing to keep its premium locally-produced soaps and series for itself.

It's also not clear whether Openview Plus will be a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) model where users will have to pay to watch, or if it will go the advertiser-funded "freemium" route of NBCUniversal's recently launched Peacock streaming service in America where consumers have to watch a number of adverts per hour.

Openview Connect

About its plans to launch Openview Connect as a new broadband internet service – a utility service that will help to carry and funnel its Openview Plus content – Sherrif says it will expand eMedia's technology offering and target South African households that don't have internet fibre connections yet.

"Openview Connect will be an advancement in the technology-based offerings of the group. Openview Connect is set to launch in the next few months," says Sherrif. "The target market for this offering is homes in South Africa that have no access to fibre as yet."

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