Huge changes coming to streaming platform DSTV Now

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MultiChoice plans big changes to its video-on-demand by providing a new design to DStv Now, through its streaming version of its satellite service, and new local content for its stand-alone VOD platform Showmax.

According to MultiChoice Africa Group’s Connected Video unit, Niclas Ekdahl, who spoke to TechCentral on Friday, Ekdahl said MultiChoice is working to make big user interface changes to DStv Now to make it easier and quicker for subscribers to surface relevant content. “We are going to build video on demand that is really effortless for consumers,” he said. “We’re not there yet, and there is a long journey ahead of us, but we will get there.”

A key priority, is harnessing user data to deliver content to viewers that is “relevant on an individual basis”. He conceded that DStv Now is “a little too clunky” and that this “needs to be fixed” to ensure viewers can find what they want with the minimum hassle.

The group’s plan to launch a “dishless”, or streaming-only, version of DStv next year, but declined to comment on the plans in this regard. Currently, DStv Now is a value-added service for DStv satellite subscribers, but MultiChoice plans to make it a standalone product, too, in 2019.

He also suggested that a 4K version of DStv Now is not imminent, with development teams focusing most of their efforts on improving the user experience first. DStv Now offers some channels in up to 1080p quality, though it employs “adaptive bitrate” streaming, meaning those on slower or mobile connections will get a less bandwidth-intensive experience.

“We are constantly looking into it,” Ekdahl said of the group’s 4K streaming plans. “I want to bring down the lowest bitrate to make it more affordable on mobile, while at the same time making sure we are delivering the top-notch quality people are asking for.”

As for Showmax, which was merged into MultiChoice last year (it was previously a stand-alone business in the Naspers group), Ekdahl said there are plans to develop more original programming. Showmax is said to be launching a new South African series, a murder mystery called The Girl From St Agnes, soon, following the success of the comedy, Tali’s Wedding Diary.