BusinessTech questioned MultiChoice on whether the digital satellite pay-television business had upped the scale of repeated content on its channels in recent months. “MultiChoice is very focussed on providing our customers with great entertainment at value for money. Over the last year, our service has increased in value with many new channels and services being added just in the last year,” the group responded in a statement. By Gareth Vorster
“As you know, as recent as 1 October, we added additional channels, more HD channels, more SD channels in 16×9 and an improved movie offering.”
MultiChoice said it does not schedule programmes on channels on DStv. “We acquire ready-made local and international channels from channel providers. Each channel schedules new and recurring programmes according to a programme or movie’s license specification. MultiChoice arranges the channels into DStv packages and broadcasts the channels as they are.”
The group noted that programme repeats “are necessary as they address a need from consumers who want to catch-up on programmes they might have missed”.
It stressed that repeat programming is an industry issue. “Film and television studios produce a limited amount of programming each year. Hollywood, for example, only produces 1,200 hours of new movies annually but a single movie channel requires 8,760 hours per year,” it said.
The group continued that channels on DStv carry most Hollywood movies. Once a movie has completed its cinema and video run, the first television appearance is on M-Net.
“A 24 hour channel like M-Net schedules every hour, and block channels like the History Channel schedule 4 hour blocks which repeat within 24 hours of it premiering,” MultiChoice said.
While DStv viewers have expressed their displeasure at having to watch the same programming repeated in sequence, on various online platforms, MultiChoice said that channels like M-Net Series, and the M-Net Movie channels use multiplexing.
Multiplexing is a form of programme repetition that occurs when an entire block of programming is scheduled and then repeated in sequence on the same channel or on an alternate channel.
“DStv’s repeat rate is lower than in most countries around the world. The movie repeat rate is for example up to 60% lower than similar digital television platforms abroad like SKY and DirecTV,” MultiChoice said, citing Comsys as its source.
“Even though repeats are part of our industry, MultiChoice engages its channel suppliers on an ongoing basis on how to structure the schedules in a better way, in order to minimize repeats, where possible,” MultiChoice said.
“We also have performance contracts in place with all the channels on the DStv platform. We conduct regular research amongst our customers to determine customer viewership levels and enjoyment ratings of each channel. In South Africa, this research is done every two months,” it said.
Response from M-Net
MultiChoice said it also approached M-Net in this regard to provide a response as to their specific scheduling choices.
M-Net said its family of eight themed and dedicated movie channels caters for a wide and varied audience in South Africa and the rest of Africa.
“These viewers have different viewing patterns and preferences, and are also in different time zones. To cater for all viewers, M-Net Movies follows a cascading pattern of scheduling where a movie will move on timeslot at, for example, 6:30pm on a Monday, then 8:30pm on a Tuesday, then 10:30pm on Wednesday,” it said.
“M-Net Movies also screen movie festivals with Bond being a prime example. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of James Bond, starting on 6 October, we are screening the first 22 James Bond movies chronologically.”
“A different Bond title airs at 20h00 every evening on M-Net Movies Action+. Viewers need to be given the opportunity to catch-up on any screenings they may have missed. With this in mind, the Bond movies follow a cascading pattern, meaning the movie is available in a different timeslot the next day,” the digital tv operator said.