PAY-television provider TopTV has introduced a prepaid platform for subscribers to pay for their satellite service, hailing it as a success.
The move to offer prepaid vouchers arose from the pay-TV provider’s turnaround strategy, as a considerable number of its 400,000 subscribers were not paying monthly fees due to financial constraints in some cases, TopTV said.
The first prepaid pay TV offering also placed the satellite service at an advantage in the South African broadcasting market, with talk of new channels emerging from state broadcaster SABC as a result of digital terrestrial television, which is soon to be implemented in SA.
Media analyst and Bizcommunity CEO Chris Moerdyk said the prepaid service was "an excellent idea" because of the South African market’s great understanding and appreciation of the concept of prepaid purchasing.
"Anything that allows consumers a wider choice has to be applauded. When you look at TopTV’s market, it has a considerable amount of people who may be nervous about making long-term commitments in these economic times," he said.
Mr Moerdyk said in order for TopTV’s prepaid offering to become a long-term success it was important to ensure the technology available to support it was adequate: "This will be technology-driven. If the technology is up to it, then it’s a brilliant idea, but if not, it may be a problem. But I see no reason why it shouldn’t work. The prepaid market is huge in SA and it’s unsurprising that TopTV would try this, " he said.
While TopTV has partnered with Pep and Blue Label Telecoms for the distribution and servicing of the prepaid vouchers, TopTV interim chief operating officer Kgomotso Lokela said the company’s aim was to eventually have vouchers distributed from 100,000 outlets, "anywhere that a person can buy airtime".
TopTV said the process of topping up subscription through the prepaid voucher took a maximum of four minutes, but that it would also depend on the quality of the user’s cellphone network.
Mr Lokela said many South Africans could benefit from the prepaid offering as they would no longer have to wait in queues to pay monthly connection fees.
TopTV’s senior vice-president, Marius Liebenberg, at a demonstration at Soweto’s Maponya Mall on Thursday, said: "Subscribers will be able to purchase this voucher at any convenient place in SA. Once purchased, they will dial the code on their phone, type in the voucher number and, following the message instructions, their TopTV connection will be done immediately."
The company’s interim CEO, Eddie Mbalo, said TopTV’s prepaid initiative was the first of its kind in SA and that it opened TopTV up to rural markets. T he model, also used in India, was perfect for the "prepaid-savvy" South African market.