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TopTV vs DStv

2010-05-03 10:04

It's not about which platform is better. It's not even about what you can afford anymore, since DStv announced its new package. It's about what you want.

It has been reported that all 50 000 TopTV units in stock were sold on Saturday, proving that there is indeed a demand for something other than Multichoice. While you're mulling over where you can get the best deal, let's remember that TopTV is not necessarily a chance for DStv subscribers to save a few bucks. If you insist on spending your weekend watching 27 different rugby matches, then I think you deserve to fork out R529 per month for the privilege. However, if you do have a few bucks to spare and you're hoping to escape SABC's incessant re-runs and that wrestling channel, etv, you for the first time have a viable alternative to DStv.

TopTV's biggest handicap is its lack of sport channels. This could change in the future once the platform gains popularity and momentum, but at the moment they're going to struggle to compete with SuperSport for the rights to broadcast games. So if you're a sport junkie, this is not for you.

Movie maniac? TopTV probably won't hit your sweet spot. Their movie channels are only available on the premium packages (R219 and R249 per month), and they aren't that great or current. Looking at the guide for May, the most recent flick is from 2007. I'd say M-Net is your best option here, but M-Net is only available on the DStv premium package. M-Net decoders aren't manufactured anymore, so unless your granny leaves you hers, you're pretty much suckered into paying the hefty R529 per month for good movies. 

TopTV is offering quantity. Movies from 2007 are still better that etv's 127th rerun of Independence Day on a Sunday night followed by a Jean Claude van Damme 'classic'. TopTV is the middle-man between the crappiest and coolest Movies channels.

etv had to survive the tough times by showing Baywatch from 1989 in 1999. Likewise, TopTV will have to cut its teeth on cheap nostalgia and variety.  However, with DStv's latest Lite package at R99, it's hard to decide whether the underdog or the big boy is going to serve you better in the long run.

These are the channels available on TopTV's R99 package:
Al Jazeera, MGM, BBC World, Mindset Learn, Current TV, Music Choice, MSNBC, EuroSport News, ftv, Fine Living Network, Fox News, France 24, GOD TV, Hi Nolly, Inspiration Network, Zee Cinema, Top One, Setanta Sport, Top Gospel, RTP, SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3 and etv.

There are the channels available on DStv Lite for R99:
TCM, Magic World, Africa Magic +, Zone Reality, Soweto TV, The Home Channel, ftv, SuperSport Blitz, SuperSport Action, Mindset Learn, TBN, Channel O, Rhema TV, Islam Channel, BBC World News, CNN, Al Jazeera, Parliamentary Service, CNBC Africa, SummitTV, Weather24, SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3 and etv.

There are some channels available on both, and obviously the DStv package wins in the sport stakes. But TopTV's most significant channel is probably Current TV, a citizen journalism channel which features content provided by the viewers. Former US Vice President and environmentalist Al Gore is the chairman of Current TV, and he attended the launch of TopTV to laud the arrival of competition in the pay TV market in South Africa. It's blatantly obvious that TopTV's arrival on the scene has lead to the lowering of prices, which makes you the winner in every respect.

Al Gore's right; people do want choice. Whether you feel more comfortable remaining with an established company like Multichoice, or you are excited at the prospect of finally being able to do some serious channel surfing thanks to TopTV, there is - at last - something for everybody. 

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