TopTV goes prepaid to lure subscribers

2012-08-17 08:22
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – On Digital Media (ODM) which operates the TopTV pay-TV platform in South Africa officially launched its TopTV prepaid voucher system, hoping to recapture many of the disconnected TopTV decoders as well as to win new subscribers.

TopTV's interim CEO Eddie Mbalo explained that it will now be using Pep Stores and Blue Label (the largest distributor of prepaid cellphone airtime in South Africa) as retail distributors.

"Now you can buy your TV like you buy your electricity," said Mbalo who said that TopTV is "reconfiguring the model for pay-TV" by introducing the TopTV prepaid voucher system as a South African first.

Grow subscriber base

The TopTV prepaid voucher system was delayed by over a month due to retail issues, but the first vouchers were already sold on Monday.

TopTV wants to get Spar as well as South Africa's four biggest commercial banks on board.

They also want to renew the effort to grow their subscriber base by capturing the unbanked market, those who don't want pay-TV contract accounts because of the lack of money to make monthly debit orders feasible, and recapture the massive number of deactivated former TopTV subscribers who already have decoders, but who are not using them.

Want to reactivate subscribers

TopTV said the pay-TV operator is focusing strongly on subscribers and potential subscribers living outside of main urban centres and television viewers in the lower income bracket.

Subscribers can use their cellphones – or even someone else's cellphone - to input and activate a voucher and their TopTV decoder since the decoder's smart card number is keyed into a cellphone with the voucher number.

TopTV prepaid vouchers will be available at 6 000 retail outlets countrywide; TopTV plans to increase it to 100 000.

"We have in the region of 400 000 TopTV decoder boxes out there," said Mbalo, "and in many instances people can't pay month to month or don't have money in their bank account when the debit order is activated. We want to reactivate those customers."

TopTV prepaid vouchers are available in two "denominations": R109 for a 30-day period for the Variety package, and R279 for a 30-day period for the Ultimate package.

The Ultimate package has 62 channels. These two packages are the lowest (cheapest) and highest (most expensive) two bouquets TopTV offer out of its tiered channels' offering. TopTV said 80% of its existing active subscriber base on contract is on one of these two packages and that the company therefore decided to start off by offering these two on a prepaid basis.

SMS reminders

The two types of vouchers each cost R10 more than what normal contract subscribers pay since TopTV has to include an administration and distribution fee to pay resellers who offer the vouchers on their behalf.

A bought voucher must be used within a period of 3 years. TopTV prepaid customers will get a SMS reminder 5 days before their 30-day package is due to expire so they can buy a new voucher. They will get a second SMS reminder 5 days after their 30-day package has expired.

There's no reconnection fee between recharges and no hidden costs. Recharge instructions are simple and a help menu is clear and has several options.

TopTV said the TopTV prepaid voucher system also frees subscribers from calling the call centre (although they still can). "Many subscribers and ordinary consumers simply don't have the money to be on the line with a call centre," said Mbalo.

TopTV prepaid subscribers can upgrade from the Variety package to the Ultimate package anytime and will get an automatic subscription days remaining extension. Subscribers can also downgrade from Ultimate to Variety, although only at the end of the current 30-day period.

TopTV also hopes that it will alleviate pressure on the TopTV call centre, but said TopTV isn't downsizing or doing away with its call centre. "It's merely another option."

Working on new strategies

"We're taking our position as a market disruptor very seriously and we will be introducing a number of market firsts besides the TopTV prepaid voucher system in the next few upcoming months as South Africa's 2nd pay-TV player," said Mbalo.

"The vast majority of South Africans live far away from banks and urban centres," said Kgomotso Lekola, TopTV's chief operating officer (COO). "So if TopTV wants to enter into transactions with them, we wil have to make it easy, hence the prepaid model."

Mbalo said TopTV has been looking at its entire pay-TV business, operational model and management and that it has implemented a turnaround strategy which is currently being carried out.

"The first major part is making TopTV accessible to TopTV subscribers. We conducted focus groups and questionnaires and we took a serious look at what is the content that our subscribers want and are looking for, and we're working on new content strategies to serve our subscribers' needs."

*Do you think TopTV wil gain more subscribers by implementing this system? Write us a letter and get published!


  • clive.little.96 - 2012-08-17 08:40

    Would we be seeing live sport on top tv other wise most people would not reconnect.

      grant.logan.94 - 2012-08-17 09:28

      Sport would be a big draw card and actual competition. Still the best option at the moment is ucapped internet. - 2012-08-17 10:55

      They must get more descend channels ( Sport ) and people would flock to them as DSTV is a rip off at R654 per month for most channels you don’t watch.

      preshen.govender.90 - 2012-08-17 11:59

      Is there an option for porno?

  • walter.milsom - 2012-08-17 09:46

    What will the Variety package consist of.Will it have sport coverage.??

  • wayne.hardaker.3 - 2012-08-17 10:06

    This is great, pity I cancelled mine cause of the utter rubbish they showed, over and over and over and over and over again. I disconnected for 3 months, re-activated it only to find the same shows and episodes still showing, lol.

      thechrisberryshow - 2012-08-18 08:14

      tell me about it! - I disconnected my DSTV PVR for 9 months, reconnected only to realise the line up hadn't changed and I had already PVR'd 80% of what I wanted to watch previously. It's now disconnected for over a year, and I spend the money on uncapped ADSL rather. Much happier

  • Henry.E.S.Moorcroft - 2012-08-17 10:11

    I've been with TOP Tv since they started...and enjoyed the channels very much. What I liked about them is that you can watch you normal series shows (Boston Legal, Dead like me) without any ad channels perfect.... Then it started.....REPEATS , REPEATS.....I canceled my subscription 1 years ago. Yesterday I received an SMS telling me about this new system but first I checked out the current programming on their website on all the channels...and.....All the shows I watched a year ago and series are still the same sorry, nothing NEW is on...don't waste your money... If you are going to be a NEW subscriber go for it. Worth it for only the first year....until they bring out new show I'll definitely use the SMS system then...but not now. Top Tv I'll look out for your ads on TV to lure me back with new FRESH shows.

  • quartus.vanzyl - 2012-08-17 12:21

    If you show rubbish ( and re-broadcast it over and over again), it will not make any difference ..people wont use top tv..prepaid vouchers are just a gimmick and wont fool people. Show proper programs (and no re-broadcasts ) and people will return to top tv. This also goes for the bancrupt SABC and M-NET.

  • anakin.skyvader - 2012-08-17 12:35

    Can TopTV PLEASE complain to the competition commission/tribunal to have DSTV's monopoly on PVR's lifted? They convinced govt.(through their corrupt buddy-buddy connections) to have DVD-recorders banned in SA, as it competes directly with their PVR system, for which you HAVE to pay R65/month with no way to get ANY content off it (because DSTV says so..) We are sick & tired of the bully tactics that DSTV employs to maintain an unfair advantage over their competition. The last time I checked it was a free market economy, or isn't it? DVD Recorders and Multichoice/DSTV ================================== 1. DVD - HDD Recorders and DSTV 2. DVD RECORDERS BANNED IN SOUTH AFRICA ? 3. LG digital TV DVD recorder .... UK [ but NOT allowed in SA ]

      DSBennie - 2012-08-17 15:06

      here is one in South Africa though to disprove your argument

      anakin.skyvader - 2012-08-17 16:09

      @DSBennie: LG HEAD OFFICE informed me that they are no longer able to import DVD recorders into SA. Therefore, any left-over stock that may still be available will just be at a particular retailer branch. The retailers can't re-order these items from LG to replace their stock once they are sold out. Contact LG's head-office branch and find out for yourself.

  • janine.wilson.560 - 2012-08-17 13:20

    I am sure 95% of DSTV Subs will move over to TOPTV if they offer live sports cricket,rugby,soccer,tennis etc. We are sick to pay R650 p/m just for the sports channels. TopTV will get almost all DSTV subs + whole lot more with affordable package with live sports R299/R349 p/m

  • phinda.buthelezi - 2012-08-17 13:34

    NO where does TopTV talk about New TV channels added to their offering. its like they are working on teh symptoms and not the disease. PPL left TopTV cause of the crappy channels and content offered not bcoz they could not get places to pay the subscriptions. NXA

  • phathuchicos - 2012-08-17 13:36

    You know what TopTV's biggest problem is? Not listening to what people want. We want SOCCER, RUGBY, MOTO GP, BASKETBALL, WRESTLING AND CRICKET dedicated channels bundled with their low subscriptions...then we'll flock to them like birds migrating. And not to forget the choice of choosing channels that you like.

  • jcoetzee1975 - 2012-08-17 14:15

    Take DSTV to courts for monopolising sport, get your share of the cut and bingo!! you have a client base.

      DSBennie - 2012-08-17 15:10

      Sports broadcasting works on a rights system, it is not a monopoly cause anyone can bid for it, TopTV is more than able to secure the rights to sport if they were willing to spend the money to get it

  • Shani Pretorius - 2012-08-17 23:34

    I heard somewhere, a while back, that Supersport has bought and paid for rights to all the major sporting events for the next few years and that's why TopTV can't get any of the rugby, soccer, etc people want - they'll only be in a position to bid for those rights in a few years time. Don't know if it's true though.

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-08-18 00:13

    I would say that it is clear that what viewers want is porn and sport.

  • ansie.vanrooyen.3 - 2012-11-04 22:10

    Hey I would like to know where can I buy the vouchers for toptv (pre paiD)? Thank you

  • sfisolloyd.mnguni - 2012-11-28 05:53

    Yes top tv would definetle gain more than an expected subscribers and customer according to your customer relation and business stratagy by implimenting this new easiest way of paying their channels becouse we as people we don't like to hold on Q lining for paying sumething coz those people working on tills they also working slowly and they use to be bussy talking their stories while we waiting on line like we going for Election vote lines.and according to my anderstanding we will buy this voucher anytime and u can even buy two for other month then by that month you won't go to holed line you take take the other for me Lloyd Mnguni my thumb is up

  • rajeshzn - 2013-01-21 15:56

    Excellent idea

  • Etienne Benade - 2014-08-16 14:04

    without sport channels you will remain dormant.

  • pages:
  • 1