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New DSTV competitor to launch Christian-heavy, cheap service in May

New DSTV competitor to launch Christian-heavy, cheap service in May

On Digital Media, the new satellite television company that plans to launch during May as Top TV, will be doing so with 55 channels in its full offering (for R250 per month), and 20 channels plus the four free-to-air channels at R100 per month. And four Christian channels versus only three sport channels. You can just about hear DSTV sighing in relief.

We have seen the future, and it is this: DSTV will continue to dominate the high-end market populated disproportionately by sports fanatics, while newcomer Top TV will trust its bargain-basement prices to lure in those who are less rich. The company calculates that it’s entry bouquet, at R100, will be affordable for households with a total monthly income of as little as R3,000.

In what could be a smart move, Top TV’s parent company On Digital Media (ODM) isn’t even trying to compete with Supersport. Of its 55 channels at launch only three will be dedicated to sport. One of those, Fuel, covers only alternative sports like surfing or base jumping. Another, Euronews Sport, has a heavy focus on (not surprisingly) mainland European sport. A third is dedicated to soccer and pays much attention to the all-important British leagues.

In isolation that would be a strange choice, given that Top TV will be marketed almost exclusively to consumers in the LSM 5 to 8 spending bracket, where soccer is hugely popular while other sport types are less important.

Photo: ODM CEO, CEO Vino Govender.

But ODM is counting on the example of Sentech’s truly awful Vivid satellite service holding true. (If you’ve never heard of Vivid, that would be because it is an abject failure.) But by carrying several channels dedicated to Christian matters it built a very loyal following among the more religiously-minded, with recommendations for church pulpits acting as its primary marketing mechanism.

Top TV will launch with four dedicated Christian channels in it’s line-up, all of them part of the basic, R100 package: Top Gospel, God TV, Inspiration and one channel it will not yet name due to ongoing negotiations.

And no sight of a pornography channel. None. Ever. CEO Vino Govender described his shareholder’s attitude in rather firm terms, using words like “poison” for good measure.

Other attractions will be several channels dedicated to African music, a Nollywood channel, a Bollywood channel and Fox News, the controversial right-wing channel that celebrates every move of the US Republican Party. (And every other right-wing nut under the US skies. – Ed.)

Is that a winning formula? Perhaps. Top TV will be carried on the Sirius satellite, which is in a different part of the sky from the one used by DSTV. The same kind of dish can theoretically be used for both, but ODM recommends shelling out R350 for a slightly larger, 70 centimetre dish to combat rain fade and other causes of dropouts.

The company expects to break even when it reaches 380,000 subscribers, which it projects to do within 36 months of launch. After that, Govender says, it’s all profit. Then some of that money can be injected into new channels, such as an Afrikaans one that Top TV seems quite keen on.

To date ODM has spent R80 million of R1 billion in startup capital.

By Phillip de Wet

This is a full list of the channels Top TV intends to launch with, exactly as supplied by the company. ODM would not yet release a breakdown of what channels will be available under which bouquet.

Top TV channels:

150 Top One
Top One is a 24-hour general entertainment channel, bringing brilliant drama series, children’s shows, movies and quality South African classics.

350 Top Gospel
Top Gospel is a Christian lifestyle channel with talk shows, Christian music videos as well as faith based movies. A lot of the content on Top Gospel will be local, keeping it relevant for the community. 

351 God TV
GOD TV is a global media ministry founded by South African couple, Rory & Wendy Alec. GOD TV reaches nearly half a billion people, with award youth programming, inspirational and relevant Bible teachings and live Christian events from around the world.

353 Christian Channel
ODM is still finalizing negotiations on a Christian Channel, which shall be named in due course. 

352 Inspiration
Inspiration TV has become the fastest growing international Christian network in the world, servicing 118 countries throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. With a unique blend of programming sourced from America and Europe, Inspiration TV offers something for the whole family.

121 Zee Cinema
With the success of the Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, Bollywood has become a household name. With the most beautiful costume designs, song and dance sequels, gorgeous leading men and ladies and captivating plots, Zee Cinema brings Bollywood movies to our TV screens. 

120 Hi Nolly
The Nigerian film industry is fast catching up to Hollywood and Bollywood, with its own particular genre of programming. Hi Nolly features some of the best movies and entertainment from this market.

113 MGM
MGM is a 24 hour movie channel offering the best from Hollywood’s famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library. From Oscar winning favourites and modern masterpieces, to gems from Hollywood’s golden age and cult classics, the MGM Channel is for movie aficionados as well as those who want quality entertainment anytime of the day or night. 

400 BBC World
As a world leader in news, BBC World offers 24 hour news and information coverage from around the world. The channel broadcasts a diverse mix of international news, sport, weather, business, current affairs and documentaries. Providing impartial, in-depth analyses of breaking news, BBC World News also looks at the stories behind the issues

405 Fox News
Fox News is rated as one of the more controversial news challenges from the United States. Covering everything from world news and politics, to health and business as well as science & technology, entertainment and sports, Fox News is your one stop channel for news, views and everything else.

MSNBC is the leading voice on U.S television and is the fastest growing cable news channel in the United States. MSNBC goes beyond traditional news reporting, giving the viewer informative and up-to-the-minute content.

401 Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera English is the world’s first English language news and current affairs channel with headquarters in the Middle East. With studios in Doha, Kuala Lampur, London and Washington DC, its broadcasts feature current happenings as the world turns.

402 France24
France 24 covers international current events with a French perspective. The channel provides in-depth analyses on current events, with a strong emphasis on culture.

406 Current TV
Current TV features happenings and current affairs, particularly from a youth perspective. Must-viewing for the Y-generation

201 Setanta Africa
Setanta Africa is a 24-hour sports channel which focuses on the ‘beautiful game’. The sports channel covers Arsenal, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Tottenham in its weekly line up, as well as SPL, Russian and Dutch leagues.

220 Eurosport News
With news bulletins updated every 30 minutes, Eurosport News gives you the very latest from the world of sports and business.

160 SABC 1
SABC1 celebrates South Africa’s youth, with honest and positive programming.

161 SABC 2
SABC 2 reflects the multi-faceted nature of the modern South African family, with programming that reflects the country’s diversity.

162 SABC 3
SABC 3 is an adult contemporary channel targeted at LSM 8-10 viewers in the 25 to 49 year age bracket, with programming that aspirational and entertaining.

170 E-TV is famous for its free movies and special movie festivals as well as the popular Sunday night movie blockbuster slot. 

320 Educational Channel
ODM is finalizing discussions for the supply of an educational channel customized for the South African market. An announcement will be made when talks are concluded.

196 RTPi
RTPi is a general entertainment channel targeting Portuguese speaking communities worldwide.

452 Fashion TV
Fashion TV (FTV) provides glamorous entertainment with emphasis on the latest trends, up and coming models, events, news and glamour.

451 Fine Living Network
FLN is TV’s fun lifestyle network with a fresh lineup of new relationship, wedding, cocktail and competition shows. FLN: It’s entertainment you can use.

520 Music Choice (audio service)
Music Choice is a 24 hour channel audio service featuring music of different genres. From hip-hop and R&B, to classic rock and soul, there’s music for every mood, occasion and age


250 Top Junior
Top Junior provides high quality and creative entertainment for children and the entire family in a highly imaginative, safe and accessible way. Popular shows to look forward to include Maya the Bee, Bumba, Tabaluga and Heidi.

256 Jim Jam
JimJam is a TV channel dedicated to pre-school children aged between 1 – 6 years and their parents. Its high quality programming features some of the world’s best-loved pre-school TV characters, including Thomas & Friends™; Bob the Builder™; Barney™; Angelina Ballerina™ and Fireman Sam™. Trusted, inspiring and engaging, JimJam’s shows have been specifically created to contribute to the emotional, intellectual and social development of children.

257 Baby TV
Babies and parents. Baby TV is the world’s first round-the-clock commercial-free channel for growing infants and toddlers, and their parents. Baby TV is created in collaboration with childhood experts to promote learning, activity, fun, and parent-child interaction.

255 Kidsco
KidsCo is a global TV channel with something for the whole family! The channel targets different age groups through time scheduling. Signature shows include The Wiggles, Sonic the Hedgehog, Inspector Gadget, Sabrina, Dennis the Menace, New Adventures of Madeline and many more.

507 Afro Music
Afro Music is a 24 hour music channel featuring an eclectic mix of artists from across Africa.

506 Nigezie
Nigezie Is a brand new music and lifestyle channel with the main focus being on Nigerian artists, music videos, fashion and entertainment.

225 Fuel
FUEL TV is a 24/7 extreme sports channel featuring base-jumping, skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, BMX and other death-defying sports. 

501 Kiss
Kiss is a 24 hour music channel with a focus on urban and hip-hop music.

502 Kerrang
Kerrang! TV is a 24 hour music channel consisting of hard rock music videos. The channel features themed countdowns like ‘Moshing Anthems’, ‘A-Z of Punk’, ‘Today’s 10 Most Rockin’’ and ‘Metal: 87-07’.

503 Qtv
Qtv is a 24 hour music channel featuring indie bands and music. 

504 Magic
Magic TV features easy listening music videos from the 80s and 90s, with a large portion of daytime viewing dedicated to ‘Today’s Magic Hits’.

505 Smash Hits
Smash Hits is a music channel dedicated to popular hits from artists like Madonna, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

508 C Music
C Music provides viewers with the world’s finest classical, crossover, cinematic and chill-out music videos 24 hours a day.

509 Classica
Classica is a premium television channel devoted to classical music, opera, ballet and jazz as well as documentaries and interviews.


179 Star!
Star! Is an entertainment channel covering the glitz and glamour of Tinsel Town. Keep up to date with the latest in movies, celebrities, fashion, awards and Hollywood news on Star!

180 Fox Entertainment
Fox Entertainment is dedicated to the best television series, including The Simpsons, Family Guy, 24, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds and Boston Legal.

181 Fox Retro
Fox Retro is an entertainment channel dedicated to the most popular series that defined the 70s, 80s and 90s, which helped shape the pop culture and trends of today.

310 Natura
Natura is a 24 hour high quality documentary channel featuring documentaries from the world’s best directors and producers.

190 BET
Black Entertainment Television’ features the very best from African-American entertainers with series, talk-shows, sitcoms and interviews.

301 Top History
Top History is a 24 hour channel that offers the most memorable moments in history, with programming which includes South Africa and Africa.

303 Discovery ID
Investigation Discovery (ID) is the brand new channel from Discovery featuring the stories behind crime forensics and criminal investigations.

453 Discovery Travel & Living
Discovery Travel & Living explores the most fascinating and inspiring places on earth. The channel takes viewers to exotic and far-flung destinations.

302 Discovery Science
Discovery Science is a documentary channel focusing on programmes dealing with scientific and technological issues

301 Top Crime
Top Crime is a 24 hour entertainment channel with a focus on crime drama and suspense programmes.

300 Top Explore
Top Explore is a 24 hour channel which allows viewers the opportunity to explore the secrets and wonders of the world. Featuring strong stories, interesting people and high quality visuals.


112 Silver
Silver is a 24 hour movie channel with movies sourced from independent suppliers in the US, Europe and other parts of the world.

111 Showtime
Showtime is as 24 hour action channel with blockbuster titles covering action, horror and sci-fi.

110 Fox FX
Fox FX is quality television for men. With a mix of quality, character-driven and often unconventional drama and comedy, it has a strong resonance with male audiences. 

100 Top Movies
Top Movies is one of Top TV’s flagship channels. A 24 hour premium movie channel with recently released blockbuster titles and other award-winning movies.

101 Top Movies 2
Top Movies 2 is Top Movies time shifted by 2 hours. If you miss your favourite movie catch it 2 hours later on Top Movies 2. 

102 Top Movies 24
Top Movies 24 is time shifted by 24 hours. The channel gives the viewer the opportunity to catch up on Top Movies from the previous day.

200 Top Sport
Top Sport is a premium sports channel featuring sports preferred by SA audiences. It will bring South Africans the best of local and international sport as well as the latest sporting news


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