In celebration of World Television Day on 21 November, MultiChoice reflects on the device that has single-handedly shaped this new frontier in broadcasting and revolutionised the TV experience for millions of viewers around the world – the satellite TV decoder.
Tasked with descrambling encrypted signals that have bounced from satellite to satellite around the globe, decoders literally bring a world of entertainment right into our living rooms.
However, just as technology has evolved to bring us these innovative devices, so decoders too have transformed over the years to keep pace with technological advancement.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the development of MultiChoice’s trailblazing satellite TV decoders.
These newer generation decoders will mark the culmination of 23 years of MultiChoice being at the cutting-edge of digital broadcast innovation.
That journey began with the launch of the first DStv decoder in 1995 – a pioneer in its field that offered digital satellite TV of European digital video broadcasting standards.
Eight years later, MultiChoice followed this up with the first dual view decoder in the world, which allowed two different channels to be viewed simultaneously on two different TVs in the same home.
Roger Gertze at MultiChoice, says three years after this first Standard Definition (SD) PVR was introduced, MultiChoice launched a breakthrough innovation in its first high-definition PVR.
“That year, 2008, marked a real turning point in our DStv service offering, with the launch of our original high-definition PVR. This decoder was responsible for delivering the first-ever high-definition content via a satellite TV service to sub-Saharan Africa, beginning with the Beijing Olympics,” he explains.
The DStv viewing experience was elevated to an entirely new level in 2013 when MultiChoice introduced its first Explora decoder.
In addition to recording, pausing and rewinding live TV, this decoder offered viewers a CatchUp service, to discover hundreds of extra DStv Catch up titles – all downloadable straight to their DStv Explora to watch in their own time, as well as BoxOffice, to download the latest blockbuster releases to their TV sets.
This flagship DStv decoder did not only make waves among MultiChoice customers, but within the broader technology market as well. Popular tech magazine, Stuff, named it TV Gadget of the Year in 2016.The Explora was also named one of the Most Beautiful Objects by the South African Design Indaba in 2015.
With the Explora occupying such a prominent place in the market, MultiChoice turned its attention to digital devices.
It had long recognised the future potential of using mobile devices to access TV programming, and after much research launched its first mobile decoder for Android.
This would later evolve into DStv Now, the company’s current livestream product that enables DStv customers to watch DStv online from any digital device.
These decoder innovations point to consistent efforts to enhance the TV viewing experience for satellite TV customers in Africa.
This is important, given that satellite TV is expected to continue playing a significant role in the lives of African consumers in the near future.
The satellite dish has come to symbolise wealth and aspiration in Africa, and this – a long with their decoders that bring the magic of modern TV home – is not going to change anytime soon.
“Technology has always played a major role in our business; it’s part of our DNA,” says Gertze.
“Increasingly, as we look to the future of news and media organisations, technology will continue to be a key focus area, because for broadcasters, technology is a vital enabler.