Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Broadcasting group eMedia Holdings, which owns television station e.tv and 24-hour news channel eNCA, will pump more money into its fledgling Openview free-to-air satellite television platform as it prepares itself for digital migration.

Writing in eMedia’s annual report released on Friday, CEO Andre van der Veen said the group would specifically increase its content investment in the Openview platform in the 2019 financial year.

He disclosed that a news channel would be launched on Openview during the last quarter of 2018 and a block of Afrikaans programming, including news and current affairs, would be launched in the first half of the new financial year.

Van der Veen noted that while these programmes and channels would be loss-making in the beginning, the initiative formed part of the content that was required to promote set-top box uptake and viewership.

Openview broadcasts e.tv’s multichannel offering, eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra, eBella and eToonz. Van der Veen said Openview attracted about 3.5% of the television audience in SA, with the break-even level estimated to be about 6%.

The annual report disclosed that Openview (inclusive of the e.tv multichannel business) generated advertising revenue of R60m and incurred content costs of R173m.

Operating costs, including retail subsidies of R74m, topped R255m, resulting in a net operating loss of R367m (last year: a loss of R395m).

Van der Veen said Openview set-top box activations continued to grow at an average of 35,000 per month.

He said that at the end of March 2018 Openview had activated almost 1.15-million set-top boxes (2017: about 780,000).

Van der Veen said the investment by eMedia, which has large investment companies Hosken Consolidated Investments and Remgro as its major shareholders in Openview, provided strategic flexibility.