KUALA LUMPUR: Pay-TV broadcaster Astro All Asia Networks plc (Astro) is offering dual-options for its newly-launched B.yond PVR (Personal Video Recorder) as one of its current high-definition (HD) platforms.
Chief executive officer Datuk Rohana Rozhan said that the function would allow subscribers to record, pause, rewind and play television programmes broadcasted by Astro.
“The PVR feature complements the requirements of customers who are already subscribed to B.yond for RM20 per month. For the PVR functionality, there are two options. The first is the integrated PVR for RM10 per month, whereas for PVRs with an external disk drive, it’s RM5 per month,” she told reporters after launching B.yond PVR at Mid Valley Mall last Tuesday.
The integrated Astro B.yond PVR Box would have all its systems built in with a 500-gigabyte (GB) capacity, as well as the ability to record two different channels simultaneously.
According to Astro’s chief operating officer Henry Tan, current customers would have to pay an installation fee of RM300 for the new unit and return their old sets, while new customers would have to pay RM400.
“This is due to total re-wiring of the system to switch to HD,” he added.
For existing B.yond subscribers who prefer a simple setup, they could opt to buy their own external hard disk, plug it in and contact Astro to activate the PVR functionality.
“Currently, only the Western Digital My Passport AV 320GB model of external hard disk is compatible with the standard B.yond Box, but we’ll be looking at more models soon. The list of these authorised retailers selling the item can be obtained from Astro’s website at www.astro.com.my/beyond,” explained Tan.
Commenting on the dual-option, Rohana stated,”The external hard disk PVR is an alternative option for our integrated PVR, which is quite pricey at the moment due to the total installation requirements.
“Within the market forces, when the price for the product comes down, it will come down. So, we’re letting the customers have their own choice since it’s the external disk space that customers are paying for.”
Elaborating further, Rohana said the B.yond PVR could be seen as an enhancement to its Astro MAX platform, which was launched to limited customers in 2006.
“We have a special offer for our Astro MAX customers of about 26,000 subscribers, in which we’ll undertake to top up with the new PVR free-of-charge. Since they’re our loyal customers, we’ll also be giving them free subscription for the PVR service for 12 months.
“This PVR functionality is part of Astro B.yond’s platform and also, part of our terms and conditions to customers,” she pointed out.
Asked on how many customers Astro would expect to sign up for the B.yond PVR, Rohana replied in jest, “Everyone!”
“Actually, we benchmark ourselves against global experiences.
“If we look at global take-up rates for PVRs in Australia and the UK, it’s about a minimum of 50 to 60 per cent, while in the US it’s almost 75 to 80 per cent. However, these global platforms have had PVRs for at least five years to witness that kind of trajectory.
“We do have our internal targets. We’re looking at 500,000 customers for the Astro B.yond Box conversion and for the PVR, we’re targeting at least 100,000 customers by January 31 next year.
Asked on the numbers of B.yond subscribers so far, Rohana smiled and responded, “We’re on track to achieve our 500,000 subscribers target.” However, she also added that in order for the customers to switch onto B.yond Box, there had to be a reason to do so.
“We already have eight HD channels in the B.yond package.
By the end of this year, we’d have 10 HD channels.
On top of that, the upcoming 2010 World Cup will be in HD throughout.
As such, we’re increasing the level of content in HD in order to make them more relevant to customers.
“Complementing our HD platform is the PVR.
So the idea of this is to introduce more enhanced services and value-added features to create the demand for the overall B.yond platform,” she stressed.
As of January 31 this year, Astro gained some 284,000 net new customers, bringing its residential subscriber base close to three million customers.