There is the famous fable of how an opportunist steals a glass of water from under the noses of a pessimist and optimistic while they are busy arguing about who is right. I think it applies perfectly to the issue of OpenView attempting to block decoders being used outside Zimbabwe. People, including OpenView themselves, are busy trying to figure out whether the act is justified and right or it’s unfair and wrong they are missing the big picture here.
If you are wondering what I am harping about, yesterday we learnt that OpenView will be blocking access to decoders that are outside South Africa. Generally, that means those hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans with OpenView HD might wake up to find that their coveted decoders are now reduced to nothing but paperweights. To be honest, I am not sure that it’s possible to do what OpenView is claiming they can do.
Why not just expand?
Whether or not they can do it is not the point of this article. My point is they have a receptive and ready market in Zimbabwe already. People are so in love with their product they are willing to go to another country, buy a decoder, go through hoops to have it activated, take it to another country and install it. That is the sort of brand and customer loyalty marketers dream of. OpenView is essentially a company of marketers as they make most of their revenue from advertising so they ought to know better.
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Given all that why are they choosing to cut loose such a large following? The opportunists in them should be embracing this. At the very least they could just tacitly target the market by not disturbing the status quo. All they need to do is keep quiet and do nothing. They can even profit by selling ads targeting Zimbabweans. I remember in 2008 certain savvy Zimbabwean companies, individuals and organisations capitalising on the Wiztech and Philibao proliferation by advertising on eTV.
They can even do the formal thing, approach the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, kowtow before the powers be and hopefully get a licence as a reward for their submissive contortionism. This will allow them to have an even better presence in Zimbabwe. They can start selling decoders locally, keep a more accurate database of their customers and obviously boost their revenue.
There is a cost to doing this naturally but tentative evidence suggest that it will be far outweighed by the increase in revenue. Also, most shows are regionally licenced as opposed to just being licenced to South Africa it’s usually Southern Africa.
It’s a rather radical idea but for me, it seems like that natural next step for OpenView. How long do they intend to just stay in South Africa?