Cell C’s blackBOX – The IPTV competitor to DStv
Cell C recently launched its Black media player – the blackBOX – which provides access to the company’s Black streaming service. Black offers live TV channels, subscription video-on-demand, and movie and series rentals and purchases. Its live streaming offering, Black TV, includes channels from Fox Africa, Sony, CBS Reality, TCM, True Movies, BBC, and Bloomberg.
Several sports channels are also on offer, while the on-demand offering includes a selection of local and international films and series. Fees for its video-on-demand service range from R10 per day to R99 per month, while a Black TV subscription is between R49 and R289 per month. Black’s “BINGE” packages – which include Black TV and on-demand video – are between R89 and R489 per month.
Standalone subscriptions to Fox are available for R99 per month, while subscriptions to the TV channels of Premiership football clubs are between R5 per day and R25 per month. These are also included in the top BINGE packages. Black is available through its website, apps for Android and iOS, and the blackBOX media player.
Thanks to the blackBOX, Cell C may have a proper Internet TV contender on its hands which will compete against the likes of DEOD, OnTapTV JustFlicks, and potentially DStv.
The blackBOX is a solid Android-based media box that retails for R1,499 through Cell C. It offers 1080p output, built-in Wi-Fi support, and the ability to pull data from Facebook and Twitter about movies or sports teams. It can’t record live TV or access third-party services like Netflix and Showmax as yet.
Included in the package is the blackBOX player, a remote with a full QWERTY keyboard, and an HDMI cable. Setting up the box was a breeze. We registered on the Black website and logged in with our credentials on the box after we connected it to a TV and Internet connection.
Signing into the Wi-Fi proved problematic, however, as special characters could not be used in the Wi-Fi password field. Cell C is investigating the issue to see what the cause is. Fortunately, the blackBOX has an Ethernet port – so we connected it via a standard network cable and were soon browsing Black’s BINGE Premium channel selection after it downloaded a firmware update.
The player’s remote control is light, the rubberised buttons work well, and it provides a satisfying tactile feedback. The electronic programming guide for only a few channels was populated at launch. On channels without a full guide, the blackBOX still displayed how far into a programme a channel was and when the next show was expected to start playing.
While all the details are not yet in place, it is clear Cell C wants to build a fully-fledged broadcast service with Black. Should it succeed in securing more sports rights – which Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said he will bid on – there are interesting times ahead for South African TV viewers.