GMA Network’s Affordabox gets ‘overwhelming’ public response

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GMA Network expects to exceed sales estimates for the year for its two-week-old digital terrestrial television (DTT) receiver, called the Affordabox, after the public’s “overwhelming” response, said a network executive.

“We originally projected [to sell] 600,000 for this year but reception to the product has been overwhelming. We will definitely do more than our original projections,” Regie C. Bautista, GMA Network chief risk officer and first vice-president for corporate strategic planning, and concurrent head for program support, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview on July 6.

The Affordabox is the third DTT to launch in the country after ABS-CBN’s TV Plus in 2015 and Solar Digital Media Holdings Inc.’s short-lived Easy TV in 2018 which was discontinued in 2019.

In February this year, ABS-CBN reported that it had sold over 9 million of its digital boxes. But despite these numbers, GMA’s Ms. Bautista noted that many Filipino homes still haven’t switched to digital channels because of “restrictive pricing of existing branded digital receivers available in the market.”

Data analytics company Dataxis said that in 2019, 18.7 million Filipino households had televisions, a number expected to increase to 20.7 million by 2024.

When it was launched, ABS-CBN’s TV Plus was priced at P2,500 — the price was reduced to P1,499 by 2020. GMA’s Affordabox is priced at P888.

“Since we believe that every Filipino home should be able to enjoy digital viewing, we endeavored to come up with a quality product that is accessible to the majority of TV viewing homes,” Ms. Bautista said, before adding that the price and the box’s added features (it is also a multimedia player and personal video recorder) are what GMA thinks will set it apart from the competition.

Currently, the Affordabox has introduced one new channel — the Asian-centric Heart of Asia that features Korean, Chinese, and Thai dramas alongside GMA-produced titles like Amaya. It also has all the free to air channels such as PTV4 and TV5.

Ms. Bautista said the network plans to introduce “at least one to two more [channels]” within the year.

Before being ordered to shut down by the National Telecommunications Commission on July 1 because of the network’s expired franchise, TV Plus operated 10 channels aside from the main ABS-CBN channel: family-oriented Jeepney TV, Asian TV-centric Asianovela channel, O Shopping Network, English movie channel Movie Central, the all-day kids’ channel Yey!, Filipino movie channel Cinemo!, educational channel Knowledge Channel, the sports channel S+A, and DZMM TeleRadyo. It currently can only offer the free to air channels from GMA (including Heart of Asia), TV5, PTV4, etc. — Zsarlene B. Chua