OTT Paralax180522

)»There is a time during the day where I am vulnerable to suggestion. That is if beyond noon you wind down the road to engage my intellectual faculties. My condition has nothing to do with whether my mind wonders or not. It is just that past twelve o’clock midday my mind tends to absorb what it should reflect. I remember the day I came to terms with this condition. Even though it comes in a grey tinted film I remember it clearly. Gape that’s the day I almost slid into whatever abyss awaits anyone whose life falls victim to suggestion and manipulation.«(  

It was in the afternoon. I was at work. Nodding-in and out of sleep as I was cropped in front of my desktop when I suddenly came out of a stupor that has been buzzing around my head for what might have been a couple of hours as I busied myself with admin; typical of a week following a working weekend. Something of an anomaly for a five day worker. Over time you carry around with you a whiff of fatigue.

There was just something odd about the instruction that appeared on my monitor. Apparently I was about to pay x amount of money to a Mrs. Someone I Did Not Know! An alarm whose sound was first let out in a whimper blossomed into a scream that stopped me from completing that transaction. I stopped, the cursor streaked away from the command as I slid my south paw away from the mouse. Suddenly, to my eyes, my bank’s website appeared all wrong. The graphics seemed washed-out and noticeably out of place. Panicky, I immediately logged out of my account. I then fumbled around the net, looking for my banks toll free number to report the incident.

*

‘You have been catphished sir.’ Said a man’s voice at the other end of the line after I had explained to him that I got an email to complete a payment to someone I did not recognise. Somehow it did not add up that I received such an email in the first place and initially it seemed to have been send by the bank. ‘Your suspicions are correct,’ the voice continued calmly ‘You don’t have to complete the transaction, because that transaction is a fake. We will never send you an email that asks you to log into your account. Sir, please log-out of your account immediately, you have been catphished. We will have to block your account as…’

That was just one episode amongst a few that reinforced my steely believe that anytime in any given afternoon is not a great time for me to do anything that demands clear thinking. Unless if I am off work in a sense of both where I earn my keep and where my sanity is restored.

So you can imagine how adept I have become in fielding telemarketers and unsolicited marketing emails including those that claim that a long lost Malome has left some inheritance for me; any creative’s fantastic dream!

Recently I have noticed that over the years, even when POPI (Protection of Personal Information) was introduced, telemarketers’ exploits went further into my vulnerability zone, calling me after four going to around six in the evening. That’s stealthy, skipping the afternoon that is, to pounce in the early hours of the evening. At home someone is bound to encourage you to take that call because it could be important. I cannot begin to imagine how many people with my condition have fallen into whatever snares establishments cast out there. I mean these days you get offered car insurance without even owning a jalopy.  

Now you may be able to imagine how I felt when I received a call from one of DStv’s consultants, just after five going to six in the evening. Straight-faced, I listened as the man informed me that there was an error committed by the satellite television provider wherein its selected customers’ accounts were activated with a three months free access to Disney+. This technical error, the agent went on apologetically, was committed by our technicians wherein selected DStv customers, who were selected randomly to be eligible for a free three months subscription to Disney+ if they subscribed via their DStv account, had their accounts activated by mistake.

At that moment I recalled that just out of interest in the then upcoming Disney+ streaming platform, I had submitted my cell phone number on their site so that I could be kept abreast of developments as the South African launch date neared. A process that registered my account with the platform. But no one ever called me nor did I receive any notifications or updates prior to the launch date. Although I thought that was strange, I carried on with life. Fortunately these days there are other ways to stay informed.

‘Mr. Kgokong we would like to apologise. It was a mistake on our part. We really thought the company that handled the launch, due to their international experience in the sector, would be able to handle the process smoothly. What it means now is that you have three months credit to stream Disney+ for free thereafter the platform’s premium will be added to your DStv account should you decide to keep the subscription active via DStv. We apologise for the inconvenience.’ He sounded genuine.

‘Well its ok,’ I started, ‘besides I am interested to explore this new platform and this is an interesting mistake that DStv has committed’.  This explained why after downloading the Disney+ app and failing to wait until month end before I subscribed to the platform, I logged-in using my registered cell phone number and I was surprised to discovered that my account was active. In my defence I really itched to experience the new platform’s user interface. Momentarily upon that discovery, I felt nostalgic and recalled the feeling that Mnet open time used to leave me with when transmission was cut-off to those without decoders.   

I had found out why my account was active. And I had also learned that it was not activated miraculously, it had been done ‘erroneously’. It had been active since 18 May launch date. It also dawned on me that I no longer had to take the risk of testing yet another video streaming platform through my shallow pockets. I had three months subscription to enjoy Disney+ for free. It was a cheerful man that parted ways with me that early evening. Not because I helped his case of being shouted at and reprimanded by wary customers for activating Disney+ account profiles for them via DStv without their consent. But because I did not dispute the activation. ‘Relax, some of the customers who have been given access to the platform for the next coming three months may decide to stay on.’ I opined cheerfully as we courteously ended the call.  

*

If you really think about it, the pre Disney+ launch date in South Africa is a interesting moment in the streaming race arena. It’s a crowded turf where Netflix, Amazon Prime, DStv (They have dropped the ‘Now’ from their name), Apple TV, Showmax, Netflix, Amazon, eVOD, Britbox, Accorn TV and numerous other smaller players vie with each other for a dominant share in the lucrative business of attention. So what will its unique features be when Disney+ finally arrives? This was the question that tormented me initially when I registered my account.

But wait for it. In an alternative realm, this erroneous activation of peoples’ account for a platform that they may have not subscribed-to nor have an interest in, indirectly serves as a reintroduction of DStv to its old customers; down-graders and cord-cutters alike, immersing seasoned video streamers, particularly defectors from DStv, in its wake via their cell phone numbers. Perhaps this might convince those who were about to jump DStv ship, to stay on. Concretely speaking what is valuable today is personal data. Such data holds, amongst other things we can’t get into here, the potential to create a client.  

Unless a stranger steps on our corns and behaves as if they know us from Phelindaba, we tend to be lenient when a relationship between ourselves and those who have access to our personal data is mutually beneficial. No matter how critical we may be about it, DStv has forged a deeper relationships with us. For now we will stay tuned. Perhaps after three months or so we may sing a different tune. Or the DStv Streama decoder would have arrived by then, kiosking all the streaming apps within one device. Is The War of The Streaming Apps on the horizon or we, those of us who are interested in the evolution of the telly, awakening to a raging war?

07 June

© mmutle arthur Kgokong 2022