SES in Turkey - an exclusive interview with Norbert Willems and Ahmet Eren

SES Turkish office address: Maya Akar Center Buyukdere Cad. 100-102 C Blok No: 4 34394 Esentepe-Şişli İSTANBUL

SES opens new office in Turkey

One of the key strategies of SES is to grow into more regions and work closely with its customers and partners to drive mutual growth and success and to enhance the offering as well as services to the markets and end-users. As SES embarks on a new journey in Turkey, we caught up with Norbert Willems, Vice President Sales Central Western Europe and Ahmet Eren, Sales Manager for Turkey, in an exclusive joint interview to talk about Turkey as a flourishing DTH market and its global scope.

Q: From the perspective of a leading satellite operator how do you see the Turkish satellite market evolving?

Ahmet Eren: The Turkish market is a very strong free-to-air market with a lot of potential for the future.  Especially when we look at the number of channels already broadcasting; there are more than 250 channels originating from Turkey including the regional channels. TV advertising revenues have been growing remarkably and will continue to do so for the coming years. Currently the amount is around 1.5 b$ estimated to reach around 20 b $ in the 2020s.

Turkey has roughly 18 M households with more than 50 % of the population being under 30 years old. Satellite reception is received in more than 60 % of households that reaches more than 10 M households. Most of them even have 2 or 3 satellite dishes per house which makes the Turkish TV market satellite friendly with a very developed satellite industry ecosystem.

International content that is being broadcasted to Turkey is also significantly increasing. The popularity of HD TV is on a rise with the sale of HD ready TV sets ramping up in the country. At the moment Turkey has 5 M HD TV homes.

As a global satellite operator we see great potential in the Turkish TV market. All the above mentioned facts and figures give us the opportunity to bring our expertise, growth capacity, quality and innovation to the country which has very rich TV content which can only grow more. Having said that, we are also aware of the fact that Turkey already has very strong players and we as a leading satellite operator are up for the challenge. As an organization, we need to be patient and try to find the right partners to get into the market and that is what we are constantly working on.

Q: The strong economic development will benefit the TV industry in Turkey – the FTA market will outperform DTH Pay TV, what are your thoughts on this?

Norbert Willems: Turkey is a very strong FTA market just like Germany in this sense. Pay TV subscribers are roughly 5 M which is 28 % of total households. FTA market is already outperforming Pay TV market and will continue to do so. However, innovative business models can lead more penetration of Pay TV subscribers in the market especially around HD. Innovative business models such as HD+ in Germany could potentially also work in Turkey.    

Q: Do you think the Turkish TV content will gain the attention of programmers outside the country?  How would you define the scope of Turkish television globally?

Norbert Willems: Today Turkish content is one of most popular content in the region and is also telecasted in many other countries in Balkans, Middle East and also in some South East Asian countries. The TV series produced in Turkey made export revenues of around 80 M Euro in 2011 and is estimated to reach 100 M Euro by 2013. For the future this might even turn into a new business opportunity for these channels instead of selling the series they might want to replicate their channels in other languages in other markets which can lead to a very significant opportunity for us as a global operator to carry these channels on our satellites in the region and elsewhere around the world.

Q: Currently how many channels do SES satellites carry in Turkey?

Ahmet Eren: We started to be more proactive in Turkey since 2011 Q3. We started with  our first customer on our 31.5 East Astra 1G satellite, Istanbul FM TV targeting Turkey with 2 TV and some radio channels since September 2011. Since then we have signed 2 other contracts with Samanyolu Media Group and state broadcaster TRT. We are promoting 31.5 E as a secondary position to the broadcasters and digital platforms in Turkey.

Q: With the launch of the new Astra 5B, how do you envisage the growth of DTH in the region?

Norbet Willems: ASTRA 5B to be launched in Q3, 2013 will bring more capacity to Turkey and the region for DTH from 31.5 degrees East. That will definitely help us to grow our business covering the whole region with one wide beam.

ASTRA 5B will also bring very good capacity for feeding DTT towers during the analog switch off period which should be completed by 2015. This will provide us the opportunity to grow our business in Turkey.

Q: You must be excited about SES’ collaboration with TRT Turk, Europe’s largest broadcasting platform. Please tell us more about it.

Ahmet Eren: Being a truly global operator we have the advantage that our fleet covers 99% of the world’s population. We have started carrying Turkish channels outside of Turkey with one channel, Samanyolu TV part of a very large media group in Turkey, broadcasting to Africa on 5 E at the end of 2011 and we are doing the same  with TRT Turk deal on 19.2 E.  We are hoping to get more deals in the near future to carry Turkish channels in Europe but also to Africa, Middle East, L. America and South East Asia.