Dakar to Durban, DTH is powering Africa’s TV revolution

In the words of Obiageli Ezekwesili, former World Bank VP for Africa, this is Africa’s “golden moment.” As economies around the world struggle with recession, no matter which metric you use, the nations of Africa are charging ahead. Investors worldwide have taken notice, and recognise the potential of this awakening giant,

Democracy is progressing as are the wealth and expectations of the people. A growing middle class is demanding better TV.

Population numbers speak for themselves – it’s a huge audience, motivating savvy TV providers to devise commercial models that work in this fast-growing market.

Over 300m Africans live at least 50km from the nearest fibre. The distances between urban areas can span thousands of kilometres. So satellite, with its blanket coverage – and reach that’s unfazed by mountain, jungle and savannah - is the natural home for TV.

Ambitious broadcasters are keen to beat their rivals to a market hungry for entertainment. And they are turning to SES to help them do it.

It’s not just pay-TV. Terrestrial players are looking to satellite to grow audiences in this vast continent. Last month, leading Chinese operator StarTimes - the fastest-growing digital terrestrial TV (DTT) platform in Africa with over 2.6m subscribers, chose SES-5 – at the flagship 5ºE African slot - to launch DTH across the continent. It joins fellow DTH converts Multi-TV in Ghana and free-to-view OpenView HD in South Africa.

Further demonstrating its commitment to DTH, StarTimes just acquired SES' 20% stake in South Africa’s TopTV, also relying on SES to host DTH and mobile TV south of the Sahara.

Platco Digital has also committed to SES-5 for its new free-to-air DTH and mobile TV offering for South Africa, with further expansion in its sights.

To reach new viewers in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and beyond, Zuku TV is migrating its DTH package from SES’ NSS-12 satellite to SES-5 by year-end.

In total, SES has no fewer than eight satellites beaming across the continent, with more to come. ASTRA 2G, SES’ upcoming satellite launching in 2014, will extend broadcasters’ reach further across West Africa.

SES has not stopped there in helping broadcasters face economic and technical challenges, “Connecting more than one billion people in Africa requires more than providing downlinks and uplinks” says Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, SES Senior VP for Africa,

“Africa may still be poor, but people demand solutions for their needs and they need it at the best possible price.”

Broadcasters are keen to offer African viewers the same high-quality consumer-friendly experience that audiences in more developed markets take for granted.

The home installation process is a key part of the customer offering - it has to be right the first time.

Repointing misaligned dishes is expensive – both in terms of cost as well as viewer satisfaction.

Ever the leader, SES was the first satellite provider in Africa to offer professional installer training, Broadcasters, and viewers, are reaping the dividends.

With offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Accra, Ghana, and a further site to open in Addis Abba, Ethiopia in 2014, SES has support teams where they’re needed..

Whether free-to-air or pay-TV, African DTH is now serious business. SES is helping turn the vision of African broadcasters – and consumers – into reality.