A. Three years ago, when we launched the new orbital slot, 19.2°E was already an established and successful DTH position with something like 800,000 Benelux homes tuned into its transmissions. We had to convince these viewers that it was worthwhile equipping their dishes with a Duo LNB. It was something we had never tried before, so I think you can appreciate the scale of the challenge. Our success was the result of a very close partnership between our customers, installers and hardware manufacturers.
A. The technology was crucial. Not only did the Duo LNB have to work flawlessly with both orbital positions, it had to work perfectly with the existing 60cm dishes most households were using, and it had to be easy to install. We worked closely with our installers to make sure the upgrading process was as quick and easy as possible, both for them and for consumers. Finally, the upgrade costs to the consumer had to be as low as possible.
A. We ran a series of consumer awareness campaigns in the press and on TV and radio to sell the benefits and simplicity of multifeed reception, and it worked very well. We are expecting new market research to show that between 60 and 70% of the total DTH population in the Benelux market is capable of receiving 19.2°E and 23.5°E, which is remarkably rapid growth in more or less three years.
A. Ultimately it boils down to content. Consumers expect the technology to be simple to install and easy to use, but they won’t change anything unless there’s a clear benefit for them, something they didn’t have before. In this case, more channels and access to high-definition programming.
We launched Dutch regional broadcasters on 23.5°E and worked in close cooperation with CanalDigitaal on a range of thematic channels and their first HD services for the region. Add to this the fact that there is no room for new channels at 19.2°E, but lots more programming to come from 23.5°E, especially HD services, then multifeed reception is a very worthwhile investment for consumers.
A. The new satellite is crucial to the continued success of 23.5°E. It is now Europe’s fastest growing DTH hotspot, and it needs new capacity - especially for high-definition channels - in order to continue growing. I’m happy to report that we have just finalized an agreement with M7 Group for two additional transponders at this position to serve the Netherlands and Flanders.
A. The new capacity will be used to extend the high-definition TV line-up of CanalDigitaal, the company’s DTH platform for the Dutch market. CanalDigitaal will launch a broad range of HD channels from mid-February onwards, including channels from the Dutch public broadcaster NPO, and commercial broadcasters RTL and SBS. In addition, Sport1 HD and Film1 HD will be added, featuring premium thematic programming.
The high-definition line-up for the Dutch market will more than double to reach 25 channels over the coming months, including all the free-to-air HD channels available via ASTRA.
A. Benelux is by far the biggest HD market on 23.5°E and the growth position for HD in the region. It is a key factor in audience growth for pay and free-to-air TV, and all the Dutch national public and private broadcasters will come on board with HD programming in the next few months. This will include premium pay-TV channels, but it will also go into basic one-off-payment options and low-pay packages. All this has been made possible by 3B.
A. There are very strong cable and terrestrial infrastructures in this market. However, the benefits of satellite DTH make it possible to compete with these infrastructures; this has enabled us to build and maintain a good market share. With 3B’s extended footprint and additional capacity, especially for new HD channels, it will allow us to grow and stay competitive.
A. This is already happening. Last year RTL Luxembourg moved to 23.5°E with a simulcast transition period from both orbital slots to give everyone plenty of time to make the necessary upgrades. In addition, CanalDigitaal has already migrated some of its services and I expect this to continue as household reach at 23.5°E is rapidly growing.
A. One of the most persuasive arguments is the ready-made audience that it will give them and the strong existing 23.5°E neighbourhood of standard and high-definition channels, and national and regional broadcasters. The great majority of satellite homes in the Benelux region are capable of receiving 23.5°E, so new customers get an immediate audience of over 500,000 households. 3B also has a strong pan-European footprint, which makes it very attractive to Benelux broadcasters wanting to reach outside the area, as well as non-Benelux customers who want to target this market.
And let’s not forget the many Dutch caravans and campers equipped with ASTRA reception equipment, travelling to various corners of Europe every summer. Thanks to the pan-European coverage of the ASTRA satellites, they can continue to receive Dutch programmes while away from home!
A. We began selling ASTRA2Connect on 23.5°E last year. There has been a very good response to the service so far and we’ve just signed up with a new reseller. We anticipate that ASTRA2Connect will continue to grow on 3B.