Top three ways SES tailored its Direct-to-Home offer for Kiwisat
Just months after Hurricane Irma levelled the island of St Martin, Kiwisat launched its direct-to-home service. Prior to Kiwisat, the people on the island had very few options for TV entertainment. Those services that were available were costly, and service was often interrupted—potentially for long periods of time—because the terrestrial infrastructure used to transmit the TV signal was damaged or destroyed by tropical storms.
Kiwisat launched its service in the first quarter of 2018. Its mission was to provide the first high-quality, low cost pay-TV offer available over the Caribbean. It wanted to provide a reliable service that wouldn’t have customers paying while experiencing long outages due to the region’s long, and often very destructive, hurricane season. It offers three service packages to subscribers, including a good international channel offer with channels like HBO and Max Prime, and content in both English and French. The packages range from $19 to $29 a month, providing access to more than 130 channels, including 80 in Ultra HD. Today, Kiwisat has more than 5,000 subscribers in St. Martin, and will extend its service to Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands in 2019, on its quest to gain 100,000 subscribers across the Caribbean.
We spoke with Ricardo Flores, SES’s Sales Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, about how SES differentiated its offer from the competition.
Q: What do you think made Kiwisat choose SES?
A: At SES, we take the approach of truly partnering with our customers from the beginning through to helping them realise their business objectives. Kiwisat chose SES because of our winning combination of the right coverage, the right support, the right training, and our focus on customer needs.
Q: What does it mean to have the right coverage for Kiwisat?
A: The first step to launching a satellite TV service is to ensure you have the right coverage over your region. SES launched the SES-10 satellite in March 2017 on the first reusable SpaceX rocket to carry a commercial payload. Designed for the specific needs of broadcasters in Latin America and the Caribbean, SES-10 transmits in Ku-band with high power levels, so customers can use small antennas of 90cm to receive their TV signal. This means that the signal suffers little to no disruption during the severe weather conditions that are common in this region. The satellite has a minimum service life of 15 years, ensuring the longevity of customer services. Located at 67°W, SES-10 provides coverage over Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, with good elevation angles to ensure customer antennas can always find the satellite.
Q: How has SES supported Kiwisat?
A: Kiwisat’s CEO Andrew Wong first approached our team at a tradeshow, and we have worked hand in hand to develop the DTH service ever since. On the technical side, we worked with Kiwisat to define its requirements, and ran numerous simulations to strike the right balance between Quality of Service and cost. The simulations included calculations incorporating a wide range of variables and parameters, including antenna size, power levels, and weather severity. Our team of engineers and experts helped Andrew and his team determine the right specifications for the set-top box, and encouraged them to implement the latest HEVC compression technology to future-proof the service and avoid costly upgrades down the road. Uplink for the service is handled via an SES partner in Miami, and the three companies maintain a close partnership—often with all three on the phone working together to quickly solve any unforeseen hurdles.
On the marketing side, SES reviewed their marketing plan to launch the beta service on a small Caribbean island, before extending the service across the region. Kiwisat launched in St Martin with English and French content, to reach the maximum number of viewers. It will add Spanish-language content in March 2019 as it extends its services to Puerto Rico via its reseller programme, as well as opening regional offices in Jamaica and the Virgin Islands.
Q: Why is installer training so important?
A: At SES, our extensive experience has proven that no matter how strong the business plan, and how powerful the satellite and receiving equipment, a great customer experience relies on a flawless installation. That’s why we offer the ELEVATE Installer Training Programme. The programme takes installers through every step of the process, ensuring that the antenna is pointed correctly with nothing blocking the view, all of the connections are correct, the signal strength is 100%, and the quality reaches an established minimum. This ensures that each and every end consumer has a good service experience right from the beginning, and that the Kiwisat brand builds positive associations through satisfied customers. The programme also ensures the installers understand the service packages, so they can act as front-line sales personnel when people approach them during an installation.
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