Transforming the Ethiopian Broadcasting Industry

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Transforming the Ethiopian Broadcasting Industry

The demand for high-quality content is growing everywhere. Even in the most remote regions of Ethiopia, viewers expect to have access to HD content. Ethiopia—the second most populous country in Africa—is among the fastest growing economies in the world. As technology brings connectivity to the most remote regions of Ethiopia, the broadcasting industry is poised to grow exponentially.

Abdikadir Awabdi, Senior Manager for SES Video for East Africa, talks about how Ethiosat is enabling broadcaster growth, and helping them meet the demands of Ethiopian audiences.

Ethiosat Broadcast Industry

Ethiopian DTH homes

How is the broadcasting landscape evolving in Ethiopia?

The broadcasting journey in Ethiopia started with one public broadcasting TV channel that was transmitted through an analogue system. Even when Direct-to-Home technology became more accessible, Ethiopia did not have a satellite footprint dedicated to the country. Local broadcasters received satellite broadcast via providers operating across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region—who added Ethiopian channels to their catalogue of international channels. While this provided the reach and stability the broadcasting industry needed, it also presented a number of challenges. Broadcasters were required to bear high costs to access capacity, and consumers had to pay to view the channels. Today, as the country moves to a free-to-air direct TV platform solely targeted at serving the Ethiopian population, we’re seeing a massive transformation in the broadcasting industry.

What challenges were broadcasters facing in bringing quality video experiences to the Ethiopian population?

Out of Ethiopia’s 20 million households, roughly 5 million are TV households. However, this number is set to grow exponentially as electricity is rolled out in rural areas—where almost 80% of Ethiopia’s population resides. While broadcasters need to ensure they can reach viewers in remote regions, delivering HD content to these regions is becoming a necessity as well. A majority of the TV sets available in Ethiopia are larger smart TVs—which can only be enjoyed with better picture quality.

In the past, Ethiopian broadcasters have struggled to access services that enable bringing HD content to TV homes in the country. Today, the broadcasting industry in Ethiopia is looking for providers that can support them with high-quality signals and seamless content management—ultimately, enabling them to deliver high-definition content to audiences everywhere. As the number of Ethiopian TV homes grow, the broadcasting industry is looking forward to overcoming challenges to meeting the demand for high-quality content across the country.

How does Ethiosat deliver on broadcaster needs in Ethiopia?

Ethiosat is a free-to-air bouquet of high-definition channels providing Ethiopians a large offering of both local and relevant international content. This unique platform dedicated to Ethiopia has been made possible by agreements between the Association of Ethiopian Broadcasters (AEB), the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), and SES. In developing this solution, our goal was to support broadcaster needs, while also bringing together key stakeholders—like installers, set-top box manufacturers, and television importers—to build an ecosystem that empowers broadcasters to deliver quality content. 

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

DTH homes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

What benefits does Ethiosat bring to the broadcasting industry, and the Ethiopian population as a whole?

Ethiosat is helping broadcasters bring high-quality content to the most remote areas of Ethiopia. Apart from delivering broadcaster content, we also support key operations like content management, playout, and aggregation. These end-to-end managed services enable the broadcasting industry to create and deliver superior viewing experiences to Ethiopian audiences—no matter where they are.

Many broadcasters are now focused on creating 100% Ethiopian content that is culturally relevant to the local population. Today, Ethiopian audiences can enjoy local football matches—live, and in HD. They can learn traditional Ethiopian recipes via a local cooking show. And they can access critical information on health and stay updated on important news. We recently launched 9 educational channels on Ethiosat platform to enable the continuity of learning for school children who have been at home amid COVID-19 school closures.

In Africa, storytelling has been a valuable tradition, and a way of bringing people together. Ethiosat ensures broadcasters can continue this tradition—by enabling them to share stories with the right audiences at the right time—in HD quality. 

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