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DTH: satellite’s bread and butter

DTH still remains the bread and butter of the satellite industry and it is still growing as broadcasters move from SD to HD to UHD and new channels appear.


Africa’s large landmass and large rural population make DTH services a compelling proposition well into the next decade. One of the key markets lies in rural areas and although urbanization has been on the rise, the vast majority or some 70% of the population still resides in rural areas where terrestrial infrastructure is lacking. DTH services along with other pay-TV platforms have continue to experience favorable trends and become recipients of these consumer patterns. Television ownership is likewise one of the fastest in the globe and there is still room to grow. In terms of demographics, 70% of the population is below 35 and more than half are below 25 years.

Satellite operator SES’ annual Satellite Monitor, which is put together with results from the company’s own market research, found that growth is coming from emerging markets of Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, where SES reaches seven million, 44 million and 24 million homes respectively. DTH is an excellent proposition for Africa and the digitization of the continent has also presented a great opportunity for satellite operators and DTH providers. Here, we see excellent evidence of the growth in production and need to distribute local content. Eutelsat has very recently leased capacity on its 16A satellite to AREWA24, the first-of-its-kind 24-hour free-to-air Hausa-language entertainment and lifestyle channel. Leveraging the satellite’s Ku-band footprint that sweeps across sub-Saharan Africa, the channel is shifting towards a new and higher quality of broadcasting service to solidify its position as Northern Nigeria’s premiere Hausa language channel. The powerful footprint of EUTELSAT 16A enables AREWA24 to extend its reach to Hausa-speaking communities throughout Nigeria and the region, including Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cameroon.

Launched in June 2014, AREWA24 has chosen to upgrade performance on EUTELSAT 16A while continuing play-out and other channel services with its teleport partner, Jordan Media City, based in Amman, Jordan. Viewers can now benefit from improved satellite signal quality across Hausa-speaking regions and can also access a variety of popular free-to-air channels available from EUTELSAT 16A’s rich programming neighbourhood. Jacob Arback, President of AREWA24, commented: “We are extremely proud to bring the finest broadcasting resources to our television channel and to enrich the lives of our viewers by showcasing the beauty, promise and potential of Northern Nigeria to Hausa speakers

across Nigeria and West and Central Africa. The choice of the EUTELSAT 16A satellite demonstrates our ongoing commitment to raising the bar for our viewers and partnering with a satellite provider that has long demonstrated its commitment to Africa.”

Also serving Nigeria, ConSat TV’s DTH platform is using Spacecom’s AMOS-5 at the 17.5°E orbital position, to transmit its content to its pay TV customers. This further builds on the satellite broadcast market in Nigeria. AMOS-5’s Ku-beam enables the provider to deliver its premium channels to its viewers throughout Nigeria.

ConSat TV, owned by Continental Satellite, offers its digital Pay TV platform with over 50 channels to Nigerian viewers. With premium channels such as TV5Monde, NHK World, Al Jazeera, Fox, MSNBC and more, ConSat TV also brings local news such as TVC News and local Nollywood entertainment like TVC Yoruba, TVC Hausa, plus music, children and young adults, reality, sports, lifestyle, movies and entertainment channels.

“The Nigerian TV market, pay TV and free-to-air, is one of the most dynamic and exhilarating markets in Africa. DTH is particularly popular and AMOS-5 at 17°E truly reaches every corner of Nigeria with its strong signal and smooth reception,” commented Eitan Mesika, Spacecom’s VP Sales West Africa. “We are proud to be supplying ConSat TV with the highest quality satellite services and working with them will take the market forward into a great future.”

AMOS-5 represents a total solution for broadcast and data clients in Africa with excellent coverage, a strong footprint, and reliable and powerful signals throughout the continent. The rich neighbourhood of FTA and encrypted channels in the 16-17°E orbital location is the leading and most popular TV position in West Africa. AMOS-5’s three Ku-band beams and pan-African C-band beam add value to broadcasters, data, telecommunication and Internet providers as well as governments and multi-national  orporations.

Content delivery from China to Africa via SES

StarTimes has extended its partnership with SES on the SES-5 satellite. StarTimes has contracted additional capacity to provide an enhanced TV viewing experience for its subscribers in Africa by providing better picture quality content and more TV channels on its DTH package. StarTimes currently provides English language direct-to-home (DTH) content to viewers across the region, via the SES-5 satellite located at 5oEast, and is today the fastest growing digital TV operator in Africa, with more than five million DTT and DTH subscribers across 26 countries in Africa.

StarTimes sees unprecedented growth opportunities for the company in the region and is extending its presence and reach in the DTH market to deliver on its promise to provide affordable, world class pay TV services across  Africa. Both SES and StarTimes have continued to invest in the African market over the past few years.

Arabsat enables CNN to broadcast across

MENA region

Arabsat has recently welcomed CNN International onto its BADR-6 satellite, enabling the broadcaster to deliver its content across the Middle East and North Africa. The agreement gives Middle Eastern audiences the opportunity to watch CNN International’s award-winning mix of breaking news and business, sports and feature programming via the minimum dish size. CNN International has dedicated editorial and broadcast hubs in London, Atlanta, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong, and provides round-the-clock coverage of the most important international stories for its diverse global audience. “After being present in the region for many years we’re delighted to expand our reach in the Middle East still further through this new partnership with Arabsat,” said Rani R. Raad, Chief Commercial Officer CNN International. “As the region’s leading international news provider this is just our latest commitment to ensuring CNN is widely available in the region and we’re very pleased to welcome Arabsat viewers to the

channel.” Khalid Balkheyour, President & CEO of ARABSAT said: “It was always our ambition in Arabsat to bring CNNI on board. CNN has a long & professional history of covering the Middle East news & critical events. We are pleased to deliver CNNI to Arabsat viewers across the Middle East & North Africa combined with an extensive offering & wide varieties of the prime free-to-air international and regional news channel on Arabsat hotspot at 26o E .”

Al ArabyTV launches channel on Es’hail 1

Al Araby Television Network has launched its new SD channel via the Es’hail 1 satellite located at the 25.5oEast hotspot neighbourhood covering the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Al Araby Television Network is a new channel based in London, which aims to be a platform for Arab youth, talent, energy and aspirations. With a mission to enrich the Arab media scene for a better Arab future, the channel offers viewers entertainment, arts and creativity. Broadcasting in Arabic from its headquarters in London, Al Araby Television Network has a broad range of content, varying from news to entertainment. The new SD channel is available exclusively on Es’hail 1 at 25.5oEast and further

adds to the attractive line up of content currently broadcasting via Es’hailSat.

Plenty of room for growth

Though there has been discussion on how satellite pay TV can survive in the face of competition from rival delivery technologies, it does appear that satellite is very strong, specially in emerging and remote markets where terrestrial technology is scarce. In developing markets such as Africa, there is huge potential for satellite to make massive gains. However, the industry must always continue to think about how it can innovate to make the satellite offering current and attractive, as Eutelsat are doing with the development of their ‘smart LNB’ that will enable satellite to be as interactive as cable.

DTH is the solid bedrock that forms the foundation of the industry.

Satellite does video distribution very well and it is very cost-effective and unique in so far that it can deliver where terrestrial cannot and where it will always be too expensive to roll out networks. As for the question of whether linear TV is under threat from OTT? Not yet. As NSR points out, OTT is developed in the United States, but elsewhere it is still nascent so in the short to medium term, this should not affect the standing of linear TV. However, as we know all too well, things can change and complacency is never a good thing so a proactive approach to dealing with future competition is the best direction of travel.


Additional reports from sat-evolution

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