Balancing Act (London)

13 January 2014

Africa: Viewsat Sees a Doubling of Satellite TV Channels in Africa in 2014 With New Start-U.S and More Entertainment Channels

interview

London — There are now over 1500 TV channels broadcast via satellite over Africa. African TV channels are expanding their footprint in and outside of Africa to increase their audience.

Viewsat has been one of the key broadcast and transmission operators and Sylvain Béletre, Balancing Act interviewed Awaes Jaswal, CEO and Safia Rana, Head of Sales and Marketing, ViewSat.

Launched in 2006 to provide broadcast services in Sub-Saharan Africa, the company is now active across the global marketplace with operations in the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Europe and North America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Headquartered in the UK, ViewSat operates a series of satellite broadcasting platforms, supplemented with a dedicated fiber network, teleports and playout centre to provide a high-quality infrastructure for customers' digital satellite broadcasting.

Q. What is your history in Africa?

A. ViewSat was established in 2006 to meet the demand for a reliable, cost-effective broadcast service in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the absence of such a service, private broadcasters had no outlet for their programmes.

Communication and transport within Sub-Saharan Africa were often challenging. However in establishing a leading position on the continent, the growing ViewSat team developed a reputation for real insight and understanding of the local markets and for identifying and responding to the individual needs of customers.

The company also developed expertise in tailoring the right solution to new entrants to broadcasting and sharing with them the benefit of its knowledge and experience. Significant investment has followed the launch of that first platform and ViewSat offers a platform for satellite distribution, dedicated playout centre and its own fibre network.

From Sub-Saharan Africa, ViewSat has taken its operations worldwide using the same principles of understanding clients, markets and local business cultures. This in-depth knowledge combined with the very best products and tailored solutions has seen the business continue to follow an impressive growth curve.

Q. Which satellite are you using to serve Africa?

A. Viewsat uses IS20 Ku band to serve the Africa DTH market. The IS20 satellite is the leading video neighbourhood for Africa with approximately 60 million FTA viewers.

Q. Which services do you offer to TV channels in Africa?

ViewSat provides a comprehensive range of satellite, transmission and OTT services for TV and radio channels of every size across the globe, including in North Africa and Sub Saharan Africa, North America. See website.

Q. Who are your clients in Africa?

A. Viewsat has about 150 TV channels clients globally. In Africa Viewsat supports over 70 African TV channels which are expanding in and outside of Africa. Roughly 90% of Viewsat supported African TV channels are broadcast in Africa. We serve about 10 to 15 million African TV households. Channels are mostly in the Entertainment and Religious segments.

For example in April 2013, GOD TV, the global Christian media channel, has partnered with ViewSat to provide specialised Gospel and Christian messaging to the Sub Saharan region, tapping into ViewSat's capacity on the Intelsat 20 Ku Band platform and reaching millions direct-to-home viewers as a result.

In addition, ViewSat provide broadcast services to BOSTV, the first entertainment channel operating from Zimbabwe.

Q. What are ViewSat's 2014 predictions for the AV sectors in Africa?

Awaes Jaswal, CEO:

- Increased business for ViewSat by adding 2 additional platforms

- African channels expanding footprint in Africa, North America and Europe - Asia

- more services - hopefully doubling in 2014

- more entertainment and start-up channels in the African market

- more DTT roll out: satellite players have positioned their service to support DTT service contracts across the African continent.

- There could be more regional pay TV platforms coming up

- African audiences watch a lot of satellite TV: e.g. In Zimbabwe, 70% of viewer watch satellite TV

Q. What are the business predictions for ViewSat in 2014?

- increased satellite capacity in Africa - oversupply capacity right now

- more activity in West and Southern Africa

Q. What are the main challenges within the African TV channel segment today?

A.-There is a skill shortage in the broadcasting industry in Africa and some TV channels have limited financial resources, a limited advertising market, a lack of regular media audience surveys carried out in Africa, esp. on the FTA satellite segment.

Digital Content Africa: This week Balancing Act's web TV channel Smart Monkey TV launches a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it will cover online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 5 pilot issues and these can be viewed on this link: Essential reading for those in mobile VAS to anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to info@balancingact-africa.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line.

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