AfricaXP's Premiumfree TV Bids to Become a Continent-Wide FTA Satellite Bouquet That Offers a Pay-TV-Like Experience

London — Given the continuing slow transition to terrestrial DTT in many countries, international satellite operators like Intelsat and SES are trying to change the broadcast landscape by offering African viewers bouquets with content they want to watch. This week Russell Southwood spoke to AfricaXP's CEO Craig Kelly and Intelsat's Senior Account Director Christell Meyer about what's planned.

PremiumFree TV was launched in late 2018 but by 2019 were already registering on Nigerian consumer broadcast research. This 13-channel bouquet was free and transmitted unencrypted. As an FTA bouquet, several of its channels outperform those on DStv: for example, its film channel Limelight out-performs some of Pay TV operators DStv's film channels.

From the 1st May this year, it will be available on Intelsat's IS-20 satellite platform that claims to be able to reach 40 million households (based on a Geopoll survey in 2019) covering 5 key Anglophone markets (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania). AfricaXP has taken a full transponder on the platform, giving it space to offer a 25 channel bouquet: the test is currently running with 18-20 channels. According to Kelly:"We're going for the maximum number of viewers. In terms of set-top boxes, an FTA universal set-top box is able to tune into any unencrypted channels. It's all about instant reach for us and about no extra equipment or cost for the viewer. It's Pay-TV quality with a multi-channel bouquet."

In eliminating the need for a service specific decoder, marketing and distributing the PremiumFree model seeks to emulate MBC, who pioneered free to air DTH TV in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the late 90s. Now well over 90% of TV homes in MENA have access to free to air satellite TV. Kelly believes:"DTT has been a miserable failure. FTA has to be on satellite as the countries to be covered are too big and the population densities too low."

Channels include: Afriwood Blockbuster, Afriwood Series, Bongo TV, Pulse, Cinema Hausa, Diva, Fight Night, Sports Connect, Fresh, Gospel Life, Kiddiwinks, True African, Life TV, Limelight, LOL Africa, Romanza Africa, Passion, Riverwood, Synapse and Trigger.

Intelsat already has 195 FTA faith-based channels on ISO-20 but PremiumFree TV represents a move to offer entertainment to new viewers. As Meyer told me:"The potential viewers are living on US$10-20 and there's no money for OTT content. They're looking for a diverse, rich selection of education, entertainment and sport. AfricaXP has the relationships with African producers so there's lots of local content and we're super-excited by that. TV households will increase in the next five years and we want to be in the frontline of acquiring those audiences." Over the next 3-5 years it wants to reach more households in the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly outside of the Southern African region, which is its current strength.

As a Free-To-Air bouquet, its success will lie in its ability to attract paid advertising. Kelly points to the US$375 million in advertising that DStv already attracts as an indication of what's out there:"We should be laying a claim to some amount of that advertising.

PremiumFree TV has its own ad sales company, AdNet Media but the build-up of sales has been hit by the Covid-19 year. It has had Nestle advertising Maggi cubes and a drinks advertiser who pulled as Covid-19 started to get into its stride:"There was absolutely nothing in 2020 but we are now busy booking campaigns."

So how will AfricaXP reach those 40 million households?:"We have a product called Chameleon and we supply content to African FTA's on a barter basis. That gives us advertising inventory with these broadcasters. We are also doing deals with radio and print media companies and have a social media presence. In addition, we're launching an OTT app and closing deals with most of the mobile networks who have a continental presence."

In Brief

Babeleye, a specialist in content metadata for video platforms, has announced that it has integrated its Electronic Program Guide (EPG) solution into the HD+ Service, the recently launched premium broadcast TV service marketed by SES HD PLUS Ghana, a subsidiary of SES. Babeleye and SES HD PLUS worked closely with a number of the top Ghanaian local free to air TV channels to implement the necessary mechanisms for a successful EPG deployment. The HD+ EPG is based on DVB standards, and is currently presented in English language

South Africa: SABC, together with eMedia Investments, has signed a channel supply agreement to ensure the public broadcaster supplies Openview with six television channels (SABC1, 2, 3 and three new channels) as well as nineteen radio stations. According to SABC and eMedia, the agreement signified a shift in the country's broadcasting landscape. This collaboration will ensure the SABC is officially in the free-to-air satellite market, supplementing its channels on digital terrestrial television and streaming platforms. The public broadcaster also plans to expand its channels to offer South Africans beyond the three free-to-air terrestrial channels and 24hour news channel it supplies to Multichoice for distribution on DSTV.

The Kwetu International Animation Film Festival (KIAFF) is an exciting new arrival on the African festival landscape. This East African based festival focuses only on animation with the first edition kicking-off online from April 2nd to 3rd, 2021 with 50 animation works from around the world. KIAFF is a 2 days festival that will showcase quality animation films from around the world, including features (longer than 45 minutes), shorts, TV commercials and with a focus on Made in Africa, films made by African animators in Africa. Various Awards will be presented by the jury, made up of, Prof Martin Mhando (Tanzania), Fred Lyons (Australia) and Fibby Kioria (Kenya) on Monday April 5 live on Zoom. Animation fans from all over the world will be able to watch the films via KIAFF's streaming partner, NuellaTV and also to vote for their favourite animation for the Audience Choice Award.

Basic Lead is to collaborate with Reed Exhibitions Africa to co-locate the next DISCOP Africa in-person market within the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF 2021) taking place from 8-14 December in Kigali, Rwanda. Through an experience-led CANEX agenda, IATF 2021 provides a platform to highlight Africa's creative and cultural industries. A series of virtual forums planned by the African Export-Import Bank will lead up to the 25th edition of DISCOP Africa to be held from Sunday 12 to Tuesday 14 December 2021.

As reported by industry sources, Mozambique's freedom of speech may be restricted should the Mozambique Parliament pass the proposed media and broadcasting laws. Media reports indicate that organisations such as the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) and the Electoral Institute of South Africa (EISA) voiced their concerns at the public hearing stating that the new laws in the parliament debate would restrict freedom of expression and press freedom. Johannes Beck, DW's Head of Portuguese for Africa, warned that adopting the two new laws would affect domestic and international media providers, making Mozambique one of Africa's most closed media markets. In agreement, the Director of Programs for Africa for DW, Claus Stäcker, stressed the implications of the restrictions that it would limit the number of correspondents from international broadcasters and other foreign media to two per outlet. The results of the limitation would be the deprivation of many sources of information relating to events in Mozambique, Africa, and the world.

The Ministry of Communication and Media of the Democratic Republic of Congo has granted a license to France 24 allowing its unencrypted broadcasting on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) network in Kinshasa.

Afrikatoon, the Ivorian studio, African leader in creation of animated films, is taking a small creative diversion, through its new production, quite different from its usual contents. This time, "Koka Kitoumbou", its new creation, transports us into a fantastic universe, rich in magic and sweets. The series of 13 episodes, tells the adventures of little Malisha (10 years old) and Rikitou, her woollen doll, who both(2) face many trials and tribulations in search of the "Koka Kitoumbou stone", a magical and powerful stone capable of transforming everything she touches into confectionery of all kind. Perfectly adapted for 3 years old children and above, the Koka Kitoumbou series is a pure animated delight that projects throughout its episodes, human values such as love, tolerance, honesty and hard work

Nigeria: The Acting Director of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Prof. Armstrong Idachaba, has commended ITS LTD and their associates, StarTimes, to ensure that the required transmitters for porting from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting in Lagos are ready for 29 April 2021. According to reliable sources, Idachaba said, Nigeria is committed to continuing with the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. Declaring after an inspection tour of digital transmitters at NTA Station, Channel 10, Tejuosho, Lagos during the weekend, Idachaba further said that the rollout completion date is still set for 2022.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

X