SES Sees Escalating Digital TV Growth Across Africa!
Africa has been dubbed the land of opportunities and the proliferation of technology across the continent is playing a major role in the growth of digital TV. While the global technology players would previously manage operations from abroad, now they see the potential and opportunities the African continent provides and the advantages of an on-the-ground presence in order to understand better the environments they operate in and be able to customise their offering and cater to their audiences’ needs.
Internet accessibility has played a significant role in the expansion of digital TV across the continent. It has enabled a different consumer experience; on top of traditional linear TV mostly provided via satellite or terrestrial waves, today any mobile device can be used as a television set. Additionally, the positive growth and demand of Over-The-Top (OTT) services from consumers, like YouTube and Skype, have essentially made them a channel to put content through the internet and broadening the availability of TV content in Africa. Content has become king.
The constantly evolving telecoms landscape is, however, forcing mobile network operators (MNOs) to diversify their service offerings to the end user. Previously most of their revenue came from voice but now, because of the growth of internet accessibility, most consumers use OTT services to communicate and cause a negative impact on the MNOs’ revenue. Because of that, we now see MNOs offering some form of broadcast or digital TV services on their existing network infrastructure, whether regional or continental, to assist with the digital expansion as they need to find new revenue streams to reshape their bottom-line. The net of it is that, in various African countries, there is an exponential hunger for local content and the growth of digital TV is precisely enabling that local content to develop and boost the local film industries. Before, viewers had no choice but to consume foreign content, i.e. movies, reality shows and series. Africa now can tell their own stories from a cultural and creative perspective. This in itself is a very positive development.
Following Nollywood in Nigeria, I see other local film industries growing very fast in Africa, specifically in South Africa and Kenya due to the current efforts to develop the industries and of course thanks to the available funding. I also expect to see more studios and theatres being built as the industry grows. This is beneficial not only from an economic point of view but also, and maybe more importantly, from a cultural perspective.
SES’ role when it comes to digital TV is essentially on the distribution side - building and expanding the robust technical reach and providing robust platforms that will enable content to move and reach the end users on their various devices - either via linear TV or on mobile devices. Ultimately our role is to be the digital TV enabler, and we have numerous digital migration projects going on in East, West and Southern Africa. However, this can’t be achieved in isolation. It requires us to team up with the right local partners in key markets.
My prediction for digital TV is that there is going to be a much larger growth than the one we have witnessed for mobile devices. Such growth will also enable individuals in the media industry to showcase their talents and in the process create new and more jobs which Africa did not even think of 10 years ago. I am optimistic because of the talent that is available in Africa and the willingness to harness technology developments. The industry will grow beyond expectations, and you can count on SES to support and foster its developments.