"Nigeria's free-to-air market is vibrant, offers growth opportunities”

A new revolution of 13 free-to-air (FTA) television channels delivered using SES satellite at 28.2 degrees East was recently launched for the local television broadcast audiences in Nigeria and West Africa. In this interview, Clint Brown, the vice president of sales and market development for SES video in Africa tells Jumoke Lawanson about the need for high picture quality free channels and the wide reach service of SES satellite. Excerpts.
Who is SES?
SES is the world’s leading satellite operator with over 70 satellites. Its satellites deliver television services to more than 351 million households worldwide and network connectivity to over 130 countries. Today it carries over 7,900 channels and is the single operator carrying the most HD (2,700) and UHD (50) channels globally. SES has a media services subsidiary, MX1, which offers end-to-end solutions to enable broadcasters and media companies to easily deliver their content to multiple platforms. In Africa, SES has been supporting the growth of digital TV in Africa for many years. It broadcasts over 900 channels in Africa, and hosts eight DTH platforms that serve over 30 million TV homes across the continent. With our 10 GEO satellites serving Africa we are accelerating the digital switchover in the region, and complementing Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). Satellites deliver signals to terrestrial TV towers in densely populated areas and directly to individual homes in sparsely populated regions.
What exactly is the free-to-air bouquet launch about and how is SES involved?
SES is working with Africa XP to deliver 13 new free-to-air (FTA) channels as a bouquet called ‘PREMIUM.FREE’ to Nigeria as well as to other parts of West Africa. The bouquet’s launch channels will be supplied by AfricaXP and delivered via SES’ satellite at 28.2 degrees East, a prime orbital location from where SES delivers Direct-to-Home (DTH) services to over 9 million households in West Africa.
Why are you partnering with PREMIUM.FREE to deliver this bouquet to Nigerian and West African market?
The Nigerian FTA market is particularly vibrant and offers great opportunities for growth. The current market can be variable and with this offering of 13 channels, we hope to bring a new experience to viewers. The bouquet of PREMIUM.FREE is extremely attractive and we are confident it will foster consumer choice in the local market.
What differentiates the PREMIUM.FREE bouquet offering from other satellite TV offerings?
 The bouquet really stands out because it combines both local and international content that is attractive for end-consumers, and is offered in high picture quality. AfricaXP is the leading independent content distributor and producer, and the PREMIUM.FREE bouquet sourced from their library really showcases that. The bouquet is made up of African programming with top-flight international content across a diverse range of themes from sports to movies, telenovelas, kids, factual, reality and lifestyle programming, all of which will be familiar to local audiences.
Do you need a Set Top Box to receive the PREMIUM.FREE service if you have other service provider?
Anyone with a Set Top Box (STB) and satellite dish in West Africa can access the PREMIUM.FREE bouquet without charge from Astra 2G located at 28.2° East. If a household’s dish already points towards the 28.2 orbital location all they need to do is use the stand search process on their STB and they should get the channel very easily. Others will need to hire a professional to repoint their dishes before using the search feature and they will get the new channels plus the rest of channel channels available from the platform at that orbital location. While the channels can be viewed using a 78 cm dish, the quality of the viewing experience, and resilience to disruption that is sometimes caused by rain, can better achieved using 90cm dish.
What is the ASTRA 2G satellite?
We launched the ASTRA 2G satellite in 2014 to the prime orbital location of 28.2 degrees East. Since then SES has built the largest free-to-air reach in sub Saharan Africa from the orbital location, now reaching over nine million Direct-to-Home households across West Africa from this orbital position. ASTRA 2G and a second satellite, ASTRA 2F, share the orbital location to complement each other and provide expanded coverage of the West African region. From these two satellites audiences in the region can receive the largest proportion of local content of any satellite.

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