SA Direct TV targets European Audience to boost Southern African businesses

Technology & Convergence

Southern Africa Direct is a lifestyle and culture television channel. The company seeks to provide authentic and engaging information and entertainment for anyone wishing to travel to or do business in Southern Africa. Its programmes are financed through advertising from local African firms and international companies.

Sylvain Beletre of Balancing Act interviewed Marco Pereira, Head of Sales (UK) at Southern Africa Direct.

Q: Why was Southern Africa Direct channel created?

A: There are problems in Africa, but when we read European or American newspapers and the negative things they say about Africa, it is not exactly the continent we know. We are dedicated to telling the Southern African story through positive, engaging, entertaining and informative multi-media content, while at the same time providing a comprehensive information resource on each country in East and Southern Africa as well as the Indian and Atlantic Ocean islands. We believe that attracting visitors to this region will not only help the population with more jobs, but also tell the truth about what Southern Africa is all about. African culture is very sophisticated and we want to share it. We also want to reflect the realities of the region. In some ways, one could say that we take some responsibility for how the region is portrayed. The first of our television channels was launched in 2007. Our website complements our TV channel by providing visitors with an on-demand video library, short country guides, travel bookings, online shopping, special offers and more. We have recently created a section dedicated to 2010 World Cup.

Q: How do you support local firms in Southern Africa?

A: we give them to opportunity to get visibility in Europe and elsewhere via our website. We offer them special rates should they want us to produce a film about their activities and solutions.

Helping local businesses is part of our mission, and we seek to increase our Business and Commerce programs. We are currently looking into topics of interest to potential investors.

Southern Africa Direct can tailor media packages according to client requirements and budget. Clients can chose from stand-alone television advertising campaigns or e-marketing solutions or a combination to provide a total solution. As a niche channel, Southern Africa Direct delivers a focused audience resulting in no media wastage.

The use of rich media content (video) is strongly encouraged as this is the way of the future – especially in the travel and tourism arena. Content distribution is the key and Southern Africa Direct is already working on mobile solutions and exploring GPS driven platforms in this regard. Additional TV channels in other countries also form part of our strategy.

The Southern Africa Direct website has achieved a high Google PageRank (6) through consistent quality content. We promote the entire Southern African region to a global audience through the innovative use of rich media content distributed across multiple media platforms, including the web, TV and mobile phones. Online video is featured on www.southernafricadirect.com, and further distributed across partner and social networking sites such as YouTube, MyVideo, Blip.tv, Metacafe, Facebook and others. The number of videos being watched online is increasing dramatically - with over 14.5 billion videos watched in the US in April alone, the importance of having an online video presence cannot be stressed enough.

Q: What is the entry price to produce an ad or to advertise via your services?

A: Production fees start at R5,000 per minute (excluding location logistics) At South African Rand (R or ZAR) 18,000 per month (about 1600 Euros or 1400 British Pounds) our entry level TV advertising package is extremely affordable if you already have a video ad. Website banner advertising is also cost effective with a main leaderboard costing only R 5,000 for 6 months (about 447 Euros or 393 British Pounds) . By reducing the barriers to entry, Southern Africa Direct ensures accessibility for marketers with limited budgets. If you are a small firm with a limited advertising budget and have never been involved in video or TV ad, we can help you create your first television ad and offer you an affordable way of distributing your message via video across the web.

Q: how many people do you reach with your channel and what is your audience made of?

A: Southern Africa Direct has attracted a cumulative TV audience of over 6.5 million with over 77,000 viewers tuning in every week. Our viewers include travellers wishing to visit Southern Africa; business people interested in engaging with or investing in the region; members of the African diaspora; and people with a general interest in or love for the vibrant culture and scenic beauty of this largely undiscovered land.

Q: Who’s behind company?

A: The company was founded by four entrepreneurs and belongs to private investors; Alan Joy, Pierre van der Hoven, Zenani Dlamini and Zwelakhe Mankazana, Southern Africa Direct comprises a diverse team of media and communications experts with knowledge and experience in international television and radio broadcasting, mobile telecommunications, information technology, interactive services, marketing and public relations. Pierre van der Hoven is our CEO.

Pierre was then a founder and key player in setting up a number of new media companies including eTV (the first commercial free-to-air television in South Africa), YFM (the largest regional radio station in South Africa), Yarona FM (regional radio in Botswana), SANHU (wildlife production company), Phoenix (documentary production company). Pierre also consulted to various local and international media players including the South African government. Pierre started Three Blind Mice Communications. TBM at the time pioneered the satellite – multicasting concept in the Digital Signage industry.

Q: Where do you host your online programmes and where do you produce programmes?

A: Right now in London. We have production facilities in South Africa. Content production and advertiser relations in Southern Africa are managed by the Johannesburg office.