StarTimes TV connects 200,000 subscribers in East Africa


StarTimes DTV has by far connected over 200,000 customers in the East African region, the Chief Marketing Officer Star DTV Uganda Kevin Chen has said.

StarTimes DTV is a Chinese-owned digital satellite pay TV and also operates in the East African countries of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. In Africa, it operates in about 10 countries and its headquarters are based in Beijing, China. StarTimes officially begun its operations in Uganda in March, 2010 and so far has a customer base of 30,000 subscribers.

"We have been able to get a good number of subscribers within just four months of our operation in the region because we incorporate most of the local channels and provide a clear signal. This enables people in distant areas to enjoy clear signals," Chen told East African Business Week in an interview last week.

Chen said since they opened shop in Burundi in March 2010, they have connected 8,000 customers and 100,000 customers in Tanzania where they started operations in the same period. In Rwanda where they started operations in 2006, Chen said they have a customer base of 30,000 whereas the rest are in Kenya where they have a partnership with KCB.

Chen said once connected, customers do not need to line up to renew their subscription because they buy a scratch card, load it and send a message and the subscription is renewed. "This kind of flexibility has made StarTimes very easy to use and affordable compared with other pay TV channels," said Chen. He said customers have liked their services because of the technology they use. "Customers cut costs because they do not need a dish to get connected which would come with added costs. All you need is Star DTV-enabled decoder," he noted. The decoders have an attached antenna that works as a receiver in the place of a dish.

The initial installation fee is UShs120,000 (about US$60) while the monthly subscription fee is UShs 15,000 ($7.5) and offers about 36 channels for all the East African countries.

Though this is way cheaper compared to other digital pay TVs, they are yet to introduce football channels to step up competition with Dstv which charges UShs399,000 (about $199.5) for initial installation and about UShs180,000 ($90) for monthly subscription.

However Chen said next year they will introduce a package of UShs25,000 ($12.50) inclusive of football channels that offer live access to premiership and other major European leagues.

Startimes has been competitive in the areas of entertainment, wildlife, fashion and news channels like BBC, Al Jazeera and France24. Chen further added that in Uganda they will be spreading to Mbarara in western Uganda and Gulu, northern Uganda early next year. ”We have a commitment with International Telecommunication Union to ensure that by 2012 Uganda has no anologue system,” noted Chen.