Tele-10: "VOD is the future for the African TV market"

Distribution

IPTV-news interviewed Eugene Nyagahene, CEO of Tele-10 Group, which has pay-TV operations in a number of countries across eastern Africa.

Q: What developments have you witnessed in Africa's broadcasting industry in the past 12 months?

A: We have been involved in analogue transmission since 1993 in Burundi, and since 1997 in Rwanda. We had secured analogue licenses in ten countries across Africa, but investment was stopped due to the digital migration.

Now with a presence in the East Africa Community (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi), we witnessed more changes during 2010 and 2011 than in the last decade as a whole, mainly concerning regulation, transmission and content.

Firstly, regulators in the East Africa Community (EAC) changed their texts to adapt them to the ITU recommendations regarding digital migration, and harmonised them. Secondly, new opportunities followed those changes and came along with DTT: signal distributors, content providers, hardware distributors etcetera.

Thirdly, new players emerged from scratch to compete with satellite operators (DSTV and Canalsat) – Star Times from China, Zuku with fibre in Kenya, pay-TV/free-to-air operators such as Tele10 in Rwanda and Burundi etcetera. There have also been new products such as DStv mobile, in partnership with Safaricom in Kenya.

Q: What challenges have you encountered as a result of this progress?

A: The main challenge was to re-apply for a new licence and also make a choice from those new opportunities. In a country like Rwanda, a signal distributor can’t be a content provider.

The second challenge concerns the business model: traditional pay-TV versus free-to-air channels. Having been a pay-TV broadcaster for more than 17 years, we are still reinventing ourselves to make sure we launch the right product for the market, taking into consideration many challenges such as technology, purchasing power, competition and content.

Q: What role do you think online video will eventually take within the overall mix of television technologies in Africa?


A: We believe that VOD is the future for the African TV market, since a lot of news and documentary channels are available for free. But we still need to overcome challenges such as broadband access and payment methods (credit cards are not yet popular in the EAC).

Q: How do you believe content providers can best tap these new opportunities?

A: Thematic channels are the next step for Africa. We currently have a lot of general channels, and the audience is demanding particular content such as sports, and mainly football.

Q: How quickly do you think viewer behaviour will change?

A: There is a transition period between now and 2015 when all African platforms will be digital. African viewers are busy buying new devices such as set-top boxes and HD TV sets. The viewer is now enjoying new channels in terms of quality and quantity. Before 2015, viewers will demand better content focused on their local area: such as local news, local documentaries and local movies.

Eugene will be speaking at the AfricaCast event taking place in Cape Town, South Africa on 9th-10th November 2011.