DTT: The Dark cloud hanging over the African TV market

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The arrival of digital terrestrial television (DTT) will revolutionise the African audiovisual landscape – When it finally happens…

Consultancy and research house has focused on tracking the digital transition in broadcasting since 2007 and is about to release its 2nd. DTT report's update (August 2013 and updated later). After 8 months of intensive research, Senior Analyst Sylvain Beletre highlights some of the issues raised in the report.

DTT in Africa - market report 2013

So far 8 countries (and soon 9 with Naminia) on the African continent have launched DTT and close to 2.5 million homes now have access to DTT channels either on a pay or free bassis, in parallel to the 9 million digital pay TV subscribers. In theory and from 2015, Africa’s 100 million TV households will be able to access many more free digital TV channels in better quality. This represents lots of sales of DTT set-top boxes and digitally enabled televisions. But the difference between
 2.5 million and 100 million is a very wide gap to close. 

The switch also represents massive investments in digital content but also in digital networks across the vast African territories. Over 500 African TV channels will need to convert their operation to digital technology. Many national TV and telecoms licences will be up on sale very soon.

DTT can change the balance of power between the "legacy" channels. This report puts into perspective the current upheavals and untangles the real challenges of the years to come.

Who will pay the bill to upgrade to DTT? Will it be the Government? TV broadcasters? TV advertisers? Or in the long run, will it be public that pick up the tab for the transition?

More channels means more competition: DTT will affect TV broadcasters’ potential revenues while at the same time, audiences are also attracted by local content accessible via Broadband internet, digital games and a mix of satellite free-to-air and pay TV bouquets. Which TV broadcasters will win greater market share and which ones will appear on the new DTT bouquets?

The current slow pace of switching on DTT favours the pay TV operators as it gives them more time to convert households to their packages before free-to-air DTT becomes established. Also Pay TV operator Star Times has made enabling the digital transition in exchange for Pay TV channels a key part of its commercial strategy.
 
The pressure is on TV broadcasters who need to buy DTT licences and at the same time invest in the right coverage and Internet strategy to maintain their market share. For governments, the objective is to make DTT widely adopted at home while securing public finances.

Therefore African governments, DTT receivers’ manufacturers and TV broadcasters need to understand the full process in order to optimise their strategy and catch the DTT train at the right time. But this requires several complex stages over a very long period.

Developing clear and detailed guidelines and roadmaps to facilitate the transition from analogue to digital currently is a hot priority not only for all African governments but also for local TV broadcasters. This report aims to help players involved in the African digital transition to understand the various stages and find relevant routes for successful cooperation in the migration. The report provides a list of stages to be completed and potential cost saving options so that a country can go fully digital faster.

This report captures a list of costs and of potential sources of revenues that African government can expect as part of the digital migration.

A section looks at how a multi-channel future will transform programming and which players will succeed in this new world across Africa. It provides recommendations in terms of hardware, content and pricing.

This report also provides readers with easy to use excel tables illustrating the current DTT state-of-play by country in Africa together with key African market data points: population, households, TV households, pay TV subscribers, list of channels, the number of internet users by country – all across 56 African territories. The reports gives a directory of DTT contacts and maps out the key Pay TV providers in Africa by number of subscribers.

For more information on this report, contact Balancing Act here or review the report and buy it online here.

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