With 8 million clients in Africa, StarTimes now brings innovative Telecoms and IT solutions
Picture above : William Masy, Oversea Public Relations Director, StarTimes International Investment Co., Ltd.
By Sylvain Béletre for Balancing Act, July 2016. The 6th African Digital TV Development Seminar, a 2-days fruitful forum on African digital migration, hosted by StarTimes came to a perfect close on June 24th, 2016 in Beijing at the Fengda International Hotel.
This seminar showcased Startimes' latest Telecoms and IT innovations such as a mobile apps (IPTV, catch up TV, EPG...), a range of 5 low cost smartphone models, a 20 000 hours led-based video projector, a new range of low consumption, ultra slim smartTV sets, a virtual reality module, STB and a multimedia home solution - Startimes Home Media Centre - as well as a solar panel to power these pieces of equipment. Its smartphone range starts at USD 50 to USD 240 depending on quantities ordered. The Home Media Centre allows to connect several TV sets and screens at home, internet access, and enable remote access to security and switch features.
Selected partners were invited to visit Startimes' brand new headquarters to see these innovations in action. Startimes has worked hard on several telecoms, IT and broadcast innovations: system integartion, catch up content, compression, programme format to suit different screens, anti-piracy and protection solutions, partnerships with hardware providers and device manufacturers as well as local staff training in engineering skills.
Chairman of the High Communication Commission of Guinea, Ms. Martine Condé, concluded that the two days seminar provided an important platform for delegates from various countries to share their experiences and suggestions on the promotion of digital migration in Africa.
Over 300 delegates from 39 countries (mostly from Africa), including ministers of broadcasting and TV administrations, heads of national TV stations from African countries, attended the conference. Key partners such as SES, Eutelsat, CCTV, FranceTV, Trace, Groupe AB, IMG, Fox, Conax, HiSilicon, and more, as well as around 30 journalists and analysts also joined the seminar.
To provide opportunities for African delegates to consult on financing issues in digital migration, the seminar also invited leaders of financial institutions like Export-Import Bank of China, China-Africa Development Fund, China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation to the meeting.
“It was an important moment for us to share and think; I hope that there will be more moments like this in the future,” said Ms. Condé. She noted that the seminar successfully achieved its goals with delegates having had efficient discussion about how to realize digital migration in Africa. Conde added that the next step is to think how to implement those suggestions brought up at the seminar, adding that President of Guinea, Alpha Condé would fully pay attention to those suggestions.
Today, StarTimes is operational in 16 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, with offices in 29 countries. founded in 1988, the company growth reflects Mr. Pang’s long journey to achieve this position. Interviewed by Sylvain Béletre for Balancing Act, Mr. Pang Xinxing, president of StarTimes Group explained that TV was a revelation to him: “I was born in a rural Chinese village and I had never touched a TV set until very late, when I went to the big city. It was the first time I watched TV and it was really exciting for me to see the outside world.”
On the content side, Mike Dearham, VP of content confirmed that Startimes will continue to invest in sports. Startimes broadcasts 7 sports channels including 2 in HD with matches available via DTT and DTH technology including on a free-to-air basis. Durham confirmed that StarTimes, China Sports Media (CSM) and IMG signed a three-way agreement (June 23, 2016) in Beijing, to bring the Chinese Super League (CSL) to an African audience. Under this agreement, Beijing-based StarTimes has acquired all-media rights to the Chinese top-tier soccer league in Sub-Saharan Africa. This deal runs from 2016 through 2017.
By the end of 2013, Africa had 11 million Pay-TV subscribers, among which 8.5 million households had opted for satellite television. By 2020, this number will reach around 26 million subscribers. At the moment, Pay-TV revenue in Sub-Sahara represents about US$3.17 billion, and is estimated to increase by 69% to US$5.35 billion by 2020.
“In 2011 when we hosted the First African Digital TV Development Forum, we were only capable of inviting 27 delegates from 12 countries to attend the meeting; six years passed, and today we have more than 300 delegates coming here,” said Mr. Pang Xinxing. He noted that the past six years are exactly the same time for digital migration to vastly spread across Africa, hinting that the seminars helped to promote the development of African digital migration.
Mr. Pang concluded that African Digital TV Development Seminars have been a channel for delegates to share experience, enhance consensus and make friends. “This year’s seminar comes to an end, but our communication and friendship will continue.”
In 2011, StarTimes hosted the First African Digital TV Development Forum with the presence of important guests, inspiring themes, forward looking ideas and win-win models for cooperation, made the forum a much-discussed phenomenon in Africa’s television industry.
With a global vision, StarTimes began to expand its business to Africa in 2002, and has been working closely with African governments to jointly implement digitalization and promote informatisation. It now targets 40 countries across Africa.As part of a summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in December 2015, the 9th project China is committing to set up TV access in 10 000 villages across Africa.
Above: 'the african wall' at Startimes office in China.
Above: Startimes office's studio in China.
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