By Balancing Act
Published December 6, 2013
The slow pace of the digital migration in Africa can be seen as a dark cloud hanging over the African TV market. The arrival of digital terrestrial television (DTT) will revolutionise the African audiovisual and telecoms landscape – when it finally happens – but it will also require major investments.
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.
Consultancy and research house ‘Balancing Act’ has focused on tracking the digital transition in African broadcasting since 2007 and looked well into the matter, watching DTT’s impact in other regions like Europe. The company released this second report’s edition on the topic in August 2013. This 160-pages report (+ Excel tables and PPT summary presentation) highlights the fundamentals and true value of DTT, issues raised over the transition (e.g. disruptive technologies), major opportunities and the potential options key stakeholders have to decide on. It was produced as a ‘must read’ for anyone involved in the digital transition in Africa.
Balancing Act found out that as of August 2013, only 8 countries in Africa have officially launched national DTT and close 2.5 million homes (and growing) now have access to DTT bouquets either on a pay or free-basis according to various sources including recent claims made by StarTime and GOtv executives.
In theory and from 2015, Africa’s 100 million TV households will 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 DTT households is a very wide gap to close. The switch represents massive investments in digital networks and training across the vast African territories. More than 500 African TV channels will need to convert their operation to digital technology.
The report shows how the public DTT process is composing with StarTimes (from China) and Multichoice (from South Africa) moves. There is a detailed analysis on how far each country has progressed with their DTT rollout so far – from setting a DTT committee, regulations, a signal carrier, DTT trials, DTT bouquets, the DTT network to finally launching national DTT.
Key stakeholders like 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.
Who will pay the huge bill to upgrade to DTT? Will it be the Government? National or foreign investors? TV broadcasters? TV advertisers? Or in the long run, will it be public that pick up the tab for the transition? For African governments, the objective is to make DTT widely adopted at home while securing public finances and expand the benefits of mobile telecoms’ usage. Will they all be successful?
The report provides readers with easy to use tables and charts 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. It is packed with 43 sets of tables, 11 charts, 8 graphs, and 3 maps. Data contained in this report come from face to face and phone interviews with local players, conferences with industry experts, guidelines, press articles and analysis from official sources.