Friday, December 4, 2015

StarTimes' message to Africa's pay-TV operators: 'In 5 years we will be the digital TV operator with the most pay-TV subscribers in Africa'.

China's StarTimes has a blunt message for MultiChoice, Wananchi, Canal Plus and the African continent's other pay-TV operators: It says in 5 years it will be the biggest digital pay-TV operator in Africa.

Pang Xinxing, the head of StarTimes, the Beijing based pay-TV conglomerate that's been making huge inroads in Africa's fast-growing pay-TV market, has been visiting South Africa this week for the first China-Africa Media Leadership Summit held in Cape Town co-organised by Naspers and StarTimes, as well as for the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Johannesburg.

Besides the StarTimes brand in the rest of Africa, StarTimes, through StarTimes Media South Africa, now runs the rebranded StarSat pay-TV service in South Africa.

Pang Xinxing is clear: "In five years, we will be the digital TV operator with the most subscribers in Africa," he says.

"We will also strengthen content production by translating and dubbing more Chinese programmes and opening channels exclusively for Chinese programmes in multiple local languages".

Pang Xinxing says StarTimes - that currently has over 4 000 employees - 3 000 of whom are based in Africa - is now considering buying Chinese Football Association League games and introducing African soccer players to Chinese soccer clubs.

StarTimes will gradually start to introduce much more Chinese sports ranging from swimming and diving to gymnastics, table tennis and much more on its African sports channels.

StarTimes new 26 000 m2 African headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya will become operational in 2017.

StarTimes says it now has "over 440 authorised channels" on its pay-TV services, featuring news, movies, series, sports, entertainment, children's programmess, fashion, religion, music and lifestyle channels and content.

The channel's on StarTimes' platforms are broadcast in 10 different languages like English, French, Portuguese, Africa indigenous languages and Chinese and StarTimes says that "African channels take up the majority of all the 440 channels".

StarTimes in Africa now has 5 digital TV centres, 11 earth satellite uplink stations and 160 high-powered digital terrestrial television transmitters.

"StarTimes has managed to meet over 700 million African individuals, and is considered to be the fastest-growing and most influential digital terrestrial television (DTT) operator," says Pang Xinxing.

"We have one key goal, which is to enable every African household to have access to, afford and enjoy the beauty of Digital TV".

Pang Xinxing says StarTimes sees itself as assisting China to "create strong and mutually beneficial relationships in China".

Naspers chairperson Koos Bekker at the China-Africa Media Leadership Summit said MultiChoice is also embracing Chinese TV content on its DStv satellite pay-TV service.

"Three years ago we launched the Great Wall of Africa. This is a package of 11 top Chinese language TV channels broadcast all over Sub-Saharan Africa. It serves our Chinese DStv customers, as well as Africans who would like to learn more about this great nation".

According to the latest report of Digital Television Forecast in Sub-Sahara Africa released by Digital Television Study in the United Kingdom, digital television household penetration in Sub-Sahara Africa will soon exceed 50%.

It is estimated that digital migration to DTT will reach almost every African TV household by 2020.

It means that 20 million African TV households will appear in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.

Pay-TV revenue in Sub-Saharan Africa is $3.17 billion - estimated to grow by a massive 69% to $5.35 billion by 2020.