Vice President, Sales and Market Development for Africa at SES, Mr. Clint Brown, spoke with Emma Okonji on the company’s survey report on TV homes in Nigeria, which grew three million in 2015 to over 11 million in 2017. Excerpts:
Can you tell us more about SES as a global satellite company?
SES is a major global satellite operator. There are about four major satellite operators that are dominating the global satellite market and SES is the single biggest satellite operator among the four successful satellite operators in the world. We currently have 60 satellites, with over 90 per cent coverage of the entire globe and we have multiple platforms, providing high speed, high capacity with low latency. We are also competing very much with TV fibre cable operators because of the low latency that our satellite offers.
SES recently released its research data on television household viewing across Nigeria. What prompted the research and what exactly do you want to achieve with the data obtained?
The reason for our market survey is to basically understand how the market is growing and what data is available in the market for consumers and advertisers. The data obtained from the survey will help our customers have better knowledge of the market and with such information at their disposal, they can meet with the advertisers to inform them of their customer base that view through the satellite and this will help them channel their advertising contents in the most efficient way by taking them to the platform that records the highest volume of views. Advertising can be done in a number of different ways. It can be done by sponsoring a channel, providing airtime in-between programmes or by sponsoring a particular programme.
We made presentation of our research data to our Nigerian customers recently and the essence of the presentation was to share information, which we collected from the market place, back to the market place. We did a market survey on the number of television households in Nigeria and how the number of households are receiving television contents, and we also went deeper into demographics to know the channels through which they receive the television contents.
What were the basic findings of your survey report about the television viewing audience via satellite in Nigeria?
The data from our survey report shows that SES, a global satellite service provider has significantly increased its technical reach in Nigeria to over 11 million TV homes in 2017, up from three million in 2015. The growth figure was obtained from the recent Satellite Monitor research, a market study commissioned by SES that provides insights on the broadcasting industry and on SESâ€™s reach in the country.
The Satellite Monitor results revealed that SES now reaches over 11 million TV homes, of which 3.5 million are directly served by its satellite fleet – a two-fold increase compared to 2015. This means SES now directly serves 37 per cent of satellite TV homes in Nigeria. Digital Terrestrial Television(DTT) homes fed indirectly by SES also contributed to the increased reach.
What could be the key driver for the growth SES in Nigeria?
The prime orbital position at 28.2 degrees East was a key driver for the growth of SESâ€™s direct reach, with three million TV homes directly served via this orbital slot, up from 1.3 million in 2015. This video position hosts SESâ€™s premium free-to-air TV platform for Nigeria, giving broadcasters access to the highest technical reach in West Africa. The growth of SESâ€™s reach was also driven by direct satellite broadcasting and feeding DTT head-ends via five degrees East.
According to the survey, there are 35 million TV homes in Nigeria, of which close to 10 million are served by satellite, and the rest are served by terrestrial networks. The penetration of digital TV has expanded to 25 million homes receiving digital TV signals, which represents 35 per cent growth compared to 2015.
SES has been committed to driving the growth of digital TV in Nigeria for many years, and local partners in the country appreciate the Satellite Monitor study as a token of our commitment. We are particularly excited by our growing technical reach at 28.2 degrees East, which broadcasters and content programmers will be able to leverage to increase their audience via our Nigerian TV platform.
Based on your survey findings and data collection, what would you says about the growth of the Nigerian market in the area of digital content?
In the course of the survey, we gathered data which illustrates that the market place in Nigeria is growing and growing very fast.
What is clear about the Nigerian market is that default for delivery of digital services is satellite and this is not taking over fibre to a great extent, but satellite remains the medium for delivering television content directly to the home. So satellite is the foundation for the delivery of digital services, even though some people tend to dismiss satellite as old technology. In the current and next generation, we see satellite leading in content delivery and distribution.
Considering the growth of satellite in content delivery, compared to fibre, do see satellite displacing fibre anytime soon?
I am not saying that satellite television will displace fibre television because fibre is still relevant in content delivery to the home, but what we are saying is that with satellite, people have better opportunities to leapfrog quickly in the area of rollout. Fibre will still be used to deliver contents to the home but this takes a lot of time to do so, compare with satellite that is quicker and faster in rollout of digital contents. So satellite is the way to go, considering speed and wider coverage areas.
Despite the opportunity of speed that satellite brings, it comes with its own challenges when it comes to weather condition. What is your view about the effect of bad weather on satellite distribution of content?
Technology has improved the efficiency of satellite, especially in the area weather condition. Satellite used to have weather challenges in the past but technology has improved all of that. Satellite has become more robust and efficient, even with heavy weather condition.
The use of satellite in Nigeria and African countries is on the increase. What do you think is responsible for this growth?
The growth of satellite in Nigeria and other African countries is as a result of the recognition of the efficiency of satellite by people. It is clear that people are beginning to understand that satellite delivers effectively and more people are beginning to realise this. Again our satellite delivers strong digital content for viewers. Take an example of about 10 million to 11 million households, with an average of four people per household, it means that more than 40 million people are receiving the digital contents. So if there is an information for dissemination, be it education, health, commercial, or advertising, satellite remains that fastest way to reach the majority of people within the fastest possible time.
Having released your survey report on satellite usage in Nigeria and Africa, do you intend to partner any agency to further advertise the data from your survey report?
What we plan to do is to share the data with advertising companies. We have the data and the data explains the type of contents that television households are watching, and the channels through which they watch the television contents. So the data will help advertisers understand the different programmes that people watch, the interest of consumers and this will help them in their advertisement in terms of knowing the mass market and how to project advertisements to the right audience. So it will enable companies and advertisers understand their market audience and deal with them directly. Different advertisers, be it product, branding, health, sports, education, make use of available data to understand their target audience. So what our data is telling everyone is that on our satellite, advertisers and companies have the opportunity of knowing their market audience and focus on them.
So what is the differentiating factor between Satellite television, Cable television and Internet Protocol television (IPTV)?
IPTV is basically television with the internet and it is traditionally streaming as a linear television, and today there are many linear TV options available but I do not know the level of availability in the Nigerian market. Satellite can also deliver that if the consumer is using satellite broadband or satellite as an extension service on mobile and that is one of the things we do on our network. It also comes in the form of Direct to Home (DTH) and Direct to Terrestrial Transmission (DTT). The cable television is simply fibre to the home through the fibre transmission cable. But some cable operators will like to deliver content over satellite and this tells you that there are lots of different ways of transmitting contents but the most efficient way is what we are talking about.
So in all these content distribution channels you just enumerated, which of them is the most cost effective?
The cost effectiveness does not really matter to some people because they consider the efficiency, which has to do with speed of delivery. For satellite, the speed of rollout and content delivery is very fast and efficient more than any other channel. With satellite, we can rollout to 10,000 customers in a matter of weeks and such speed of rollout cannot be achieved with other channels like the cable, which is about fibre to the home that has right of way challenges in terms of getting government approval to dig up the ground for cable laying. Again there is the possibility and danger of digging up the cables during road construction or even through deliberate act by social miscreants, which will lead to cable cut and disconnection of flow of contents to the end users. The challenges of laying the fibre is also there, because the period of time it will take the cable operator to rollout to 10,000 customers, is the same period of time it will take satellite operator to rollout to 50, 000 customers.
MX1 is part of the SES family and you are working closely with MX1 to deliver satellite television content. How will you describe the business relationship between the two companies?
MX1 is a division within SES, which is the satellite company. So MX1 is the content aggregator and distribution value chain of SES. So what MX1 does is to take the content and shape it in the best delivery mode that the consumer wants. A lot of things go into shaping, which has to do with transcoding, provision of data and dubbing in other to provide hot and breaking news that will be very attractive to consumers.
What kind of contents do you expect your customers to develop that will drive and sustain satellite viewing in Nigeria?
We expect them to do more on content development and have varieties of contents that are of high quality. They should be able to make their digital contents attractive. So by the time they bring such contents to our satellite platform, we will give them the coverage and mileage they deserve.