Pay TV opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

By Frank Poppelsdorf, vice president, Product Management, Irdeto.

As consumer behavior continues to evolve rapidly due to technological advances in the pay TV space and the rapid growth of OTT, the market in Sub-Saharan Africa presents an array of opportunities for operators. According to the Sub-Saharan Africa Pay TV Forecasts report, released by Digital TV Research earlier this year, the number of pay TV subscribers is predicted to see an increase of 74 per cent by 2023, to 40.89 million. With this healthy forecast in mind, operators should be looking at developing services to excite consumers and capitalise on this fast-growing market.

While increasing global penetration of pureplay OTT providers (Netflix launched in an additional 130 countries, including South Africa, in January 2016) has led consumers to expect OTT functionality and content everywhere, pay TV operators can reap the rewards of the OTT opportunity while simultaneously sustaining strong traditional pay TV operations. The key to this is in coming up with ways of rolling out exciting new services and content while ensuring ongoing cost efficiencies.

Traditional pay TV remains essential

While global OTT growth has been impressive, traditional pay TV services are still hugely important in the region. Operators however, must still consider the evolving consumer requirements for speed and convenience for all content delivery channels. Crucially, they must look to capitalise on new methods of secure delivery of their broadcast content to serve consumer convenience and make the sign-on process easier and cheaper.

It is also important to balance the need for protecting content against cost pressures. In this case, rather than being a cost burden, high quality security should be an enabler for business growth by evolving to support an operator’s changing needs. A software-based security solution will allow operators to securely deliver content across devices, while providing a cost-effective and easily renewable solution to stay ahead of piracy and security threats without hardware dependencies.

As operators look to further develop and grow their businesses, they must also be able to create new revenue streams from different tiers of programs or services, which will require the management of subscriber entitlements. Conditional Access (CA) will ensure that different packages can reach subscribers from different income groups and it will also help operators address piracy concerns.

Content delivery strategies for the future

Whether looking from a global or regional viewpoint, there is no denying that increasing choice is changing consumer habits and demands. However, it’s clear that broadcast services will remain extremely important in the pay TV market in sub-Saharan Africa and the revenue opportunity is there for operators. The secure delivery of high-quality content will be crucial to capitalise on this and, as the market continues to evolve in future, operators will need to be looking to offer a hybrid STB with linear TV and OTT services.

Open platforms like Android TV can be the most effective and fastest way to future-proof a set-top box and explore new revenue-generating services. The first step towards this future is ensuring a secure digital TV ecosystem, where subscriber entitlements can be managed, with the security demands of premium content met.

The key to this is a 360-degree approach to security which complements Conditional Access. This means a combination of state-of-the-art security technology, proactive services delivered by experienced investigators and analysts, and comprehensive cybercrime business intelligence services. Security should be robust, but also act as an enabler for great service delivery. This will allow operators to securely deliver high value content, enable new revenue streams and secure future growth, taking advantage of the huge subscriber increases that are expected in the region in the coming years.

 

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