SES Astra's top brass, Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO, and Alexander Oudendijk, Chief Commercial Officer, kicked off IBC tonight with an update to press and analysts on Astra's latest initiatives. Most significant is their attempt to wean German consumers off their favourite diet of free digital TV. 16.7 million Germany homes receive television through either their own or a community dish, and the vast majority of those watch only free channels. While analogue receivers are still numerous, the transition to digital is well under way, with around half now using digital receivers, again primarily to watch free-to-air channels.
On September 1st SES Astra set about trying to change this by introducing a "basic pay" satellite platform called Entavio. SES Astra serves as the service provider and business enabler, but the platform is intended to be open to any broadcaster or device manufacturer that conforms to the system specifications. An Entavio set-top box will still receive vast numbers of FTA TV and radio channels, but it also has built-in addressability and pay TV capability. At launch, Entavio customers can choose to pay €1.99 a month for the new Premiere Flex package. They may also opt for the regular premium pay TV packages from Premiere.
The plan sounds logical for broadcasters and device vendors, which are desperate to create additional value from the German market. But it would seem to be a momentous challenge to persuade millions of German TV viewers, who have never paid a monthly fee for TV, to start doing so, even if it is only €1.99 a month. Much will depend of course on what channels are on offer for this sum. There has been considerable controversy in Germany in the run-up to the Entavio launch, with arguments between consumer groups, regulators and broadcasters over the proposed migration of free channels to pay TV. I suspect there are many more battles to be fought before most Germans start paying up.
Over The Top or Round The Back? Exploring The Emerging Multi-Billion Web Video Landscape, Revenue Outlook and Adoption Scenarios
Attend Strategy Analytics' Analyst Forum
at IBC. Registration is Free.