The FINANCIAL — Claiming to be the world’s leading satellite broadcasting company and backing the claim up with staggering numbers, SES satellites are delivering service to more than 355 million households worldwide.
With the global reach of 99% and more than 70 satellites at its disposal, SES has quickly emerged on the Georgian market.
THE FINANCIAL recorded an interview with Daniel Cop, General Manager Sales Nordic, Baltic & Eastern Europe at SES and Ricardo Topham, Senior Market & Business Analyst at SES.
In barrage of questions, the duo covered many fundamental questions as well as ones specified to the Georgian market.
What is the number of Satellite users in Georgia?
Ricardo Topham: According to the latest conducted survey (2018) in Georgia, there are 410,000 active users who are receiving a satellite service.
Q. What is the number of channels distributed by Satellites in Georgia?
Daniel Cop: With MagtiCom being our main customer in Georgia with their DTH service, there are around 120 channels, consisting of local and international ones. On top of that, there are numerous TV channels that are using SES satellites to distribute their TV channels signals from the Western Europe to cable and IPTV distributors into Georgia.
Q. How would you estimate the Georgian Market and what is the market share of SES satellites?
Ricardo Topham: The recently conducted survey with the help of local agency indicates that with both direct and indirect services SES satellites are covering just over 60% of the market. The data was collected based on interviews that were spread across the entire country in order to accurately have the full national picture.
As for the satellite service specifically, out of those 410 000 TV homes that are under the reach of SES we are providing service to more than 120 000 households, so it is clear to say that we hold around one third of the satellite market share in Georgia.
Q. What are the main characteristics of Georgian users in terms of TV watching?
Daniel Cop: Through my 9-year experience of doing business in Georgia, some significant changes in media consumption are visible.
Mainly I would highlight the fact that some channels have become drastically easier to access, mostly local media.
As for the title of the most popular, sports channels are being demanded the most and are broadly available across the Georgia by SETANTA, SILK SPORT and many more.
Ricardo Topham: I would like to complement and mention the existing two trends that we have identified, the first one is that customers are ready to enjoy HD and Ultra HD TV content.
The second trend is that numbers show linear TV is as highly demanded as online portals such as NETFLIX, Amazon Video, Youtube, and so on.
In fact according to our statistics, households simply want flexibility. They want linear TV for Sports, for big shows and movies and more up-to-date content and then they want NETFLIX and others because of flexibility and also the programs and shows they offer which are not available elsewhere. So, to summarize we can say that they prefer linear TV to stay up to date and online TV to provide flexibility.
Daniel Cop: Also it is an important detail to add that Georgians mainly watch local channels on TV.
Q. Would you say that Language barriers are the most determining factor for watching local channels?
Daniel Cop: No, I would say that the most determining is that Georgians simply want to keep up with the big shows like dancing with the stars or to watch local news, only after that demand is satisfied, are people ready to have the national geographic and discovery channels on top.
Q. What would be the main advantages of satellite broadcasting versus cable broadcasting?
Ricardo Topham: The main advantage is that the enormous reach that satellite has, the advanced technology enables us to cover even the most remote areas. ASTRA 5B satellite serving the Georgian market is covering the whole Caucasus region with the help of its UBIQUITOUS coverage.
When it comes to the cable and IPTV service, there is a limitation due to the need to have physical wires installed.
I would also like to mention the guaranteed high-quality of service, whereas while broadcasting via cable and IPTV, delivery is sometimes interrupted by network problems, network errors and so on. With our service, we can proudly say that as long as the satellite is orbiting the earth, not a single thing will interrupt the broadcast of TV channels.
Q. How cost efficient is satellite broadcasting compared to cable broadcasting?
Ricardo Topham: The cost-effectiveness of satellites is clear, you put up a TV channel on one of our satellites and you instantly have access millions of users. As an example: just by putting a channel of the ASTRA 5B satellite, you have already reached all of Georgia!
When it comes to cable and IPTV, to reach new users you need to expand the network.
Just mere imagination of the long installing process of copper wires and optical fibre that cable and IPTV broadcasting require, creates awareness of how cost-efficient satellite be when it comes to the massive scale of service.
Q. What are the opportunities that Georgia presents to SES?
Daniel Cop: We are honored to be partnered with companies such as MagtiSat. When they wanted to launch DTH platform, SES satellites was their choice, so the partnership has been strong ever since.
We have managed to assemble all Georgian channels under the position of one satellite, however, we are constantly seeking ways of development in order to see what channels can be added for improved service.
One has to keep in mind the relatively small scale of the Georgian market, where out of three DTH operators we have teamed up with the strongest representative of them.
Q. How different are the Georgian regulations of broadcasting compared to EU’s?
Daniel Cop: The changes probably started a few years ago, with the advertising blocks per hour. Before such regulations existed TV channels could have 40 minutes of advertising out of one hour!
Currently, Georgia is strongly adapting to the regulations of the European Union.
Q. What is the future of satellite broadcasting?
Ricardo Topham: The future is undeniably bright, satellites provide users with a very high-quality service at a scale which is incredibly hard to achieve with other means of broadcasting, be it cable TV, IPTV, or terrestrial TV. SES is currently serving more than 355 million households worldwide, and these users are given quality that can not be beaten by any other infrastructure.
By Gela Megeneishvili