China’s StarTimes expands in East Africa’s Pay-TV market

Chinese Pay-TV operator, StarTimes, is emerging as a major player in the East African Pay TV market.

Digital Terrestrial TV as well as Direct-to –Home services are slowly picking up pace in East African nations, thanks to the analogue signal switch-off drive in the continent. StarTimes is making the most of this digital TV migration by expanding subscriber base via affordable channel packages and local content. What’s more is that the operator is focussing on the mass market; unlike its competitor MultiChoice’s DStv, which is concentrating on the high-end customers.

According to Dataxis Research, StarTimes has edged MultiChoice in terms of overall market share in East African Countries with 39% against 38%. The largest single platform was StarTimes DTT with 34% market share, followed by the MultiChoice DSTV satellite offering (20%) and its GOtv DTT service (18%). StarSat, the StarTimes DTH offering, accounted for a further 4%.

East African countries had 146.89 million end-2014, with 33.61 million households and a TV household penetration rate of 23%. The largest TV market was Kenya with 12.04 million households and a TV household penetration rate of 32%. Uganda had 7.35 million households and a TV household penetration rate of 25%. Tanzania, one of the few African countries to have completed DTT migration in June this year, comes third with 9.8 million households and a TV household penetration rate of 17%.

Rwanda switched off analogue TV signals in 2014 while Kenya migrated to digital TV in March this year, Dataxis says.

In related news, StarTimes recently signed a new multi-year agreement with SES Platform Services to deliver TV services in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We want TV audiences in Africa to perceive StarTimes as a reliable DTH platform operator broadcasting engaging content at competitive rates to its subscribers,” said StarTimes Group Chairman and President Pang Xinxing, according to a recent statement released by the company.

The Pay-TV operator has also announced its plans of expanding its operations in eight more locations in Kenya. StarTimes has also signed content deals with major sports championships to woo subscribers.