Digital Television is Transforming the Viewing Experience for African Households

By Rob Cerbone, Vice President and General Manager, Media (Intelsat).

The digital terrestrial television (“DTT”) transition is a big opportunity for broadcasters to offer more differentiated content to African viewers. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone the number of TV households are expected to grow by 43 million since 2016, reaching 131 million by 2023, according to September, 2018 research from Dataxis. With Africa expected to be the fastest-growing TV market in the world, digital television will enable broadcasters to differentiate their service offerings, increase market share, open new revenue possibilities and importantly, bring more entertaining and informative, high quality content to viewers throughout Africa.

Some nations in Africa have already completed the transition, significantly improving viewers’ experience while making valuable spectrum available for other services. That means clearer picture quality and high definition (HD) content, more channels, access to new programming and more content choices for viewers.

While the promise of digital terrestrial television (“DTT”) is compelling, the reality of migrating to DTT can be daunting, costly and challenging to implement for many governments and broadcasters.


Intelsat has helped broadcasters around the world making the digital switch. Multichoice’s GoTV, the largest DTT and direct-to-home provider in Africa, has relied on Intelsat’s redundant and resilient satellites and expertise to successfully launch their DTT solutions across 12 countries, enhancing the viewing experience for more than 2.9 million people. Similarly, the Africa Digital Network Limited (ADNL), a consortium of two Kenyan media companies, leveraged Intelsat for DTT rollout, delivering content to the entire population, including many rural and remote areas.

As with Multichoice and ADNL, many broadcasters around the world have counted on the reliability, reach and scalability of Intelsat’s satellite solutions to cost effectively make the digital switch. For example:

  • In Africa DTH and DTT will serve 98% of Africa homes by 2022. Intelsat has the largest video neighborhoods in Africa with seven satellites broadcasting 900 channels. And it’s not just Africa where Intelsat’s leading video neighborhoods offer unprecedented reach. African broadcasters can reach their diaspora all over the world through Intelsat’s premier video neighborhoods.
  • It has the benefit of speed. Broadcasters can transmit signals to satellite and instantly reach viewers. By leveraging Intelsat’s satellite solutions with the IntelsatOne terrestrial network of redundant fiber and teleports, broadcasters can focus on growing their audience rather than building expensive infrastructure.
  • Our high-throughput satellites in Africa, Intelsat 33e, Intelsat 35e and Intelsat 37e, are enabling companies to access higher performance bandwidth which is well-suited for supporting a fast, cost efficient and reliable DTT transition.
  • Intelsat’s proven, high quality network can deliver HD content today, but is also capable of delivering 4K and 8K content through our premier video neighborhoods in Africa and around the world.

Finally, Intelsat’s satellite solutions enable broadcasters to grow their audiences, not their costs. The cost to broadcasters doesn’t change whether they reach hundreds of thousands, millions or tens of millions on Intelsat’s premier video neighborhoods.

African broadcasters have a big job, but they aren’t alone. Intelsat has partnered with leading broadcasters to smoothly migrate to digital, cost-effectively deliver high quality content, and reach more viewers.

ATEME Partners with NexGuard

ATEME, the emerging leader in video delivery solutions for broadcast, cable, DTH, IPTV and OTT, has partnered with NexGuard for integrating Network ID watermarking with BISS-CA (EBU Tech 3292-1) within ATEME’s product portfolio.

NexGuard’s Network ID solution inserts a unique invisible and robust forensic watermark in primary distribution feeds for linear TV, be it satellite or fiber. The watermark provides clear evidence of the distribution path to determine the source of illegally distributed signals (e.g. for live sports broadcasts). This allows the content owner to focus its anti-piracy efforts on the sources of significant piracy. The Network ID watermark also serves as proof of ownership to enable the take down of pirated streams (e.g. from social media).

The BISS-CA is an enhanced, secured solution of the BISS protocol, with dynamic rolling keys support. Unlike other proprietary solutions, BISS-CA enables interoperability of any standard compliant encoder and receiver, with a conditional access controller. BISS-CA within ATEME solutions is designed to minimise the risk of piracy of live content with crytpographic entitlements to be transported. It also makes provisions for further safety measures such as watermarking allows live content to be traceable, helping further to discourage piracy.

NexGuard forensic watermarking combined with BISS-CA in ATEME solutions provides the following benefits to content providers, right holders and service providers :

  • Secure: Traceable content, delivery and distribution protection printed by forensic watermarking
  • Agility: Enhancement of content protection with an anti-piracy disposal on the decoder and total control from the source of the content owner
  • Future-proof: Implementation of a new pioneer card, simplified and enhanced distribution workflow in protecting any type of content

“We are very proud to work with NexGuard with the deployment of security through Network ID solution and BISS-CA protocol to further enhance our offering across our entire product portfolio,” said Julien Mandel, ATEME Contribution Marketing Manager.

More info