Satellite Pay-TV Goes Through Five Euros Barrier
[12-19-07 – Satellite News] French broadcaster AB Groupe has launched a new satellite pay-TV platform, BIS, hoping to exploit the demand for low-cost pay-TV in France.
The basic package consists of 25 channels for a price of 4.90 euros ($7.18) a month and will throw down the gauntlet to the more expensive satellite, cable and IPTV offers, said Gregg Bywalski, marketing and development director at AB Groupe.
“For the first time in Europe it is an offer under 5 euros a month,” Bywalski said. “We have done a few studies on the market and there was a tremendous demand for a low-cost offer of TV. In France, the lowest offer in terms of pricing is 30 euros ($43.99) per month. It can go up to 100 euros per month. Some people don’t need all these channels. What do people expect from a new bouquet of pay-TV? They are ready to have less channels if this bouquet offers them a much lower price. We have answered the demand from the public by launching that low-cost offer, and we are responding to an existing demand.”
The idea for the BIS platform originated a few years ago, when satellite pay-TV operators TPS and Canalsat, who have since merged, engaged in a price war. “A few years ago one of the existing bouquet launched a promotional offer a bit over 10 euros ($14.67) per month,” Bywalski said. “At this moment we saw an opportunity. We don’t think anybody will be able to respond in terms of pricing.”
The platform will be distributed via Eutelsat’s Hot Bird neighborhood at 13° East and from Atlantic Bird 3 at 5° West, which Bywalski believes will provide a competitive advantage over other pay-TV providers by allowing the service to reach nearly 5 million households.
“Over 42 percent of homes in France are already equipped to receive digital channels, demonstrating substantial viewer appetite for the quality and choice digital can supply,” Olivier Milliès-Lacroix, Eutelsat commercial director, said. “We welcome the launch of BIS, which offers homes in France a compelling range of leading national and thematic channels. The availability of BIS from our two flagship satellite positions serving France is an important step towards building a fully digital broadcasting environment for all homes.”
AB Groupe hopes to attract about 200,000 subscribers in its first year and reach 500,000 by the end of year two, Bywalski said. AB Groupe also has launched a Web portal to offer online TV service. Once the satellite platform is up and running, there will be incentives for subscribers to take both the satellite and online television options.
“We believe launching BIS is a huge opportunity, not only for the AB Groupe but for the French market of pay-TV,” Bywalski said. “It allows broadcasters to have another platform to talk to. This low-cost offer is a big premier in France. We hope that BIS will take an important position in the market. We have a window of opportunity over the next 18 months and this is where we need to push BIS to have a sufficient position by the middle of 2009 and be able to have developed the market.”