Globecast confident of Eurobird role

By | January 17, 2001 | Feature

France Telecom-owned satellite service provider Globecast says it will beam a new digital multiplex of channels to the UK from Eurobird, “and we may be taking extra capacity,” says CEO Sarah Williams.

“We have signed Extreme Sports already, and they will seamlessly transfer from Astra to Eurobird. We also have a number of other customers who have shown interest, including some which have put down a deposit. We are still in negotiation, but when Eurobird is in position we see ourselves with at least one multiplexed transponder fully booked,” added Williams.

Interspace understands that Globecast is also close to securing a a major contract from EuroNews, which is likely to take 4Mb of capacity on Eurobird for a minimum of five years. Globecast’s philosophy regarding Eurobird is always to be seeking to add value for its broadcast clients. “The interesting positioning of Eurobird with Astra opens up extra bandwidth, not only to newcomers but to existing broadcasters. Clearly we can now offer capacity to somebody perhaps wanting to launch a channel at just 2MB, or 4MB, and buy on a piecemeal basis with us offering a complete service including uplinking and offering a full service for them, and in the process making the total package a very cost effective way of buying into a prime market DTH position.”

Williams points out, “I am not a broadcaster but I feel I can stick my neck out and say that from where I sit the way the broadcast market is developing at the moment it seems that all the broadcast majors are busy developing add-on services, and from that regard they are all looking to diversify into new multimedia, interactive, tele-shopping-type services of one style or another. Some of them are even developing genuinely new and fresh product lines designed to add value, simply to remain viable, and I see this sort of movement as essential to them holding onto their brand, their broadcasting shelf-space if you like.”

She also believes there are still opportunities for niche digital channels to emerge. “From our own business perspective I hope that niche channels will continue to grow and prosper because this will mean growth for us and our market. But you do see an interesting historical evolution of niche channels. A few years ago you had the Weather Channel launch here and failed. If it launched here now, with the much lower costs of getting to that market, it is easier to see a much better chance of being successful.

“My point is that the dynamics of the market, with additional bandwidth from services like Eurobird, providing cost-effective pricing methods, even for small amounts of capacity means that one’s entry to market, at least as far as our type of service is concerned, is significantly reduced. So I see a huge future for niche channels that get their business model and consumer offering right. You can see all around that the chances of success – for these niche services – are stronger.”

Williams says the costs of reaching the viewer have never been lower. “Look at the model that existed just a year or two ago, where the cost of a transponder started at about $6 million [E6.37m]. It is a completely different environment today. The niche still has to be right, on the right platform, with the right business case, and we are likely to see a greater turnover in their numbers, because getting the formula right is not always easy. However, provided you are not going for an extremely wide amount of bandwidth then we can get you on air for well under £1 million, compared to about £4-£5 in the old days.”

Globecast’s revenue last year was some £30 million (E47.06m) “and we’ll add a good few millions to that sum this year,” says Williams. I see this really exploding and it’s really exciting. We already supply video+audio via satellite to PCs, and it will grow rapidly alongside the DTH growth, leading to another revenue boost for us.”


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