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TV5Monde CEO: No Ultra-HD Until Global HD is Reached

By Caleb Henry | October 13, 2015
Yves Bigot TV5Monde

Yves Bigot CEO, TV5Monde. Photo: Christophe Guibbaud/TV5Monde

[Via Satellite 10-13-2015] TV5Monde, a leading global French-language broadcaster, is watching developments in Ultra-HD but has no plans to implement such broadcasts until it meets its goals with High Definition (HD). The company reaches nearly 300 million homes in 197 countries and, according to CEO Yves Bigot, has a larger household audience now than ever before in its 31-year history. TV5Monde has fueled this growth by continuing to expand internationally. Bigot told Via Satellite that TV5Monde aims to continue bolstering its presence around the world ahead of tackling Ultra-HD.

“TV5Monde doesn’t have any plans to launch Ultra-HD channels before the global covering of the HD deployment worldwide,” he said. “The only possibility to move in that way would be to launch a new thematic TV channel from scratch, produced and edited in native Ultra-HD.”

TV5Monde produces, edits and broadcasts all of its worldwide channels in HD, but Bigot said the distribution opportunities for HD, particularly with cable operators, can be challenging. Today, the company’s channels are available and distributed in HD in France, Russia, the United States, and the Asia Pacific. Bigot said this depends on the willingness of the final operators in these countries and regions to allocate bandwidth for international channels versus local and national TV channels.

“We would very [much] like to expand our HD broadcasting to Europe and Latin America, and add more languages for subtitles,” he said.

With HD as a major focus, satellite could be an enabler to reach more markets if the price point is right.

“TV5Monde group is broadcasting all its 13 TV channels over more than 40 satellites platforms worldwide,” said Bigot. “The only additional satellite capacity TV5Monde will acquire in the next two years would be to extend its HD coverage in Europe, South America and Africa. Before this need for additional HD satellite capacity, TV5Monde group must have more than 10 headings on the same market to be cost effective. Under this volume, a connection, point to point, by optical fiber is more cost effective than a satellite capacity renting.”

This year TV5Monde launched the lifestyle channel TV5Monde Style HD on AsiaSat 5, with subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. Later, the company reached another agreement with AsiaSat to broadcast two more HD channels across Asia, with subtitles in English, French, Vietnamese and Russian. Measat and Globecast also broadcast TV5Monde in HD to 102 countries spread across the Middle East, Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa, and Spacecom broadcasts TV5Monde Afrique from the Amos 5 satellite.

Bigot said the increase in French speaking people around the world has contributed to TV5Monde’s growth. Africa, in particular, has seen strong developments and comprises the company’s core audience. Bigot said TV5Monde plans to launch a children’s channel in Africa in 2016. He also attributed growth to HD in available regions, and the number of languages for which subtitles are available. TV5Monde provides subtitles in 12 languages and plans to offer more in the future.

With many countries, especially in Africa, planning to switch from analog to digital television in the next few years, the landscape for TV5Monde will continue to evolve. Bigot said the switch-off could be a mixed bag for TV5Monde because it could spur operators to reevaluate channels.

“Sometimes it’s an opportunity for the operator to evict the channel, or to move it from an analog basic offer with millions of subscribers to a niche digital offer with few subscribers. The migration has to be evaluated, market-by-market and operator-by-operator. The consequences can also disrupt your traditional analog business model. In other cases, specially the markets where TV5Monde is not accessible in an analog offer, the migration to the digital will represent real opportunities,” he said.

From a satellite perspective, however, he views the transition as largely positive.

“The main point to moving from an analog satellite capacity to a digital one is the price of the capacity is usually nine or eight times less expensive,” Bigot added.

TV5Monde is also broadcasting through Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) globally, and has Over-the-Top (OTT) broadcasts available in France and the Asia-Pacific. Bigot said the satellite industry remains “quite indigent regarding the new usages offered by the Internet,” but that it remains the most technically and economically favorable carrier to reach large numbers of TV households and headends. This is especially true in regions such as Indonesia or Middle East where cable, IP and terrestrial networks remain underdeveloped. Bigot said TV5Monde has great hopes for the reach of TV5Monde Style HD in Asia and America and anticipates the buoying effect of the growing French-speaking population around the world will continue to translate into higher profits for the broadcaster.