The percentage of television households in South Africa relying on free-to-air terrestrial services will fall by almost a third in the next three years as pay-satellite, pay-terrestrial and streaming alternatives continue to grow.
Research firm Dataxis predicts in a new report that the number of households relying on free-to-air services delivered terrestrially will decline from 48,2% at the end of 2015 to just 34,5% at the end of 2018.
Total TV-owning households will grow by 10% over the same period, to reach 13,3m.
According to the Dataxis report, about 43% of TV households will need to get a free-to-air digital set-top box or receiver by the end of 2016, the equivalent of 5,4m units, if the country is to switch off analogue broadcasts by that date.
Dataxis notes that communications regulator Icasa is set to license new players to compete with incumbents, public broadcaster the SABC and commercial broadcaster e.tv, despite the expected decline in free-to-air TV in South Africa.
“Icasa recently held public hearings in respect of four applications for free-to-air TV broadcast licences from Rubicon Investments, Hola Media (backed by Liquid Telecom, the pan-African fibre telecommunications firm controlled by Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Group), Change Network and Infinity Media (jointly owned by Essel Media, Oakbay Investments and Mabengela Investments), which controls the African News Network (ANN7),” the company said.
South Africa will have a total of three digital terrestrial TV multiplexes.
The first multiplex has been 85% allocated to the SABC for the broadcast of 17 channels. SABC will launch with five channels, SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, SABC News and the repeats channel SABC Encore, Dataxis said. The remaining 15% of the spectrum has been allocated to existing community TV channels.
Multiplex two has been 55% allocated to e.tv with a possible 11 channels, and 45% to M-Net with a possible nine channels.
Up to 55% of the third multiplex will be assigned to one or more commercial free-to-air broadcasters, and up to 45% will go to one or more commercial pay-TV providers.
“Icasa has already confirmed a pay-digital terrestrial TV license has been issued to Siyaya TV, with conditional licences awarded to Close TV, Mindset TV and Kagiso TV,” Dataxis said. — (c) 2015 NewsCentral Media