In Sub-Saharan Africa, many homes are gradually turning to DTH (Direct-To-Home) platforms for their home entertainment and news. Tanzania represents a Sub-Saharan African country that has since shifted its focus from terrestrial-based entertainment and embraced satellite as its primary source of broadcasting technology.
Today, over 56% of homes in Tanzania have access to satellite TV, and 81% of those homes are entertained by AZAM TV, the country’s leading operator. Powered by Eutelsat, AZAM TV has grown to reach 1.4 million homes and has solidified its position as the broadcaster of choice for Tanzania.
However, AZAM TV faced many challenges before becoming the leading national operator and using Eutelsat as their provider of choice. Let’s find out how AZAM, a new operator in a highly competitive market, became the major player in Tanzanian broadcasting.
The challenge for AZAM TV
AZAM TV is part of the Bakhresa Group, one of the leading Industrial Houses in Tanzania, East Africa. The Bakhresa Group owns and operates a vast number of storefronts and products that are available throughout Tanzania. There are a range of companies under its umbrella and with investments primarily in the Food and Beverage Sector, Packaging, Logistics, Marine Passenger Services, Petroleum and Entertainment. AZAM TV was their first step towards television-based entertainment.
When AZAM TV set out to launch a new satellite television offer in 2013, the population of Tanzania was not widely receptive to television as a form of entertainment, especially pay-TV. Access to disposable income, video streaming reception and general technology was extremely limited across the country. In addition to this, the Tanzanian market was already catered for by firmly established broadcasters who relied on terrestrial forms of connectivity. To breakthrough to this type of market, AZAM TV had to provide high-quality content at an affordable price without compromising digital signal reception. However, this would prove challenging in a country where only 25% of the population was covered by DTT in 2014 .
In addition to this, the local population who owned TV sets were seeking something different in terms of their entertainment. Not satisfied with existing ready-made content such as American soap operas and movies as it was the standard in Africa, Tanzanians were showing an increasing interest for local own programmes, including dramas and series. To capitalise on this, AZAM TV wanted to create their own studio to have control over all processes and thus grant customers the best quality of service. However, they were a new player in the market and lacked the experience and resources needed to fully develop a solid marketing, distribution and technical reach strategy.
If AZAM TV wanted to break into this market effectively, they needed help from an experienced and capable provider.
The Eutelsat Solution
AZAM TV met Eutelsat at Africacom in 2013. Upon discovering Eutelsat’s unrivalled satellite coverage of Tanzania, AZAM TV proceeded to work with Eutelsat to develop a solution.
It was clear that Eutelsat had the kind of coverage and the DTH experience that could grant the expansion of AZAM TV in East and Sub-Saharan Africa. The first contract was concluded for 108 MHz on satellite EUTELSAT 7A located at 7° East, with a full transponder added in 2015 on EUTELSAT 7B.
Eutelsat shared its experience on the installation of satellite dishes and helped AZAM develop a training programme for installers that allowed 500 installers to be trained in just over two weeks. The first bouquet of 55 channels, mainly in Swahili and English, was launched in Tanzania and five other Eastern African countries (Uganda, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Sierra Leone) on 6 December 2013 at a price equivalent to 8 USD.
However, accessibility was always going to be a challenge in Tanzania. With an innovative business decision, AZAM TV was able to tackle this challenge with the option of subscriptions being available for purchase in storefronts or via mobile credit.
People across the country could purchase subscriptions via their cellphones to access and tune-into AZAM TV, a first for the country. In addition to this, through the vast distribution network backing of the Bakhresa Group, AZAM TV was able to sell subscriptions to their service through stores across the country.
Supported by Eutelsat’s fleet of satellites, the reliability of AZAM TV’s broadcasting secured them the exclusive rights to broadcast Tanzania football matches including the Vodacom Premier League, the AZAM Uganda Premier League and other leading football teams in the region. AZAM further expanded their entertainment offering by setting up a TV studio for local productions and stories for the public.
The large network of stores from Bakhresa, in combination with AZAM’s content and Eutelsat’s technology quickly propelled AZAM TV towards the country’s first choice in home entertainment. AZAM TV’s broadcasts soon captured the imagination and attention of the local population, and satellite became the primary mode of reception with over 56% of Tanzanian homes equipped to date.
With Eutelsat’s satellite technology and support, we helped AZAM define their marketing strategy, distribution, training and technical reach. AZAM TV has since become a household name in just six years from its onset. In 2019 alone, it gained one million new subscribers, a real feat for television in Africa, reaching a total of 1.4 million.
“Eutelsat’s satellite capacity and unrivalled DTH experience enabled us to launch an exceptional entertainment offer. Throughout the years, Eutelsat has provided us with the resources and support that has greatly contributed to our success story in Tanzania and neighbouring countries.” says Jacob Joseph, Deputy CEO.
Today the AZAM bouquet boasts 120 channels, including national and international channels in Swahili, English, Arabic, Hindi, Somali, Telugu with five home-produced channels Azam One, Azam Two, Sinema Zetu, Azam Sports, and Azam Sports HD. AZAM TV is also available on mobile devices.
The broadcaster turned media house has also launched a solar panel powered television set to help reach more homes while still remaining affordable for the Tanzanian populace, and has expanded across Africa.
In September 2020, AZAM TV moved its video platform from EUTELSAT 7B to the powerful new EUTELSAT 7C satellite, which launched in June 2019. This satellite has been designed to strengthen AZAM TV’s position in Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda, as well as developing new audience in West Africa particularly in Ghana and Nigeria.