There are a handful of subscription-based and free-to-view direct-to-home satellite TV services that operate in South Africa, including DStv, StarSat, and OpenView HD.
Many users of direct-to-home (DTH) services may know about the satellite technology used to deliver their favourite shows, but how do the channels make their way onto the satellite in the first place?
The way a channel is prepared before being sent to DStv for broadcast over Intelsat’s IS–20 depends on the channel’s origin and type of content.
Discovery Channel, for example, is put together overseas for the DStv platform by Discovery Networks. It is then “backhauled” to DStv in South Africa, where it is prepared for broadcast before being uplinked to IS–20.
A locally-produced channel that aggregates content from various sources, such as M-Net, goes through a different process, as do live broadcasts on channels like SuperSport.
When a new episode of Elementary or Gotham comes in, M-Net must first convert it into the correct resolutions and formats for both its standard and high definition broadcasts.
Once the content is transcoded, M-Net schedules it for play-out and sends it to IS–20 via its satellite uplink.
During a live broadcast on SuperSport, cameras send the video they capture from the sports field to an outside broadcasting (OB) van.
The decision of which shots and camera angles to use is made in the OB van, and the feeds are sent back to a control room via a studio or satellite link.
At the control room, the live feeds are mixed with studio or commercial content that is then sent up to IS–20 over MultiChoice’s satellite uplink.
The infographic below illustrates how these three different types of channels are put together before being beamed down to your decoder.
Thanks to MultiChoice for their assistance in putting together this article and infographic.