New PremiumFree satellite TV service to take on DStv and Openview in South Africa

AfricaXP will expand its free-to-air satellite TV service, PremiumFree, to millions of satellite dishes in South Africa on 1 May 2021.

AfricaXP is a digital content distributor and themed linear channel creator which is focussed on Africa.

Through its PremiumFree service it aims to become the default multichannel satellite TV offering on the continent.

PremiumFree is already offering free-to-air satellite TV services in many African countries through two Eutelsat satellites.

In 2020 AfricaXP signed multi-year agreements with Eutelsat Communications for Ku-band capacity on two Eutelsat satellites, positioned at 16° East and 7° East.

This capacity enabled AfricaXP to extend the reach of its PremiumFree service from only West Africa to Eastern and Southern Africa.

AfricaXP is now further extending the reach of PremiumFree through a partnership with Intelsat IS-20 which covers most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking to MyBroadband, AfricaXP CEO Craig Kelly said their PremiumFree bouquet has been available across the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa – including South Africa – since April 2020.

The recent development is that they have acquired capacity on IS-20, which has excellent reach into homes throughout the entire region.

He said the capacity on Intelsat’s IS-20 satellite gives them additional coverage and direct access to over 40 million homes across this region with dishes aligned to it.

Many South African households have IS-20 aligned dishes connected to “closed” decoders that lock out other channels.

These viewers could now buy any low-cost free to air decoder and connect it to their LNB cable coming from the dish to receive the PremiumFree channels.

The operators of those services could also elect to “open” their boxes to allow reception of some or all of the free to air channels on IS-20.

As the service is free-to-air with no encryption or conditional access, users can simply tune in and use the service.

Intelsat IS-20 Premium.Free Coverage
Intelsat IS-20 Premium.Free Coverage

PremiumFree has been transmitting a pilot channel on IS-20 since 7 January. Its full bouquet will start testing in April and will be formally launched on 1 May.

The current PremiumFree bouquet offers 20 English channels with a strong focus on African content.

“Our channels are made in Africa, by Africans for the African viewer showcasing the cream of African production and local language talent together with the best international programming on offer,” it said.

The content includes themes like Hollywood movies, African movies and series, kids, telenovelas, sport, comedy, lifestyle, documentaries, faith, and education.

The current PremiumFree English bouquet includes the following channels:

  • Afriwood Blockbuster
  • Afriwood Series
  • Bongo TV
  • Pulse
  • Cinema Huasa
  • Diva
  • Fight Night
  • Sports Connect
  • Fresh
  • Gospel Life
  • Kiddiwinks
  • True African
  • Life TV
  • Limelight
  • LOL Africa
  • Romanza+ Africa
  • Passion
  • Riverwood
  • Synapse
  • Trigger

Kelly said they will add new channels from time to time going forward to offer the best possible viewing experience.

PremiumFree

AfricaXP’s PremiumFree will compete against MultiChoice’s entry-level DStv service and Platco Digital’s Openview in the affordable linear TV market in South Africa.

Launched in 2013, Openview’s free-to-air satellite TV service has shown impressive growth and it now activates over 35,000 households per month.

Last year Openview surpassed 2 million households which shows the strong demand for its offering.

Openview has an advantage over PremiumFree in South Africa because of its local focus. It boasts 18 television and radio channels, which include eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra, and eToonz.

It also carries all the SABC channels which are currently not currently available through PremiumFree.

Another competitor in this market segment is the DStv Easyview package. which costs R25 per month. It offers 30 TV channels and 95 audio channels.

While not free, DStv Easyview is affordable to millions of South African households and can therefore be seen as an Openview and PremiumFree competitor.

PremiumFree’s big selling point over Openview and DStv is that its bouquet of channels is broadcast unencrypted.

Broadcasting unencrypted means the service can be offered free of charge and makes it possible to receive the channels instantly on dishes and decoders already owned, installed and connected.

“It’s all about instant reach for us and with no extra equipment or cost for the viewer,” said Kelly.

Now read: DStv vs Openview – Prices and channels compared

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New PremiumFree satellite TV service to take on DStv and Openview in South Africa