Doors with Digicodes: Why Times of Plenty Are in Store for Pay TV Operators

Published Mon, 1 July, 16:43

Yuri Cherednychok, Director, XtraTV talking on Ukraine’s satellite TV market, change over from access cards to set top boxes, on packages and multi services offered and further encoding of the nationwide TV channels.

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Q.: 2011 might be viewed as the DTH platform birth year. What about Xtra TV today?

Yu.Ch.: As of today Xtra TV means 95% new employees. The young ambitious folks are introducing their new approaches and methods into the conventional satellite TV market.

Since its inception in 2011 we have managed to create a powerful brand. The Company has been subject to evolution and development period making a great step forward.

The access card system – that’s how we got off the ground and the model seemed quite a success for some time. The user intent to receive satellite TV services was supposed to buy an Xtra TV card and a tuner to match it. The model was quite convenient while users could choose a tuner at their own discretion and introduce the relevant card with the service itself being prepaid (no contract signed).

What we propose today is not just a satellite signal but multimedia service instead with the cards becoming history. Any subscriber the to the Xtra TV services would be able to watch the same content via satellite and in mobile apps. We have also made a relevant site for football fans. That means three screens instead of one.

Q.: You are going to stop using the Xtra TV cards starting April 1,2020? Why so?

We approved the decision in late 2018. The main reason for the decision is the need to protect the Xtra TV platform rebroadcast content from piracy attacks. Xtra TV cards have been broken and are easily and successfully «shared». We were aware of the necessity to heavily invest into new equipment, such a as set top boxes and the reliable Verimatriz standard signal distribution.

Thus we transfer our subscriber data base to set-top-boxes which means that any subscriber would stand to benefit receiving a lot more services,  say, e.g. a possibility to watch TV channels in HD quality. Moreover, the viewing would be accessible in mobile applications and on the site. Those choosing a new option would sure feel the difference.

Q.: How would you solicit new customers?

It was in spring that we launched an advertising campaign engaging digital channels, regional print media and partners/dealers/installers. We were first and foremost aiming at providing info on the switch to new set-top-boxes focusing on our services and in particular: 60 premium class channels and the rest of them available in free access , HD quality and multi services platforms.

Q.: Have you meant any channels with in-house production?

We are part and parcel of Media Group Ukraine, a huge media holding, incorporating Ukrayina – a nationwide leader in TV viewing, NLO TV, a youth channel, Indygo TV, a family channel, Football 1/Football 2 sports channels, regional channels, such as Donbas and 34 Channel and Sigma. All of them account for home grown products.

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Q.: Would you dwell upon the call center and its operation?

There two lines in this sphere, the first one – servicing and the second one – support. The first line is a partnership outsourcing contact center located in Khmelnytsky and Lviv. And the other is domiciled in our office. Both of them are in charge of technical support.

Our priority task is to cut the number of calls and applications to the call centers due to improvement and development of virtual payment and tuning services as well as to the  service management. Contact center stops to operate in compliance with the classical model, i.e. just receiving calls. Now it will deal with applications in social networks, answers to e-mail letters and inquiries from the site.

Q.: Why have you chosen Eutelsat 9B and Astra 4A for the signal propagation ? How many transponders do you have in lease?

All TV Channels within Media Group Ukraine and in particular, Football 1/Football 2 are located on Astra. 50 more premium channels offered by us are located on Etelsat.

Q.: What about hardware and software resources? Are they located in Ukraine?

Yes, they are. The TV channels’ streams are formed here to be further sent to  the uplink (satellite broadcast station receiving the streams via iP  so as to encode, scramble and multiplex them uplinking them to the satellite)

Q.: What is your vision of satellite television and its development prospects in Ukraine and worldwide?

There is no doubt that the future  lies in the hybrid: satellite +Internet. Ukraine’s satellite TV future is the direct function of the national channels being encoded on the satellites. The media group channels are main TV viewing drivers in Ukraine. The segment is free on the satellite as of now. Should the channels be encoded, the satellite segment would be subject to further development. The business would therefore become more attractive. And another satellite provider might appear.

Should that happen Ukraine’s entire pay TV market would be a great success. (As of this writing we learned about the encoding date being fixed - January 2020. Author’s note).

Q.: What is the Xtra TV sales drive today?

Football content, first and foremost. If you ask where to watch football matches via a satellite antenna (wherever you find yourself: at the satellite TV shop, radio market or Internet) you will hear a nearly unanimous answer: at the Xtra TV. I am proud of the fact that our team is the exclusive satellite rebroadcaster of Football 1/Football 2. Providing services to our football subscribers is a heavy responsibility and an additional load for our company. Whereas top football matches are usually broadcast in the evening flowing into midnight we are just obliged to keep technically «alert» at the time.

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