From Sotires Eleftheriou in Paris
The AB group has concluded a range of deals ahead of its launch of the low cost satellite platform Bis Television next week. The basic Bis package costs just E4.90 a month for 25 channels, with film and adult add-on options costing an extra E4.90 a month each.
AB has just concluded a deal with the Arabic platform ART to include its channels as a further option. Also, AB has concluded alliances with box manufacturers and the distribution channels to roll out a range of STBs with the Bis label and including a viewing card in the package, for E149. The viewing card gives ten days of free viewing, after which it must be validated by taking out a monthly subscription.
Alternatively, a tuner with a viewing card pre-paid for one year costs E199, or a one-year pre-paid card alone for E99. These prices include E40 for the card itself.
Bis will transmit from both the Hotbird (13 degrees east) and the Atlantic Bird 3 satellites. A significant part of the target market is people who have already installed dishes for TPS but who want to reduce their pay TV budget or do not want to move their satellite dish. "By canceling their TPS subscription and returning the proprietary decoder, the refund of their E75 deposit will go half way to paying for a decoder they will own plus our package", said Claude Berda, president of AB group. "Then the price of subscription bears no relation to that of the monopoly platform."
The platform is also aimed at people who receive free to air transmissions from Hot Bird or AB3 (the analogue terrestrial channels), a total of almost 5 million dishes.
Asked about the failure of the AB Sat platform, Berda explained that it had been "boycotted by decoder manufacturers, obliging us to reposition as a channel supplier". He added that the 15,000 remaining subscribers to AB Sat would be encouraged to migrate to Bis Television. Bis aims to have 100,000 subscribers within a year.