Advanced Television

Asian sat-operators need LEO help

June 5, 2024

By Chris Forrester

The overpowering message to emerge from last week’s Asia Satellite Industry Forum is that the likes of SkyPerfectJSAT, AsiaSat, Measat and ABS are all missing the potential business that could flow from low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites.

The key speakers all admitted that partnerships with LEO players would help relieve the slow, but steady, decline in their DTH video businesses and the gradual drift by clients from their geostationary fleets to services offered by the likes of Starlink, OneWeb and other regional LEO operators.

Raymond Chow, AsiaSat’s CCO, told delegates that AsiaSat was looking to develop relationships with non-Geo operators although depending on client needs. “We want to offer value that customers can use to drive their business,” he added.

Satellite-delivered television is extremely popular throughout the region, and Mr Chow said that video was still near-60 per cent of AsiaSat’s revenues, but he – and his fellow speakers – recognised that video distribution and viewing was not restricted to satellites.

Mark Rigolle, the newly appointed CEO at ABS (and a former CFO at SES) said that his business and its charges to customers remained steady, but nevertheless he wanted to see further adaption of its business models to include non-geostationary links. He said that by combining both, ABS would be able to improve customer experiences. ABS was re-aligning its wholesale model, depending on what the customer wanted. However, he admitted that the risk now was that smaller channels would abandon satellite in favour of OTT.

That situation was echoed by MEASAT and COO Yau Chyong Lim told delegates that video was in a “down trend” and his role was to manage that downturn. MEASAT has about 10 million viewers of its portfolio of TV channels.

Japan’s SkyPerfect JSAT currently depends on its fleet of 15 geostationary satellites, and has a new craft on order from Thales Alenia (JSat-31) but has also signed a partnership agreement with Amazon’s Project Kuiper for LEO broadband services.

Kenichi Shimotsuma, the company’s regional director, also admitted that its broadcasting services were slowly shrinking and were unlikely to recover, but he stressed that satellite broadcasting was unlikely to die out completely.

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