Kerala-based television channel Asianet will now be available in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. The South Africa operations are through a franchise operation and the channel, which is free-to-air now, will turn into a paid channel by mid-December.
On what led to the expansion, Mohan Nair, COO, Asianet, said, “It started with letters from viewers requesting availability of Asianet. We also found a lot of local cable operators supporting us in the expansion. Hence, in South Africa, we are providing the service through franchise operation.”
Asked on the strategy, he said, “We have observed that when you start your operations advertising revenues start pouring. After that it becomes essential for a channel to grow keeping in mind the interests of the viewers. We tapped this opportunity to go beyond India. So now we have spread ourselves to the US, Europe, Middle East and now Africa.”
The channel has a special feed for South African viewers. On the technical aspects, Sameer Shamsudeen, Manager, Transmission, said, “The service will be available through Europe Star 1; signals will be encrypted in the coming months—first, the audio and then the video.”
Although the channel has been launched in South Africa, there is a promotional campaign lined up along with a grand launch in February 2005. On the promotional offers, he said, “We are looking at free packages and rental schemes but then this will depend on what suits the franchise operation.”
On the Malayalee population in Africa, Shamsudeen said, “There is a huge Malayalee population in South Africa but the problem is that they are scattered all over. This is one limitation we faced and decided to focus our strategy on South Africa.”