SES (EPA:SESG) is capitalizing on gains in its broadcast business as the company announced Thursday that it has ordered two replacement geostationary satellites in Ku-band.
They will serve SES’ prime orbital slot of 19.2 degrees East to maintain the services that the company provides to European video customers and to capture new opportunities in the region, according to the announcement. SES was unable to comment before this report was published.
The company noted some improvement in its Video segment, though the business remains soft. In the third quarter, video year-to-date saw a 4.1% decline in revenues to about $891 million, compared with the same period last year. Then it had suffered an 8% falloff.
The company attributed the increase in part to the growth of HD+ broadcasts in Germany, improving international markets, and sports and events programs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, SES has raised its guidance for Video in fiscal 2021, now projecting $1.16 billion to $1.17 billion in revenues. The company previously forecasted $1.13 billion to $1.16 billion.
SES’ broadcast strategy is multipronged; the company said in late September that it has 60 public and private broadcast users in Africa, Asia and Europe of its cloud-enabled media service, which the company introduced in late 2020. The service enables TV broadcasters and channel operators the ability to prepare content in “minutes” since they do not need hardware, according to SES.
Wide- and spot-beam satellites
Thales Alenia Space will build the ASTRA 1P and ASTRA 1Q satellites, which are expected to launch in 2024, according to the SES announcement.
ASTRA 1P, a wide-beam satellite, will support SES’s prime TV neighborhood and enable content owners — private and public broadcasters across Germany, France and Spain — to continue broadcasting satellite TV channels.
ASTRA 1Q, a next-generation digital satellite with both wide- and high-throughput spot beams, will support direct-to-home (DTH) operations like ASTRA 1P. In addition, ASTRA 1Q is customizable in orbit and can be deployed to other orbital positions, enabling SES to serve the dynamic needs of its video and data customers well into the future.
In October, the Thales Alenia Space-built SES-17 launched a software-defined satellite that will serve the aviation market.
The current satellites operating at SES’s prime orbital neighborhood serve 118 million households, which equates to 43% of European TV homes, the announcement said. The majority of satellite homes in Germany, France and Spain are served by the ASTRA satellites. The number of TV homes receiving HD content from these satellites has increased almost 30% over the past five years.
The procurement of the two satellites was incorporated within SES’ existing capital expenditure outlook for 2021-2025, the company said.
“These two satellites will have the resiliency, reliability and redundancy that our video customers need, and will be able to deliver continued premium services well into 2040,” said SES CEO Steve Collar as part of the announcement. “Additionally, thanks to advanced satellite technology, we will be future-proofing our investment and injecting a high degree of flexibility into ASTRA 1Q to ensure we are meeting the evolving needs of all the markets we serve.”