x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Abu Dhabi satellite beaming Dubai channels in high definition

Five Dubai TV stations are being beamed down to earth by an Abu Dhabi-owned satellite, under a deal between two state-owned entities.

An Abu Dhabi-owned satellite has started beaming five Dubai television channels across the region after a partnership deal between two state-owned entities.

YahLive, the TV arm of the Abu Dhabi satellite company Yahsat, said yesterday that it had begun beaming high-definition programmes for several stations owned by Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI).

The transmissions - which include programmes for Dubai TV, Dubai One and Dubai Sport - started last Thursday, said Mohamed Youssif, the chief executive of YahLive.

Mr Youssif said there was a "growing demand" for HD channels in the region.

"Broadcasters know that they need to deliver their content to audiences in HD or be left behind," he said.

YahLive is a partnership between the European satellite operator SES and Yahsat, a subsidiary of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

YahLive beams TV signals via the Yahsat Y1A satellite, which was launched into orbit in April. Signals can be picked up in more than two dozen countries in the Middle East, North Africa, south-western Asia and Europe.

The DMI deal is YahLive's second major partnership with a Dubai broadcaster.

At the beginning of this month, the satellite company said it had started transmitting seven HD channels owned by MBC, the Arab world's biggest TV broadcaster. These include MBC1 and Al Arabiya news service. YahLive also announced this week a deal to broadcast six Saudi Sports channels across Europe. The channels carry Saudi football league games.

Mr Youssif said YahLive would be announcing further TV partnerships soon.

"We have Kuwait TV testing, a Sudanese channel called Goon which is also testing on the satellite," he said. "There will be more to come very soon. We're about to make some good announcements."

All channels broadcast by YahLive will be HD. Mr Youssif has said previously that the satellite could eventually carry 80 to 200 channels, including pay-TV stations.

Mr Youssif said it was too early to measure the number of viewers of channels beamed by YahLive. However, he said the company planned to conduct an audience survey late next year after a marketing drive aimed at boosting viewer numbers.

In another TV distribution deal announced this week, the Abu Dhabi TV Network said it had begun delivering MBC's seven HD channels via its AD Sports set-top box.

Abu Dhabi TV - part of Abu Dhabi Media, which also owns and publishes The National - said subscribers would be able to watch the MBC channels at no additional cost.

bflanagan@thenational.ae