Satellite beats cable across Europe
Wednesday, 17 March 2010

SES Astra's latest numbers show the strength of satellite in Europe grows and grows, with satellite homes overtaking cable homes for the first time ever.

Yesterday a UK terrestrial network (Ch 5) decided to place its HDTV eggs firmly onto the satellite market, having not been able to secure ‘terrestrial’ distribution. Ch 5 becomes BSkyB’s 42nd HDTV channel. The move isn’t surprising given the instant audience satellite delivers. The satellite story, as far as SES Astra is concerned, is more than spectacular. SES says they have added 3m new satellite homes in Europe over this past year, and that the number of European satellite homes now exceeds that of cable. Moreover, satellite is now almost totally a digital audience, while cable lags behind with barely one third of homes viewing digital channels.

SES Astra is now broadcasting to 125 million TV homes across Europe and North Africa, 3 million more than the year before. For the first time, satellite reaches more households than cable in Europe, with 77 million satellite and 71 million cable households. Terrestrial infrastructures reach 86.5 million households; however, not even half of them (48%) are digital.

The digitalisation rate of satellite increased to 92%, with a total of 71 million out of the 77 million satellite households being digital. Cable still shows the lowest digitalisation rate, with one third or 34% (24 million) of all 71 million cable households being digital. IPTV is 100% digitised and reaches 9 million households across Europe.

In high definition, Astra counts around 6 million HD viewing homes and currently broadcasts 114 HD channels. The success of HD is underpinned by the high number of HD screens sold across Europe. 125 million HD Ready TV sets have been sold since the start of HD in 2005. It is expected that by 2013, an estimated 55 million households will be equipped with both an HD Ready TV set and a suitable HD receiver. Satellite is expected to remain the largest distribution platform for HD.

“The significant increase in reach and the success of SES Astra are based on a stable business model and on strong drivers which allow us to develop our business despite the difficult market situation,” says Ferdinand Kayser, President/CEO SES Astra. “The underlying dynamics of Western European key markets, and the growth in Eastern Europe, impressively demonstrate that we are able to maintain our competitive position and further develop our reach, in technical and commercial terms. Whether in HD, hybrid reception or 3D TV, we are extremely well positioned to play a leading role in ...ure innovations.”

Astra’s highlights:

* Total of 244 million analogue and digital TV homes in Europe
* Astra fleet reaches 125 million analogue and digital TV households in Europe and North Africa (57 million Direct-to-Home, 68 million through cable head-ends)
* Around 60% or 146 million TV homes receive programs digitally (includes all reception modes: satellite, cable, terrestrial, IPTV)
* Satellite serves every second digital TV household and reaches 71 million digital homes (49% of the digital market); cable reaches 24 million digital homes (16%), terrestrial reaches 41.7 million digital homes (29%), IPTV reaches nine million homes (6%).
* Astra serves 52 million digital satellite homes (72% of all digital satellite homes)
* Astra currently features 114 HD channels and reaches around 6 million HD viewing homes
* Digitalisation rate of satellite is 9%, compared to 48% for terrestrial reception and 34% for cable networks

(Source: Rapid TV News)