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Info HDTV: progress 'faster than expected - 14-September-2008, 20:50

HDTV: progress 'faster than expected

SES Astra is currently carrying 46 high-def channels and expects this to rise to 55-60 by year-end. Alexander Oudendijk, CCO at Astra, speaking at IBC, said the satellite operator was confident of reaching and perhaps exceeding, our expected 100 channels by 2010.

Oudendijk said that todays 1.2m HDTV viewers in Europe were drawn from BSkyB (about 550,000 subscribers and 19 high-def channels including seven new services coming next month), Spain (50,000 today but likely 100,000 by year-end), Germany (Premieres 120,000 plus another 250,000 or so viewing free-to-air HD), and Canal+ in France with 120,000 homes watching eight channels today and another three to four expected by year end.

Oudendijk added that flat-panel HD Ready screens were also selling in much greater volumes than earlier anticipated. He quoted EuroConsult forecasts and GfKs latest sales data that stated that Europes adoption of flat-panel HD Ready sets were running some five years ahead of expectations. Astra now expected there to be 35m HDTV homes by 2012, with DTH satellite taking the lions share of some 14.5m homes.

One market in Europe which at least to date Oudendijk said had struggled to see progress in HDTV was Germany, but this also applied to Germanys slow take-up of digital TV. Thats now changing with 2m homes a year now adopting digital TV. In a few years German satellite TV viewing will be wholly digital, but this is not the position in cable.

Astra also announced that it is spinning off its broadband division into a new company, Astra Broadband Services (ABBS), with Norbert Willems as its new CEO. Oudendijk said broadband-by-satellite was now selling well, and that some 3000 connections a month were being made, and that Newtek, its broadband equipment supplier for the service, was ramping supply rates up to more than 5000 units a month by October.
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