SES ASTRA announced today that it has extended its technical reach across Europe, and now serves 135 million TV homes in Europe and North Africa via its satellite fleet. This is more than half of all TV households in the regions. SES ASTRA`s Satellite Monitor, the annual market research study that measures TV coverage in 35 countries, shows continuous growth for ASTRA on all platforms and distribution modes, from direct satellite reception (Direct-to-Home, DTH) to High Definition (HD) and IPTV (TV over DSL). According to the study, ASTRA continues to be a driver of digitalisation and the most important HD platform in Europe.
SES ASTRA now serves 16 out of 20 million HDTV homes receiving HD directly from satellite. Its satellites carry more than 200 HD channels from all leading broadcasters. In the growing segment of IPTV - television delivered in Internet Protocol (IP) format over telecommunication networks - SES ASTRA also reaches a leading position as a technical provider. The newest market research shows that ASTRA satellites are feeding - through network head-ends - almost 10 out of 12 million IPTV homes.
In total, satellite is the largest digital mass infrastructure, with a digitalisation rate of 95 percent, serving 75 million digital homes. This compares to 29 million digital cable homes equaling a cable digitalisation rate of 42 percent. Almost every second digital TV home is therefore served by satellite today. Comprising analogue and digital reception, satellite increased its lead over cable networks, reaching 79 million homes, compared to 71 million for cable.
SES ASTRA`s platform for German HD programmes, HD+, also continued to show impressive growth. HD+, which now carries eight private encrypted free-TV channels in HD and also allows the reception of all other free-HDTV in Germany, has delivered more than 1.5 million smart cards to the receiver manufacturers who have brought more than 50 different HD+ receiver models on the market. 400,000 of these receivers have been sold as well as an additional 100,000 common interface modules which allow the HD+ reception on non-HD+ receivers.
"The steady growth of our technical reach, especially on future platforms and distribution modes like HD and IPTV, shows that satellite remains the most attractive digital infrastructure," said Ferdinand Kayser, President and CEO of SES ASTRA. "The success of HD is due to the technical advantages that our satellites offer, covering large territories with very cost-efficient and high quality signals and services. The speed of the HD growth proves that television remains the most important downstream entertainment media. Combining it with interactive telecommunication services in hybrid solutions, and partnering with telecommunication partners to do so, will be the next logical step in our strategic development and a main driver of our future business."