For the first time ever, the number of German households receiving TV via satellite has broken the 17-million mark. In the first half of 2011, direct-broadcast satellite was beamed into 430,000 additional households, taking the total up to 17.1 million. By contrast, cable TV is losing in popularity. The first six months of the year saw 260,000 households switch to a different form of TV reception. This has reduced the reach of cable TV to 17.9 million households. Digital terrestrial TV has also fallen in popularity. It has lost 300,000 households, bringing its coverage down to 1.7 million. However, internet TV has continued to grow this year. For the first time ever, IPTV in Germany has reached the one-million mark. The above figures are based on the latest Satellite Monitor results for the first half of 2011. The research was carried out by market research company TNS Infratest on behalf of SES ASTRA and in cooperation with the broadcasting institutions of the German states. Between May and June 2011, TNS conducted 8,000 interviews across the country. The figures were presented in Berlin today.

Satellite remains the driving force behind digitisation in Germany. There are now 14.5 million households using DVB-S – digital broadcasting via satelleite – which brings the percentage of homes that have gone digital to 85. Cable TV users are also going digital, but with the proportion at just 43 percent, the majority (10.1 million households) are still receiving analogue services.

Just 2.5 million households still receive analogue satellite services. That means the number of users fell by 400,000 in the first six months of 2011. The remaining homes have just eight months to make the move to digital satellite TV. On 30 April 2012 analogue satellite TV services in Germany will be permanently shut down.

Wolfgang Elsäßer, Managing Director of Astra Deutschland: “ASTRA remains the most popular choice for TV reception. More and more people are realising that satellite TV is ahead of the competition when it comes to cost, variety and quality. ASTRA households throughout Germany can receive – with no monthly connection charges – around 270 German-language programmes, over 30 of which are broadcast in HDTV. All they need in addition to a normal satellite dish is a digital receiver, which is available for as little as €30. We are confident that the remaining analogue households will switch to digital. I recommend everyone to make the change in good time. In 99 per cent of the cases it is sufficient to replace the receiver; we recommend to switch to an HD receiver straight away.”

The German product-testing organisation Stiftung Warentest also confirmed ASTRA’s leading position among digital TV providers. In October 2010 its independent testers found that, in many key categories, satellite is far superior to other types of digital broadcast. In addition to the wide variety of programming, a major advantage of satellite is that it costs nothing to receive it. The test found that private cable providers charge up to €17.90 per month. Compared to a cable connection, a satellite household switching to digital saves up to €215 per year – that’s more than €1,000 over five years. At users can compare how much it would cost them to receive their TV via satellite or by cable.

The leading TV trend remains HDTV. Germany now has 4.5 million satellite households watching content in HD quality. That is almost a third of all digital satellite users. An analysis by market research group GfK showed that the proportion of satellite receivers that are HD has also increased. In the first six months of 2011, HD had a share of 61 percent. In the same period last year, the figure was 55 percent. In absolute terms, the number of HD devices sold rose from 863,000 to 906,000. During the first half of 2011, a total of 1.531 million digital satellite receivers were sold in Germany. That’s roughly the same number as in the first half of 2010 (1.596 million). However, sales last year were boosted by major sporting events like the Olympics and the soccer World Cup, which have not been a factor in 2011.