Transponder renewals deliver for SES after German ASO

November 9, 2012 09.25 Europe/London By Julian Clover

SES has proven the satellite sector resilient to the current economic downturn with increased profits and a clutch of transponder renewals.

The entire capacity of 24 transponders held by Canal+ has been renewed for an extended period, while the BBC has also renewed its six-transponders on a long-term basis.

Although there was a significant impact from the German analogue switch-off (ASO), the number of households on the HD+ platform continued to grow. There are currently 2,800,631 active HD+ households, though at 761,456 were paying.

SES says it expects the number of paying households to exceed one million by the end of the year.

Third quarter reported revenue increased by 8.7% to €467.7 million, with the company also benefiting from favourable currency exchange rates.

The first nine months of 2012 have seen the successful launch of three satellites, two of which, SES-4 and SES-5, have now been brought into service. SES’ 52nd satellite, ASTRA 2F, was successfully launched on an Ariane 5 rocket on 29 September and is presently undergoing in-orbit testing.

The Group transponder utilisation rate at the end of September was 72.6%, representing 1,045 of the 1,440 transponders commercially available. The fall from 81% 12 months ago was due to the new capacity and the freeing up of transponders at 19 degrees East following German analogue switch-off.