Euro HDTV builds momentum

Elsewhere in this issue we report on how SES Astra is now beaming more than 40 HD channels over Europe for various clients. That number will increase dramatically towards the end of this year. BSkyB alone will take the Astra total to nearer 50, for example. But a study from Screen Digest says there’s still a disconnect between the number of homes where there’s an HDTV-equipped set that’s not being used for broadcast high-def.

Screen Digest confirms the SES high-def numbers, saying that there were more than 1.2m homes across Europe viewing HD programming at the end of last year. But this is still a miserable number considering Europe’s 29.8m homes with “HD-Ready” devices installed. North America, also at Dec 31, had 32.3m HD-Ready sets in use, and an impressive 19.3m viewing HD.

Screen Digest (SD) says this will change by 2012. While North America will continue to stay well ahead in the take-up of HD programming (SD says 69.4m high-def homes, out of 116.3m HD-ready homes), Western Europe will have an impressive lead in terms of HD-equipped homes (144.8m) but only 32.6m will be fully utilising their set’s capability. Of course, some may be happy to view Blu-ray discs, home videos and console games, all in glorious HD, but not taking up a broadcast HD service.