4.6m Euro-homes now take HDTV

A study by Screen Digest says more than 4m European households are now watching HD transmissions, representing a quadrupling of HD homes during the year. However, this still represents just 1.8% of the potential viewing market, says the report.

HDTV broadcasts are now available in just about every European market, “mostly through pay-TV” says Screen Digest, with the UK and France taking the lead, although Spain and Germany are making “very little progress”. The number of HD channels doubled in 2008, to a total of 173 at year-end although some (eg: Discovery) are duplicated services. France had 20 high-def channels at December 2008, while the UK had 31.

While these are all impressive statistics, perhaps the most important statement made within the report is that all the conditions are in place “for an acceleration of HD uptake”. Screen Digest suggests that the level of consumer awareness as to the merits of high-def has risen significantly, displays are now affordable and take-up has reached critical mass (26% and growing), while prices for Blu-ray HD players have tumbled in cost.

Screen Digest says of the existing 4.6m HD homes spread across 26 Greater European markets (including Russia and Turkey) 3.1m are watching HDTV via a pay-TV supplier (and of this some 1.5 via satellite). The 4.6m HD homes is considerably ahead of Screen Digest’s original forecasts (2.7m) made in March 2006. The study shows that France has shown that it is perfectly possible to make HD progress outside pay-TV, helped by free channels available over-the-air on DTT.

Screen Digest has re-sharpened its forecasts, and is now suggesting the number of Greater European HD homes will reach 54m by the end of 2013 (and with 45m in Western Europe) and of this total some 38m will view through Pay-TV.