German cable prepares for HD

By Robert Briel | June 10, 2009

German cable operators are preparing themselves for a sharp increase in the number of HD channels. Both Kabel BW and Unitymedia say they are ready for the challenge.

Kabel BW announced its network is ‘completely HD ready’ and will introduce a number of new HD channels, both as free to view and pay TV.
At the moment, the network distributes seven HD channels, five of which are free and unencrypted. The line-up consists of Premiere HD, Discovery HD, Anixe HD, Luxe HD, HD Campus TV, Euro1080/HD1 and Deluxe Lounge HD.

Kabel BW seems to be ready to distribute the new Premiere HD package, which will include Sky Cinema HD, Disney Cinemagic HD, Sky Sport HD, National Geographic HD, History HD and Discovery HD from July 4.

The free offer will include the ‘test channel’ from public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, which will broadcast showcase programming until the end of the year, including live HD coverage of the World Athletic Championship in Stuttgart in August (15 - 23). Both Kabel BW and Unitymedia confirmed they will carry the public HD channel.

Unitymedia also told the local press it will add more HD channels to its line-up, including the introduction of its own HD pay-TV tier.
Of the three former Deutsche Telekom networks, Kabel Deutschland KDG seems to be least equipped to carry a lot more HD channels.

According to local press reports, the operator will only carry two of the six Premiere/Sky HD channels, Sky Sport HD and Discovery HD. As a result, current Premiere subscribers on the network will lose the movies and TV series in HD they now enjoy on Premiere HD. However, KDG has confirmed it will carry the ARD/ZDF HD channel.

Cable operators will also look at distributing the new channels that Astra will bring onto its recently announced HD+ platform, which will include RTL and Vox.