HD technology selling, but content remains elusive

According to Screen Digest, HD technology has reached a tipping point in Europe, with take-up across the region accelerating rapidly. Despite the growing penetration of HD screens, the report identifies a significant content gap‚ caused by a lack of HD content on free-to-air platforms across the region. By the end of 2007, 18 per cent of the 165 million European TV households were equipped with HD displays – but less than one per cent of these (approximately one million) were fully HD enabled‚ (i.e. equipped with an HD set-top box and an HD subscription enabling them to watch HD broadcasts).

The report forecasts that by 2012 the situation will have improved little only 20 per cent of the 85 per cent of European households with HD displays will actually be watching in HD.

Screen Digest Senior Analyst and author of the report, Vincent Létang comments: “In the next five years, HDTV will remain little more than a pay TV product in Europe, primarily on satellite. Analogue switch-off, which will happen between 2010 and 2012 will free-up bandwidth capacity on the digital terrestrial platform and will kick-start the next phase of growth in HD TV. HD TV will become the mainstream and ultimately the standard form of free television around the middle of the next decade. In ten years time, nobody will ever refer to high definition‚ because HD will be everywhere.”

Screen Digest identified three critical success factors that will support the successful expansion of HD TV: Penetration of HD displays, supply of HD content and the availability of HD broadcast platforms.

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