Astra extends European reach

From Colin Mann in London

Satellite operator SES Astra has significantly increased its reach in Europe, particularly in France, Ukraine and the UK, and is now broadcasting to 122 million analogue and digital TV homes across Europe.

At the heart of the increase in reach was the increase of Astra's digital satellite penetration across Europe. The satellite operator gained 6.1 million digital satellite households in 2008, reaching in total 47.2 million digital satellite homes (74 per cent of all digital satellite homes).

SES Astra's findings, in its latest SES Astra Satellite Monitor, indicate that 50 per cent or 122 million out of the 243 million TV homes in Europe, receive programmes digitally, with satellite's share – including other operators – proving to be a main driver of digitalisation, providing more than a quarter of all TV households or 52 per cent of all digital households with digital TV signals. The digitalisation rate of satellite, as an infrastructure, is three times higher (89 per cent) than that of cable networks (27 per cent).

Alexander Oudendijk, Chief Commercial Officer of SES Astra, said the results encouraged the operator to continue its strategy of being a neutral service partner for broadcasters, not investing in content and programmes, but in high-end technology.

Markus Fritz, VP and GM Marketing, anticipated there would be more than 100 HD channels across Europe by the end of 2010, and confirmed that the operator was in talks with TV channels about technical tests for 3D-TV. "It won't be mass-market tomorrow," he admitted, "but we're working with our customers and the consumer electronics industry towards an industry standard for 3D."

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