W. Europe will have 750 HD stations by 2014

There’s about to be some spectacular growth in the number of HDTV channels available to European viewers says Screen Digest (SD). It says HD channel growth is continuing strongly and is now reaching a level of maturity where genres that once would have been considered niche are becoming central to the HDTV content mix.

Indeed, there are some surprising trends emerging, says SD, where Europe shows the most rapid growth in the number of HD services, especially when compared to the US market. Growth is also forecast to be sharp in Central and Eastern Europe. “With a highly competitive satellite market in many countries in Eastern Europe, HD channels are the key means of differentiation,” says SD. However, the cable sector is itself active launching HD channels both to ‘catch up’ its satellite rivals, but also as a differentiator against the upcoming IPTV players.

But while the trends are clear, the growth of HD services is not uniform, with Germany, Italy and Spain lagging well behind the curve. SD expects Germany and Italy to make greater progress in HD services than Spain, for example.

SD forecasts that Western Europe is to have some 749 “unique” HDTV channels by 2014 (‘unique’ in that they are available in a given country). Central/Eastern Europe will add another 514 high-def channels taking the overall total to 1263. The UK leads the rush with 87 HD channels by 2014.

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