Europe in HDTV and channel leadership

SES and Eutelsat, Europe’s two satellite giants, are again arguing over the size of their organisations.

A few days ago Eutelsat proudly claimed it was now carrying more than 4,000 channels. Today (February 3rd), up pops a press release from SES reminding us that they are carrying more than ,5200 channels, of which more than 1200 are in HDTV.

To be absolutely fair SES is, by any measure, a much larger company than Eutelsat. SES’ global coverage includes the HD-heavy North American market, so in comparing the two operators we are not examining an apples v apples situation.

SES also reminds us that an increasing portion of the channel growth is coming from emerging markets such as Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa. SES now carries 44 DTH platforms, more than any other satellite operator in the world. In addition to over 5,200 TV channels, close to 1,000 radio channels are broadcast via the global satellite fleet of SES.

What this means in the final analysis is that SES does lead the satellite sector. Intelsat, a larger company than SES in the number of satellites it operates and overall revenues, doesn’t carry the number of channels or DTH platforms, concentrating more on governmental and telco traffic.

Nevertheless, Europe itself should be proud that it is home to both SES AND Eutelsat. By a bizarre stroke of financial expediency Intelsat is also officially domiciled in Europe, in Luxembourg. Its operational HQ remains in Washington DC, but its taxation HQ is in Europe.

In other words the ‘top three’ satellite operators are officially European. That’s an achievement!

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