In essence, SES has always been enthusiastic about UHD. The format would represent an increased demand in bandwidth and would help provide valuable revenues over and above the somewhat shrinking – and digitally compressed – market that is Standard and High Definition transmissions.
As UK country manager Mike Chandler and SES’ Market & Business Analyst Ricardo Topham stressed during the SES Satellite Monitor webcast on May 13th, the world’s broadcasters are somewhat following the market.
The SES data shows that in Europe some 14.5 per cent of all TV homes are now equipped for UHD and up from 10.8 per cent in 2018, and that globally there are some 165 UHD channels (up from 131 a year previously). Topham said that if you look at the start of HD broadcasting and take the same 5-year view then UHD is “slightly ahead” in its growth curve.
“This is not slow progress. Remember, it is a new technology and there’s a whole chain of requirements to be updated by broadcasters and this is a sizeable investment. We expect this growth to progressively grow over the next few years,” commented Topham.
The UK position (as at 2019) for UHD shows that UHD receivers are already in more than 30 per cent of homes.
On the question of OTT vs Linear TV, Chandler told analysts that much depended on the attractiveness of the OTT offering. “If there’s something compelling on this or that OTT platform then it will be watched.” But he added that this enthusiasm comes and goes and as and when a popular series ends then viewers show less loyalty. “And sport is key as far as large pay-TV operators are concerned and satellite’s ‘always on’ system supports high-quality sport including UHD.
SES now broadcasts 60 UHD channels on its systems and 48 are commercial.
HD remains popular and globally SES delivers HD to 113.4 million homes, and some 61 per cent of European homes receive SES HD signals either via satellite or to cable, digital terrestrial or IPTV homes (and 17 million in the UK).