Eutelsat has reported that its overall channel count has fallen over the six months to December 31st.
The satellite operator said that its overall channel count was down 3.9 per cent year-on-year to 6,608 units (from 6879 in December 2019), reflecting a lower line-up at five degrees West following technical issues on EUTELSAT 5 West B, which led to a reduction in certain services, an anticipated reduction in the Sky Italia line-up reflected in the contract renewal with lower volumes compensated by higher prices.
Other technical factors included the ending of temporary dual illumination and contribution channels, the natural erosion of the business of distributors in Europe, which this year is not offset by new business, and fewer C-band channels following the reallocation of frequencies in the US.
However, HD channel growth continues reaching a penetration rate of 27 per cent at 1767 channels, four points higher than a year ago.
“All major orbital positions contributed to this progression. At the same time, the number of MPEG-4 channels was up 1 per cent and penetration of MPEG-4 at 72 per cent continues to substantially exceed HD,” said Eutelsat’s CCO Michel Azibert.
Indeed, over the past couple of years (since June 2017) HD channel penetration has grown from 1097 channels to today’s 1767, a rise of 61 per cent over the period.
Eutelsat’s all-important contracted backlog is also up. The company said: “The backlog stood at €4.4 billion as at the December 31st 2020 versus €4.3 billion a year earlier and €4.1 billion at the end of June 2020. This includes the capacity commitments secured with TIM on Eutelsat Konnect and Konnect VHTS, but not yet the additional EGNOS payload. The backlog was equivalent to 3.4x 2019/2020 revenues with Broadcast representing 67 per cent of the backlog.”
The number of operational transponders at the end of the year 2020 stood at 1380 down by 7 units on end June 2020. This reflected lower operational capacity at 5 West following the transfer of services from EUTELSAT 5 West A to EUTELSAT 5 West B in January 2020; and on the other hand incremental capacity brought by EUTELSAT 7C in January 2020.
Operational usage of transponders stands at 70.1 per cent (at December 31st 2020) and up from 69.7 per cent a year ago.
Eutelsat has a strong launch manifest despite some inevitable slippage because of the Covid virus:
· Eutelsat Quantum 48 deg East Q2/2021
· Hotbird ‘F’ 13 deg East H2/2021
· Konnect VHTS H1/2022
· Hotbird ‘G’ 13 deg East H1/2022
· Eutelsat 10B 10 deg East H2/2022