The economy is recovering as subscribers ask for better quality
The Bulgarian market is trying to catch up with the rest of Europe, introducing DTT in mid 2013 and aiming to complete the transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting in September next year. This will allow for a higher quality picture and better viewing experience and for more channels to be broadcast in the same frequency bandwidth.
It will also present another opportunity for DTH companies, firstly by providing better picture quality, keeping more people in front of TV sets and making them willing to pay more for high-end services.
Secondly, satellite technology will be a very useful addition to digital terrestrial broadcasting. Besides being a total must in remote mountainous areas, it will work well in new neighbourhoods without cable infrastructure, especially in the suburbs.
One of the most important advantages for DTH platforms is the increasingly popular HD standard, which works better in a digital environment. And Astra has already switched to a 100% digital broadcast, with its partner in Bulgaria Satellite BG also offering 100% digital content via the Astra 23.5 degrees East position.
Thirty per cent of TV households in Bulgaria are DTH subscribers and a market study shows that 51% of the population knows that satellite reception is the most reliable.
Furthermore, Satellite Monitor research, which is conducted annually by GfK, has revealed that satellite is the leading TV reception technology in Europe. This demonstrates the excellent market potential of Bulgaria, where the local economy is recovering at a steady pace, the telecom business thriving and subscribers looking for quality, not just the lowest price.
When entering the Bulgarian market SES Astra undertook some serious research that showed that while most people already know what HD is, there is a large portion of viewers who are unaware of the newly available technology. An additional HD awareness campaign was therefore organised and today SES Astra’s partner Satellite BG provides – at 28 – the highest number of HD channels in a single premium quality offer.
The HD era in Bulgaria started couple of years ago with the first appearance of couple of channels in DTH platforms` portfolios. However, HDTV sets were available in the upper segment of the market even before such channels were offered and e home video technology, DVD and Blu-ray set higher standards for TV reception.
HD therefore became the dominant standard and today the most popular channels are either broadcast in HD or plan to simulcast a HD version. This year, as a result of Euro 2012, even the public television BNT1 decided to set up a simulcast of the games in HD.
This indicates major support for the technology in Bulgaria and has made the viewing experience of football fans richer and more fulfilling. Indeed, sports events will this year definitely increase the TV reach and the popularity of HD technology.
Each major company, a technological leader in the communications industry, is aware that sooner or later the HD standard will be replaced by something even more stunning and exceptional. This will be yet another opportunity for satellite operators and DTH platforms to expand their reach.
DTH technology is versatile and easily adjustable between standards and resolutions, as has been proven with 3D technology.
SES Astra already broadcasts seven 3D channels and some market analysts expect that in the near future there will be ultra high definition TV channels available, offering resolutions above the current 1080p. But until then, HD will rule the TV world and bring families together in front of the TV for a favourite movie or game.