SES Astra has significantly increased its reach in Europe and is now broadcasting to 122 million analogue and digital homes across the continent.
The biggest growth in take-up has been seen in the UK, France and Ukraine. It has also been most evident in digital satellite, with the number of homes rising by 6.1 million in 2008 to reach 47.2 million, or 74% of all digital satellite homes.
Commenting on the figures Christoph Limmer, manager, market development, SES-Astra said that Astra was now reaching every second home. In France, Astra had benefited from the launch of the free-to-air platform TNT Sat and the move of former TPS customers, the satellite operator serving a total of 4.6 million homes. The Ukrainian market has added 1.8 million homes to reach 2.2 million.
According to Limmer, satellite households were three times more likely to be digitised than cable. He said the additional investment needed in cable’s infrastructure meant three quarters of all cablenets still needed to be upgraded. Several Eastern European countries also have a digitisation rate of less than 20%.
Astra is also the most important player in the provision of HD, distributing around 70 channels in the format to some 1.9 million homes across Europe. Across the board, the UK remains the leading territory in the provision of HD channels, followed by France, Poland, Sweden and Norway.
All told, 50% of the 243 million TV homes in Europe now receive programmes digitally.