Report: Europe HD Penetration ‘Patchy'9 Jul, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel
With high-definition content and channels in the United States increasing steadily (especially on cable), in Europe, HD content and channels remains largely hit and miss, according to a new report by Screen Digest.
Penetration of HDTV in Western Europe has reached 20%, compared to 36% in North America. European penetration should reach from 75% to 100% by 2012.
The Dublin, Ire.-based research firm said a lack of free-to-air HD platforms, local HD channels and indifference from pay-TV operators contributed to sluggish consumer adoption of HD.
The report said that only Sweden, France and the United Kingdom have made available free-to-air HD channels and content. The majority of HD availability in Europe over the next five years will be via subscription-based TV through satellite and some cable.
“Paradoxically, [HD] has been used heavily as a marketing tool, but has not been followed through with the delivery of HD channels,” said the report.
It cited the Premiere network in Germany that offers just two HD channels compared to News Corp.'s BskyB satellite network, which features 17 HD channels and reportedly added 500,000 new subscribers in less than two years due to HD.
There are about two to 15 HD channels in individual European countries, compared to more than 100 HD channels in the United States.
“There is a clear connection between the depth of the HD offerings and the take up of HD by subscribers,” the report said. It also said that Blu-ray would help drive consumer awareness and quality expectations.
Screen Digest said there were 1.2 million HD-enabled households in Europe in 2007 (less than 1% of households), with subscriber-based TV accounting for 80% of the homes.
Globally, the report said HDTV households would grow from 87 million in 2007 (9% of TV households), to nearly 500 million (45%) by 2012.