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UPC, Philips Team Up for HD in Netherlands

UPC and Philips this week formed a strategic partnership to eventually introduce HD programming to several European countries, beginning with the Netherlands. The timing of the agreement will, among other things, provide the opportunity for UPC's Dutch customers to watch the 2006 World Cup next summer in HD.

The partnership combines a major European consumer electronics manufacturer with one of the continent's largest cable operators (albeit, much of Western Europe is served by DBS). UPC plans to introduce an interactive HD-capable set-top box in 2006, with promotions and an advertising campaign set to get underway in the first half of the new year.

Primarily because of the wide attention given to the World Cup every four years in Europe and elsewhere (it's by far the most televised sports event in the world), UPC and Philips expect that 2006 will be the year in which HD will really register with European viewers. UPC said in published reports that it now sees local and network broadcasters, operators, filmmakers and receiver manufacturers all investing in HD to various degrees, and even working better together, to create more HD-centric ventures and venues.