HDTV Hits the Continent

Only a single distributor, the DBS service Euro 1080, is broadcasting HDTV content in Europe today, but it is predicted that 20 years from now, all European television will be broadcast in HDTV. Research organization Datamonitor forecasts that by 2008, Europe will have 4.6 million HDTV households, up from 50,000 at the end of 2003. The leaders of the HDTV effort will be Germany, France and England. It is further expected that MPEG-4, Part 10 advanced video coding will be the dominant compression technology for HD, rather than MPEG-2.

Several organizations have announced plans to begin HDTV content distribution in 2005 and 2006, including U.K.-based BSkyB, M6, TPS and TF1 in France and also Premiere in Germany. Further, the BBC is gearing up to produce all its programming in HD by 2010. In the near term, a videogame maker predicts that HDTV will initially be adopted by video gamers, owing to the lack of available HDTV programming in the U.K.

Obstacles to the adoption of HDTV by European consumers are seen to include the currently high price tags on HDTV sets and confusion over the many choices and technologies available. Sound familiar? These are the major obstacles to consumer uptake that have been encountered in the United States. Stateside, consumer education is seemingly critical to smoothing the transition and fueling the desire to buy HDTV hardware.