Near-term future of HD in Europe hinges on paid services

The recent closure of two German HDTV channels has cast a shadow over Europe’s hopes for a rapid transition to HD, according to a new analysis published by Strategy Analytics.

This report, “HDTV Channels Shut Down: A Sign of Things to Come,” concludes that Europe’s TV providers should concentrate their resources initially on building pay television rather than advertising-based business models to reach the critical mass of HD content and receivers necessary to make HDTV a self-sustaining business.

ProSiebenSat1, one of Germany’s leading commercial TV broadcasters, closed its two HDTV channels on Feb. 15 after concluding audience figures were insufficient to justify continued transmission. The decision leaves Germany with a handful of HD channels, most of them only available to pay TV subscribers.

The report finds that only 5 percent of Europeans who currently own an HD-ready television are in fact watching HDTV channels. On a brighter note, the report concludes that the number of European HDTV subscribers will grow toward 3.5 million by the end of the year. By 2012, Strategy Analytics predicts 20 percent of all European households will be watching HD channels.

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