HD Wars

There’s a race going on to win the largest number of HD channels. In Europe, Eutelsat just pulled ahead, boasting 49 high-def channels vs. SES Astra’s 42.

As in any long-distance race there will be moments when the lead changes, and there s every likelihood that by the end of the year Astra will be carrying nearer 60 HD channels, perhaps even more, helped by BSkyB boosting its total to nearer 30 high-def channels. Canal Plus over France, Digital+ over Spain and Premiere’s HD plans over Germany will all add to Astra’s overall portfolio.

Despite the ramp-up in HD offerings, Screen Digest says many homes that have HD sets don’t use them to view broadcast high-def.

The report confirms that Astra, as at Dec 31st last year, had more than 1.2m homes viewing high-def programming. But this is still a miserable number considering Europe s 29.8m homes with HD-Ready devices installed. North America, also at Dec 31st, had 32.3m HD-Ready sets in use, and an impressive 19.3m viewing HD.

The trend is expected to change by 2012, with Europe taking the lead in high-def homes.