Europe loves HD TVs - but not HD broadcasts
Waiting for free-to-air
Only one in five households in Western Europe own an HD TV today, and while that figure is expected to jump to 85 per cent by 2012, most of us will still be watching standard-definition content.
So claims market watcher Screen Digest, which pinpointed the poor penetration of HD into Europe on a sparsity of free-to-view HD TV channels, especially over terrestrial broadcast networks.
Only Sweden has terrestrially broadcast HD channels, though the UK and France may soon follow suit. That leaves the vast majority of Europe's 100 HD channels only available through satellite and a much smaller proportion through cable.
Today, only 1.7 per cent of households in Western Europe have the kit to receive and watch HD broadcasts. Come 2012 that figure will have risen to just under 17 per cent. We'll have to wait until 2015 for the widespread availability of free-to-air HD channels to boost HD viewing into the mainstream, Screen Digest forecast.
By 2018, however, we won't be watching anything else, it reckons.
"HD has not been pushed hard enough by many of Europe's pay TV operators," said senior Screen Digest analyst Vincent Létang. "Paradoxically, it has been used heavily as a marketing tool, but has not been followed through with the delivery of HD channels – for example, Premiere in Germany still only offers two HD channels.
"There is a direct connection between the depth of the HD offering and the take up of HD by subscribers. BSkyB has 17 HD channels and on the back of this has signed up almost 500,000 subscribers in less than two years."
Special Report HD TV in the UK
I'll believe it when I see it
I have a HD tv, the only HD content I give it is via the Apple TV, I'm no Apple fan but it was the only box which was hackable to give me all I wanted.
I would have waited much longer to buy a HD tv if it weren't for this little box.
Offcom have sold us up the river, there will be no decent HD via freeview what with them selling off the digital dividend, and Sky will continue to charge extra while it can, which with no proper dish-free/cable-free option it can for a long time to come. Unless we all just move to IP TV using H264/Divx which I'm sorry to say is the only way to get all that data small enough.
Offcom are damaging the TV industry in the UK.
They are promoting standard definition as the future of terrestrial broadcast television. So let's just turn the TV off and do something else more interesting instead.
Podcast's could very well be the future, hey we finally got public access!
Its still the same old cr"p
Is it me or has the quality of television programmes dropped in direct proportion to the cost and quantity of all this new technology - and who really cares if Paul O'Grady or Big Brother is broadcast in HD ? Its still a load of old crap, just higher definition crap.
What is the point
I would consider buying a new 500+ HD TV if the TV channels actually showed something interesting anymore. The quality of picture might be arguably better in HD (I don't see it myself) but it is utter shite programs being aired.
Who cares if Big brother can be seen in HD, it is still Big Brother.
It's not just about TV
"Also 720 line on 1080 native set or 1080 lines on a 720p or 768p set is only marginally better than 576 upscaled."
Errr, no. 720p is both progressive and a native 16:9 format, meaning it's around 4.5 times the resolution of the best case in PAL and more still for NTSC suffers. I'd get your eyes tested if you seriously think upscaled PAL looks anything like 720p.
Of course HDTV is only part of the story it's the HDMI, DVi, VGA inputs that are just as important meaning xbox, PS3, media PCs, bluray etc.
HD broadcast trials and initial services have recently started in more European countries including:
Italy (trial in 4 cities for Euro Cup
Spain (Barcelona area)
and several others in Eastern Europe. Also for a European article you
France as mentioned will start full service after over a year of trials this September/October.
UK will not start anytime soon due to OFCOM's decision to use DVB-T2 as the broadcast standard. Experimental broadcasts are just starting but commercial hardware will not be available for some time and official launch not planned at least until around the end of 2009.