DTH

DTH growth prospects in Europe limited: report

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MUMBAI: While in India Zee's Direct To Home (DTH) platform Dish TV is adding customers everyday in Europe where the market is well developed the situation is different.

DTH growth is expected to be limited. This is partly because many European countries appear to have reached saturation point and also because competition will be fierce with nascent free-to-air Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) services.

Research organisation Research and Markets has come out with a report Digital Terrestrial TV: Prospects in the Enlarged European Union (EU).

Italy is expected to be the largest single DTT market in Europe by 2009, with nearly 13 million DTT households, followed by the UK and Germany.

The report reveals that the UK will remain the EU country with the highest overall level of digitalisation. However its forecast digitalisation rate by 2009 (86 per cent) will be some way short of the British government's target for analogue switch-off (95 per cent).

Other countries expected strong digital growth over the period are Finland (85 per cent), Italy (83 per cent) and Spain (77 per cent). By contrast, Greece is expected to have digital penetration of less than 10 per cent by 2009.

The report went on to note that digitalisation of Europe's cable networks will continue to be hindered by the high price differentials between analogue and digital subscriptions. 

The report stated that DTT services had been introduced in seven EU countries by the end of last year. Meanwhile, Germany has become the first country in Europe to completely phase out analogue terrestrial services in a number of areas.

The most popular and thus far, in terms of subscriber growth most successful DTT product has utilised the free-to-air (FTA) model. The UK and more recently Finland and Italy have all experienced rapid growth in take-up. Around one million UK households switching to DTT in the fourth quarter of 2003 alone.

By contrast, DTT models incorporating pay TV have generally struggled. The most notable is ITV Digital in the UK. This is has been due to competition from other pay TV providers in their market. Indeed, the failure of ITV Digital has led to other European countries revising their plans. An increasing number seem set to base their plans around a substantial core of FTA services.

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