Canal Plus Spain bows HD service

Pay TV operator tries to stem churn

Pioneering nationwide high-definition TV in Spain, feevee giant Sogecable will bow Canal Plus Alta Definicion, a high-def version of its premium Canal Plus service.

Test trials kick off in January; Canal Plus Alta Definicion will be up and running fully later in the year.

To date, only Catalan pubcaster TVC has launched HD TV.

Operating in one of Europe’s toughest pay TV markets, Sogecable faces a challenge drawing in more subscribers. Customer growth is slowing at Sogecable satcaster Digital Plus, which carries Canal Plus. In the year ended in June, it upped its sub count by only 3.3% to 2.06 million.

High def is one way for Sogecable to drive up revenue-per-subscriber, reduce churn and attract new clients, setting itself apart from other Spanish pay TV operators, such as Telefonica’s Internet broadband TV Imagenio, whose limited copper-wire bandwidth makes HD TV delivery difficult.

Sogecable launched last month an iPlus PVR set-top box that is capable of receiving high def and DTT signals.

Plunging prices are sparking a boom in Plasma flatscreen TV set sales in Spain. According to Sogecable, 13% of Spanish TV sets are now HD capable, including 21% of sets owned by Digital Plus customers.

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