BERLIN — Europe’s digital TV market saw the launch of 300 channels last year.
As in 2009, sport outlets led the way with 47, followed by 32 porn channels and 26 entertainment webs, according to a report by the European Audiovisual Observatory released Monday.
HD simulcasts of existing channels accounted fro 25, followed by 19 documentary outlets and 16 lifestyle webs.
EU-based channels launched in 2010 include 22 new public service channels, such as the mini-generalist RAI 5 in Italy and the special- interest channel TVP Seriale in Poland.
Most of the new public service channels were HD versions of existing ones, including France 3 HD, RTBF 1, 2 and 3 HD in Belgium, a number of channels in the autonomous regions of Spain as well as ITV regional windows in the U.K.
A total of 414 HD channels were in operation in the EU by the end of last year, up from 274 at the end of 2009. The figure includes both HD specific channels and simulcasts of standard definition channels.
Accounting for approximately 20% of all HD channels, sport remains the most significant genre in HD television, followed general programming, film and documentary outlets.
The distribution of HD channels saw rapid development last year. At the end of 2010, two-thirds of IPTV services offered HD channels. High-def outlets are now available on DTT networks in 13 countries, up from only three DTT networks at the end of 2009.
Greater penetration has followed the digitization of cable systems across Europe. Satellite platforms in leading countries are also increasing HD offerings. Countries where satellite packages offer more than 20 HD channels include France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the U.K. Specific HD satellite platforms exist in Hungary, Germany and Russia.
By the end of 2009, the share of digital households in Europe climbed from 45.3% to 56.1%, boosted by a number of driving forces such as the roll-out of digital terrestrial TV, the digitization of traditional distribution platforms like cable and satellite, and the increasing take-up of IPTV in several European countries.
While cable operators make up the largest number of digital platforms across Europe with 6,216 by the end of 2010, that figure has remained relatively stable in the past three years. Greater growth has been seen in pay-DTT, which climbed 28% to 32 platforms between 2009 and 2010, and satellite operators, which saw an increase of 24% to 88 in the same period.
Currently, more than 9,800 TV channels are in operation in Europe and 7,600 in the EU countries.
The report said the widespread take-up of 3D TV in Europe remained to be seen but predicted that sport and film would be the most important content driving the new technology.
A number of platforms are currently testing 3D channels throughout Europe, including BSkyB (in the U.K., Italy and Germany), Viasat, Canal Plus (France and Spain), Meo (Portugal) and NTV (Russia).
In the U.K., the BSkyB 3D service claimed to have 70,000 subscribers at the beginning of 2011.