We met with Eutelsat, the third largest global satellite operator behind Intelsat and SES. The main topic was, of course, UltraHD.
The firm believes that there is a “certain maturity” in standardisation and pointed to the Digital Europe logo programme and the EBU UltraHD Phase 1 and the coming Phase 2. There is less of a shortage of content for UltraHD than there was when FullHD and consumers and operators can be much more selective about content than during that switch. UltraHD will be adopted by Pay TV operators all over Europe, while when HD came along, interest was mainly in the West.
There will be new announcements about UltraHD, including a new channel, “SBC Funbox” which should be announced around Mipcom. Most UltraHD will be broadcast via satellite, even where it ends up going to a cable or IPTV head end for distribution to viewers (IPTV and cable broadcasters have become customers as well as competitors to DTH satellite). 24 hour programming should not be a problem.
German and UK consumers will buy UltraHD simply to be future proof, but in other countries to the South, there is more scepticism and consumers will need to be convinced of the value.
Eutelsat has performed consumer research in six countries around Europe (DE/UK/FR/PO/RU/TK) and found that many consumers are very interested in a 3-5 channel bouquet that would cost €7 to €10 per month.
Of course, there are big changes and consumers are tending to want “everything everywhere”. That could pose a threat to satellite operators and Eutelsat has recognised that it needs to fight against substitution as well as competing with other satellite operators. It is therefore increasing its technical cooperation with SES to try to ensure that the satellite technology remains relevant to consumers and as a “first brick” in a long term project to collaborate, the company will support the SES Sat>IP initiative. It will also continue to support its own SmartLNB initiative which allows for satellite content to get to ip networks, without replacing the coax connection from a satellite dish. It also allows a messaging return link to the operator.