With a range of delivery platforms in place, including satellite, cable, DTT and disc-based offerings, revenue streams have begun to grow and the importance of this sector cannot be overstated.
With almost 200 delegates assembled in the heart of Barcelona, and all the key industry players represented, the event ensured a broad range of highly relevant presentations from speakers acknowledged as leaders in their respective fields.
What follows is a breakdown of the key points coming from the conference.
Understanding & Solutions comment and analysis:
• European consumer expenditure on Consumer Electronics in 2007 is pegged at 75Bn Euros. High Definition will help revitalise CE’s many product segments over the coming years
• Hi Def broadcast subscriptions are still in their infancy and many consumers believe they are watching in HD just because they own an HD Ready television:
• UK: <4% of Sky subscribers take HD services; 4.5% of Virgin subscribers take HD services;
• France: <2% of CanalSat subscribers take HD;
• Italy: 1.2% of Sky Italia subscribers;
• Lack of original HD content for broadcast provides an opportunity for Hi Def discs;
• European revenues from online video will make no real impact for at least 5 years, so Hi Def has an essential role to play in bolstering the declining DVD market;
• Hi Def DVDs will account for 27% of the home video market value by 2011;
• By 2011, online video will still only account for 6%;
• Despite much higher profit margins for online video, high definition disc sales will still derive double the revenue for studios in 2011;
• European online video sales will yield around 70% margin for studios (525Bn Euros);
• European high definition disc sales will yield around 35% margin (more than 1.1Bn Euros).
Conference key messages:
The rapid transition to HD Ready flat screen TVs in Europe is creating a ‘content gap’ that European broadcasters in most territories will struggle to fill, leaving a pent-up demand for other sources of high definition video entertainment. That was the over-riding message from Understanding & Solutions’ High Definition in Europe: conveying the message conference held in Barcelona this week.
A large amount of programming is now being originated in high definition across most popular genres, but there is a distinct lack of actual channels available to satellite operators and cable companies. Unlike the US, where almost 100 HD channels are creating bandwidth constraints, European operators have significant spare capacity, but countries like France and the UK still only have around 10-12 channels, none of which have enough HD content available to provide original programming 24 hours a day.
The primary reason is the cost of original programming, which is often restricted by the budgets of Europe’s public service broadcasters. Organisations like the BBC use their reputations as programme makers to encourage co-productions with broadcasters in the US or Japan, while others are looking to their archives. The UK’s Granada International showed how it has restored some classic British films, as well as TV shows that were shot on 35mm before programme makers moved to standard definition video. These new masters have other applications outside of HDTV, such as digital cinema and high definition discs.
The importance of providing a clear and coherent message to consumers and the need for strong retailer support in this endeavour were highlighted by a panel of leading CE manufacturers. The confusing array of logos facing a TV buyer is a key issue (one speaker had counted 17), as is the widely varying terminology used to describe the new ‘1080p’ flat screen panels.
In the case of HD DTT, it was generally agreed that advances in video compression technology were needed before terrestrial services could match the multi-channel offerings of satellite and cable, even with the additional spectrum provided by analogue switch-off.
The next generation of high definition optical discs – Blu-ray and HD DVD – provide an alternative source of high quality content, much of it in 1080p. However, the ongoing ‘format war’ is slowing adoption by consumers and, to some extent, content owners outside the Hollywood majors. The cost of creating titles is also considerably higher than DVD, an area of concern for independent studios and distributors on more limited budgets.
Hardware pricing is another issue, particularly when there is a danger of obsolescence. Nevertheless, studio executives attending the conference expressed confidence in the future of high definition discs and are continuing to support their respective choices with new releases containing progressively more advanced interactive features. Delegates had a first-hand opportunity to see demos of the two formats’ online interactive platforms: HDi, now available on several HD DVD discs, and BD Live which is due to launch next year.
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For industry comment, forecasting and trends, contact:
Andy C Watson
Head of Marketing & PR
Understanding & Solutions
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