New TV service HD+ in Germany successfully established

Monday, May 2nd, 2011 

  • 769,000 households watch commercial free TV channels in HD via HD+
  • Positive reception following the free trial period: 66 percent pay for commercial free TV channels in HD quality
  • Technical reach is growing dynamically: 827,000 HD+ receivers sold

LUXEMBOURG & UNTERFOEHRING, Germany — SES ASTRA, an SES company (Paris:SESG) (LuxX:SESG), announced today the first official figures on viewers and customers of its new TV service HD+. As of March 31, 2011, 769,000 households in Germany received the HD+ offer via satellite. HD+ is a technical platform from SES ASTRA for encrypted broadcasting and reception of commercial free TV programmes in HD quality. At the moment, the HD+ offering includes eight free TV channels in HD: RTL HD, SAT.1 HD, ProSieben HD, VOX HD, kabel eins HD, RTL2 HD, SPORT1 HD and sixx HD. For HD+, no fixed contract or subscription obligation apply. Following a one year trial period free of charge, customers pay a fixed technical service fee of EUR 50 per year. This translates into a payment of EUR 4.16 per month.

Two-thirds of all customers continue to pay for the HD+ offering following the expiration of the free trial period. Of the 172,000 viewers who had purchased an HD+ device with an HD+ card between November 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010 and used the HD+ service free of charge for a twelve month period, 66 percent renewed their HD+ service. As a result, the number of paying HD+ users was 114,000 at the end of March. An additional 655,000 customers are currently using the service within the free trial period. The total number of active HD+ households thus amounted to 769,000 at the reporting date March 31, 2011.

Wilfried Urner, CEO of HD PLUS, says: “In a country where the question of whether people are willing to pay for television has been discussed for more than 20 years, the first figures of HD+ are certainly remarkable. A conversion rate of 66 percent is clearly above the expectations, and the active renewal of the HD+ service by so many people after one year is an outstanding result. Broadcasters, manufactures and distributors have reasons to be more than satisfied. The first official figures of HD+ prove that HD+ meets a need in the German TV market.”

Operative figures HD+

                                 Mar 31, 2011
                                 ------------
Active HD+ households (1)             769,000  
HD+ customers (2)                     114,000  
HD+ users with free service (3)       655,000  
HD+ receivers sold (4)                827,000  
HD+ receiver models                        57

1. Comprises all households that can receive HD+ stations
2. Comprises all households where customers have paid the fixed annual service charge of EUR 50
3. Comprises all households that have purchased an HD+ device and make use of the period of 12 months of free service
4. Includes HD+ receiver as well as CI modules and CI+ modules for HD+

Source: Data is based on analyses of GfK and the reporting of HD Plus

BACKGROUND

Nationwide presence: more than 7,500 sales points in Germany

HD+ not only provides its viewers with a new television experience. The launch of the HD offering for German free TV channels has also provided strong impulses for manufactures and retail sales. Since the launch of the offering on November 1, 2009, a total of 827,000 devices, including the HD+ smartcard, have been sold. HD+ reception is possible via an HD+ receiver, CI Plus or a CI module for HD+. By now, more than 7,500 retailers ensure the distribution of HD+ receivers all across Germany. In addition to superstores, purchasing co-operations, online shops and numerous small retailers, a number of discounters are also offering receivers under their proprietary trademarks. As of March 31, 2011, 57 models of HD+ receivers from 27 manufacturers were available.

Additional boost: customer-friendly marketing via the Sky platform

In summer, the range of reception possibilities for HD+ will be expanded once more. This will also make it possible for satellite customers of Sky to watch the HD+ offering in brilliant quality with their Sky HD receiver. Sky customers will not need an additional device or a new smartcard. HD+ will simply be available on the existing Sky smartcard – free for up to twelve months. It is expected that the number of HD+ households will then again increase by several hundred thousands.

No contract period: simple renewal in stores, online or by phone

The HD+ offering is structured in a simple and customer-friendly manner – from the very beginning. When purchasing an HD+device, HD+ is free in the first twelve months. After the first year, a technical service fee of EUR 50 is charged. In contrast to standard subscription models, which require written notice, HD+ automatically terminates after one year. HD+ viewers can renew their card easily and conveniently. The renewal codes are available in stores, online at www.hd-plus.de or by phone (0900 1 1904 599; 49 cents/min from a German landline). In addition to renewing existing cards, customers also have the opportunity to purchase new HD+ cards – at a price of EUR 55.