SES now broadcasting eight commercial Ultra HD channels

Friday, February 26th, 2016
SES S.A logo

LUXEMBOURG — SES S.A. (NYSE Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG) reports financial results for the year ended 31 December 2015.


SES’s substantial technical reach in prime video neighbourhoods contributed to an 11.3% increase in total TV channels broadcast over SES satellites to 7,268 channels. This was well ahead of the rest of the satellite industry (up 2.3%) and further reinforced SES’s industry-leading position. SES is also number one in HDTV channels, which grew by 18.3% to 2,230 channels as SES captured growth across all regions. In total, nearly 60% of all channels are now broadcast in the MPEG-4 compression standard.


European TV channels grew 9% to nearly 2,600, while HDTV channels increased 26% to 675. During the period, SES secured a long-term contract to broadcast BBC World News, the free-to-air (FTA) international news channel, in HD. In August 2015, Deutsche Welle signed long-term capacity agreements on three satellites (ASTRA 4A, ASTRA 5B and SES-5) to broadcast German and English-language channels in Eastern Europe and Africa. In December 2015, Viasat, a DTH broadcaster and pay TV operator owned by Swedish media and entertainment group Modern Times Group, extended its capacity contract to broadcast 230 channels in the Nordic and Baltic countries via ASTRA 4A and SES-5. In addition, continued demand for high-quality content drove an 11% increase in HD+’s paying subscriber base to over 1.8 million.

In North America, HDTV channels on SES satellites increased by 3% to over 1,200 channels. In October 2015, Scripps Networks Interactive migrated and expanded its North American distribution platform to two SES satellites at the centre of the North American orbital arc, which reaches over 100 million U.S. households. With a full line-up of popular network brands (including HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network and Travel Channel), Scripps Networks Interactive is utilising a full C-band transponder on SES-1 for HD content and a further C-band transponder on SES-3 to distribute SD feeds.

Channel growth was particularly pronounced in emerging markets, where SES is expanding its video presence. SES now carries 2,900 TV channels (40% of total channels) to over 70 million households across a range of fast-growing markets, including Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. This compares to just over 2,300 channels at the end of 2014, which represents a growth of 24% in one year and includes a doubling in HDTV channels to well over 300.

In June 2015, StarTimes contracted additional capacity on SES-5 to provide an enhanced TV viewing offer for its five million subscribers in 26 African countries. StarTimes subsequently contracted SES Platform Services (SES PS) to provide signal turnaround, video processing and uplinking services. In addition, SES secured a multi-year contract with Canal Holdings to distribute its bouquet of channels in four different language versions across West Africa, via ASTRA 2G and SES-5.

In Latin America, Televisa contracted three C-band transponders on AMC-9, in December 2015, to broadcast premium channels to millions of homes across Mexico. The combination of premium content and on-going investment in seeding cable head-ends further strengthens SES’s video neighbourhood in Mexico.

In Ultra HD (UHD), SES was the first satellite operator to secure commercial agreements to broadcast this next generation video experience. SES now broadcasts eight commercial Ultra HD channels – (Europe’s first commercial UHD channel) and Fashion One 4K (the world’s first global UHD channel), as well as Airtel 4K, Dish UHD Promo, High 4K TV, INSIGHT, NASA TV UHD and UHD-1 – and also signed (in July 2015) a commercial agreement to provide Sky Deutschland with additional capacity for Ultra HD broadcasts.