European TV market flattening

245 channels launched, but 220 closed

LONDON -- Growth in the European television channel market appears to be flattening off, with only 25 more channels broadcasting across the 29-state European Union at the end of 2009 compared with the beginning, according to new figures from the European Commission.

All told, the European region has about 7,200 channels, and though 245 new channels launched during the 2009 calendar year, a further 220 closed, so the net increase in channels was a fraction of a percentage of the whole. The U.K. remains far and away the biggest satellite channel market, with over 1033 channels, compared to Italy, with 388; France with 297; Germany with 227 and Spain with 195.

New launches include 38 new sports webs, 17 new kids channels and more than 150 new theme channels such as Investigation Discovery, Disney Cinemagic, Body In Balance and local channels like Weo in France and Dresden Eins in Germany -- all launching on cable, satellite, IPTV, DTT or other digital platforms.

Of the 220 channels shutting up shop, over 100 were casualties of the closuare of Spain's Localia TV group. MTV's Baltic operations, Irelands's bankrupted Setanta Sports channels and local-language Bloomberg Business News channels were also wiped out this year. Six European countries have now completed analog switchoff including Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and Finland, while in 2010 Austria, Malta, Spain and Slovenia are expected to complete the process. A phased switch-off is partially underway in the U.K., France and Italy.
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