Digital TV makes big gains in Europe

Growth rates mirrored in cable Internet, telephony

BRUSSELS -- Digital cable TV subscriptions jumped 18% to 16.3 million across Europe in the first half of this year as customers migrated to enhanced services, according to figures published Tuesday by industry association Cable Europe.

The group reported a 32% surge in Germany to 3.4 million customers; 12% rises in France and Spain to 1.6 million and 1.1 million, respectively; a 15% increase in the Netherlands to 1.8 million; and 3% growth in the highly competitive U.K. market to 3.36 million customers.

The digital TV growth rates were broadly mirrored in cable Internet and cable telephony, which rose 6.7% and 9.2%, respectively, for Europe as a whole. Rising digital demand contrasted with a 5% drop in analog cable TV services in the first half of the year.

Cable Europe also revealed that digital cable penetration has overtaken satellite in Germany, where the cable industry has about 1 million more direct digital customers than the Premiere satellite platform.

The group said that continued cable growth will strengthen the industry's ability to secure premium content rights in the pay TV industry.
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