SES Cultivates UHD Ecosystem, Brings UHD Demo Channel to UK, Ireland

On Feb. 12, SES hosted a conference on Ultra High Definition (UHD) in London. With a gathering of expert guest speakers, the event’s objective was to exchange views and debate on the current place of UHD in the media industry and its future. This event was also an opportunity for SES to demonstrate a live broadcast of its UHD channel, recently launched at 28.2E.

The SES Ultra High Definition conference in London

The SES Ultra High Definition conference in London

Andrew Neil, an influential journalist and broadcaster, opened the conference with a statement that the launch of UHD could be compared to the switch to color TV in the 1960s. “The advent of UHD is a significant milestone in broadcast history,” he added.

Richard Lindsay-Davies, CEO of DTG, said that his organizations main focus was on implementation and collaboration in technical matters and that such collaboration is the key to success. Questioned on whether consumers should buy today’s UHD devices or wait for more defined standards to emerge, he was emphatic, saying, “Go and buy.”

While on the one hand, sales of UHD screens are expected to increase to two million by 2017, and the range of UHD devices is already widening – 75 models will be offered in 2015, on the other hand price erosion is also foreseen.

But the UHD screens are not the only element to consider in the debate. Dr. Giles Wilson, Head of TV Compression at Ericsson, explained that TV’s next evolution would be the truly immersive consumer experience: “UHD needs to be a compelling user experience, taking them from watching a box to being within the scene.” However, he cautioned that: “There is still work to be done to define a goal and the key steps for a commercial offering – including standardisation and production equipment.”

Two speakers from the production industry, Peter Sykes, Sony Professional’s Strategic Technology Manager, and Ruth Sessions, Director of Operations at Atlantic Productions, explained that UHD is now a key factor to consider for each content production. Sony Pictures and Sony Pictures Television currently have about 170 UHD productions, including Masters of Sex, The Blacklist, and Breaking Bad series. Atlantic productions indicated that they had been working with Sky in UHD and 3D productions for three years.

Thomas Wrede, VP Reception Systems at SES, closed the event by stating that SES was very aware that the pace of innovation in UHD was challenging. He noted that the broadcasters who have undertaken live tests have gone through a dramatic learning curve, but confirmed that they – and SES – were increasingly ready to start UHD transmissions. “UHD is here to stay,” he concluded.

SES Brings UHD Demo Channel to Ireland, UK
SES has also announced its Ultra High Definition (UHD) demonstration channel is now available in the UK and Ireland. Broadcast via ASTRA 2E at 28.2 degrees East, the new channel will simulcast the UHD demonstration channel that is currently at SES’s primary European orbital position of 19.2 degrees East. The Ultra HD content is broadcast using the DVB UHD-1 Phase 1 signalling specifications and is encoded in the HEVC Main 10 standard.

The channel features a mix of colourful and extremely detailed scenes that demonstrate the clarity of Ultra HD television – urban sports, exotic animals and nature, cityscapes – along with footage of SES’s headquarters in Betzdorf. It can be received with a standard satellite dish connected to a state-of-the-art Ultra HD flat screen TV featuring an integrated satellite tuner and HEVC decoder.

“We are delighted to have set up this demonstration channel at the prime orbital position for the UK market,” says Mike Chandler, managing director of ASTRA (GB) Ltd, SES’s subsidiary in the UK. “We are making use of the capacity to enable UK and Irish retailers, installers and enthusiasts to understand the technology that makes UHD possible, and what it will mean for their viewing experience. We encourage our trade partners to show our Ultra HD demo channel at their points of sale for demonstration purposes.”

SES Platform HD+ in Germany Reaches 3 Million Households Mark
SES’s German HD platform HD+ continued to grow successfully in 2014, reaching more than three million households at the end of 2014. At 31 December 2014, 1.65 million households were paying for the service, an increase of 17 percent compared to the previous year (at 31 December 2013). Another 1.4 million households were in the free-trial period.

HD+ offers a package of High Definition TV channels, providing an HD broadcast platform for 20 of the leading private broadcasters in Germany. In addition, HD+ users can receive over 30 other free-to-air channels in brilliant HD-quality.

At the same time, the German market reach study “TV Monitor”, conducted annually by SES, showed that the number of HD satellite households in Germany exceeded, for the first time, the ten million mark. A further 6.6 million households watch HD via cable and one million via IPTV. The number of HD households therefore totaled 17.6 million, about 24 percent more than a year before (14.2 million). The total number of TV households in Germany reached 38 million. Reaching 18.2 million households, satellite remains the most important broadcast distribution.