HD+

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HD PLUS GmbH
TypePrivately owned subsidiary
IndustryTelecommunications
FoundedMay 2009
HeadquartersUnterföhring, Germany
Key people
Norbert Hölzle, Georges Agnes (both managing directors)
ProductsDirect broadcast satellite
Websitehd-plus.de

HD+ is a premium high-definition (HD) satellite television service for German users, owned by HD PLUS GmbH, a subsidiary of SES based in Unterföhring near Munich, Germany.

HD+ carries HD and ultra-high-definition (UHD) channels outside the established pay-TV networks, broadcast encrypted from satellites at the Astra 19.2°E position direct to home satellite dishes. Reception and decryption is with a dedicated HD+ set-top box, an HD+ conditional-access module (CAM) and Smart Card in a receiver or TV set equipped with a CI+ slot, a Sky Deutschland pay-TV reception system, or certain integrated TV sets. HD+ reception systems also provide reception of free-to-air (unencrypted) HD channels from the same satellites.

The HD PLUS GmbH company grew out of ASTRA Platform Services (later SES Platform Services, then MX1, now part of SES Video) and offers the technical management and the marketing of HD programmes for all broadcasters, including the distribution of the smart cards required for reception. In October 2014, HD+ joined the Free TV Alliance, alongside other free-to-view broadcasters Tivù Sat and Fransat, and free-to-air Freesat.[1]

As of December 2016, there were nearly 3 million households in Germany receiving the HD+ service.[2]

HD+ channels[edit]

HD channels[edit]

UHD channels[edit]

  • RTL UHD
  • UHD1

History of HD+ channel line-up[edit]

The HD+ service launched on November 1, 2009, with two channels, RTL HD and Vox HD. Sat.1 HD, ProSieben HD and kabel eins HD were added on January 31, 2010.[3]

Sport1 HD (previously DSF) joined the service on the first anniversary of the launch of HD+, on November 1, 2010, becoming the first channel in the HD+ package from outside the RTL and ProSiebenSat.1 groups.[4] On December 1, 2010, HD versions of German women's entertainment channel sixx (owned by ProSiebenSat.1 Media) and entertainment channel RTL II launched in HD on HD+.[5] In June 2011, Comedy Central and nickelodeon from MTV Networks joined the HD+ platform[6] and it was announced that news channel, N24 would join HD+ from July, bringing the number of channels offered to 11.[7]

In October 2011 Tele5 HD launched on HD+ and on May 1, 2012, Super RTL launched a high definition version of the RTL/Disney owned channel on the HD+ platform alongside Discovery's DMAX channel.[8] The 15th channel to join HD+ was adult pop music channel Deluxe Music, in December 2012.[9]

Disney Channel HD left the German pay-TV platform, Sky Deutschland in November 2013 to relaunch on HD+ on January 17, 2014 as an advertising-financed service.[10] In April 2014 HD+ added the news channel n-tv HD, male orientated entertainment channels ProSieben Maxx HD and RTL Nitro HD, and women's lifestyle channel TLC HD to the line-up, bringing the total number of channels in the service to 20.[11]

In the months leading up to the launch of HD+, it had been reported that MTV – already broadcasting in HD from Astra 19.2°E – was in discussions to join the package[12] but it was only some six years after those discussions, on September 1, 2014, that MTV HD left the Sky Deutschland pay-TV platform and became the 21st channel to join HD+. However, MTV HD was not available for customers that viewed HD+ via Sky Deutschland (as there was no VideoGuard encryption enabled for MTV HD) until 21 October 2015.[13] In October, the number of channels was reduced back to 20 when Viacom reorganized its channels in Germany. Comedy Central was no longer available via HD+ and Nickelodeon, which previously shared its channel with Comedy Central, increased its broadcast hours to 24 hours a day.[14]

On January 1, 2015 the women's channel Sat.1 Gold started broadcasting in HD on the HD+ platform, the last of ProSiebenSat.1's SD channels to launch in HD[15] and on October 4, 2016, INsight TV HD, an action and extreme sports channel from TV Entertainment Reality Network (TERN) became the 22nd HD+ channel.[16]

On December 1, 2016 Eurosport 1 HD started broadcasting in HD on the HD+ platform[17] and in August 2017 Eurosport announced that HD+ subscribers could add access to live sports coverage on the Eurosport 2 HD Xtra channel for an additional €5/month.[18] In March 2019 Comedy Central returned to HD+, replacing Nickelodeon.[19]

In September 2015, HD+ started broadcasts of the ultra-high-definition television (UHD) demonstration channel, UHD1, showing sports, culture, lifestyle, and nature video clips and trailers.[20] In December 2017, Travelxp joined HD+, broadcasting in Ultra HD and HDR (the first travel channel worldwide to use HDR) but left the service in April 2020.[21] RTL launched its own UHD channel on April 28, 2018, distributed exclusively via HD+.[22]

Service fees and reception equipment[edit]

Included in the purchase price of HD+ reception equipment is an HD+ smart card valid for a free introductory trial of all channels in the HD+ service. At the launch of the HD+ service the trial period was 12 months; this was reduced to 6 months in November 2013.[23] At the end of the free viewing period, the validity of the card can be extended for a further year on payment of the annual service fee (€50 at the time of the service launch), either direct to HD+ or in stores.[24] In May 2014 the annual service fee, after expiry of the free viewing period, was increased from €50 to €60 and a monthly payment plan of €5.00/month was introduced.[25] In February 2017, the annual subscription was increased to €70 and the monthly fee raised to €5.75.[26] In March 2021, subscription fees were raised to €75 (annual) and €6 (monthly).[27]

Initially, the main route to HD+ reception was with the set-top boxes especially designed for HD+, connected to a satellite dish pointing at Astra 19.2°E, with an HD+ Nagravision smart card. Other satellite receivers or TV sets equipped with a CI+ slot can be fitted with an HD+ conditional-access module (CAM), bought from HD+ or in stores along with the HD+ smart card.

Since June 2011, all the HD+ channels have been additionally encrypted with VideoGuard to be available to Sky Deutschland subscribers without any HD+ equipment. Sky subscribers with a standard Sky HD satellite receiver and smartcard are able to watch and record the HD+ channels, along with the Sky HD channels and free-to-air German HD channels which also broadcast from Astra 19.2°E.[28][29]

Since September 2011, HD+ channels can also be received via Entertain Sat from Deutsche Telekom[30] and, since January 2013, thanks to an agreement with the German broadcasting and broadband communications association (FRK), via some small and medium-sized cable networks.[31]

In March 2019 Panasonic launched the first commercial deployment of the HbbTV Operator App enabling Panasonic 2019 OLED and UHD smart TVs connected to an Astra 19.2°E dish and to the internet, to receive HD+ services without a set-top box, CI module or smartcard. Two weeks after Panasonic's introduction of the app, Samsung also offered the app's integrated access to HD+ on its 2019 TVs. In 2020 various branded TVs made by Vestel also offered this facility.[32][33][34] In April 2021, Sony provided direct access to HD+ for all its Google TV models using an Android app.[35]

Second screen[edit]

Launched in February 2017 (for iOS) and August 2017 (for Android), HD+ ExtraScreen enables households with a Humax 4tune+ set-top box and active HD+ card to stream HD channels from the set-top box to smartphones and tablets running the HD+ Connect app, or to the Humax H1 media player, at no extra charge. The set-top-box distributes encrypted and free-to-air channels via the household's local Wi-Fi network to the mobile devices using Sat-IP, independent of the channel showing on the connected TV set.[36][37][38]

Catch-up TV and online services[edit]

In December 2012, HD+ launched the RePlay catch-up TV service, offering full-length programmes up to seven days after their first DTH broadcast. A hybrid broadcast/online system, RePlay required an HbbTV-based HD+ set-top box or, from 2014, the RePlay app on some smart TVs, and carried a subscription fee of €15 per quarter (after a free trial period).[39]

Paying extra for catch-up TV proved not to be popular and in 2018, HD+ RePlay was replaced by the free HD+ Komfort-Funktion[40] integrated in various Panasonic, Samsung, and branded Vestel TV sets. Komfort-Funktion allows some programs to be re-started and watched from the beginning and provides access to selected channels’ media libraries, with an interactive TV guide and customized search function.[41] TVs providing HD+ via the HbbTV Operator App also provide the Komfort-Funktion.[42]

Service criticism, accolades and uptake[edit]

In the lead-up to, and after the launch of HD+, there was some criticism of the service because of the amount of content actually made in HD. Although initially, mainly only US movies and US series were broadcast in native HD, the proportion of HD programmes broadcast increased. By 2013, most in-house productions and almost all major sports events were produced and broadcast in HD. By May 2013, RTL HD was broadcasting more than 90 percent of its programming in native HD[43] and by the end of 2014 ProSiebenSat1 Media AG broadcast "with a few exceptions, the entire prime time lineup of Sat1 HD, ProSieben HD, Kabel eins HD and sixx HD in native HD".[44]

The decision to charge for access to the HD+ package, while promoting it as free TV, and the limitations imposed on the service’s use (some channels announced they were going to deny the viewer the ability to record broadcasts to watch later or fast-forwarding during commercials[45]) was met with some criticism within Germany.[46] However, Ferdinand Kayser, then president and CEO of SES Astra, denied that HD+ is pay-TV. "HD+ is free TV," he said in September 2009 at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, and compared the commercial arrangements to cable TV, in which access to free channels costs money. He said that the annual cost of HD+ is a service fee "which is related to the reception of the offer and not to specific content, parts or packages of the offer".[47]

HD+ has achieved several awards in German specialist publications. In 2018 Video Magazin gave HD+ a "very good" test rating,[48] in 2019, the HD+ HbbTV Operator App in Panasonic's integrated HD+ TV sets was awarded "Best use of HbbTV for operator applications" by the HbbTV Association,[49] and the integration of HD+ into TV sets and the HD+ Komfort-Funktion has received the test rating "very good" in Audiovision (issue 6/2019), Digital Television (8/2019), Satvision (6/2019) and Video (7/2019), "top notch" in av-magazin.de (issue 8/2019), and "innovation" in Sat-Magazin (issue 3/2019).

In May 2011 – some 18 months after the launch of the service – HD+ CEO, Wilfried Urner said that "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".[50]

In the first few years after the launch of the service, the uptake of HD+ was as follows:

Date Total households receiving HD+ Households paying the HD+ service fee
March 2011 769,000 114,000"[50]
May 2012 2.6 million >500,000[51]
October 2012 2,8 million >750,000[52]
February 2013 >1 million [53]
October 2014 2.9 million 1.59 million [54]
December 2014 3.1 million 1.65 million[55]
December 2015 2.95 million 1.84 million[56]
December 2016 2.96 million 2.11 million[2]

Austria[edit]

The equivalent of HD+ in Austria is HD Austria.[57]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HD+ engagiert sich in der europäischen FreeTV Alliance (in German)" (Press release). HD+. October 29, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Number of HD+ subscribers in Germany passes two million mark" (Press release). SES. February 13, 2017. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  3. ^ Sat.1, ProSieben and kabel eins from January 2010 in High Definition on HD+ Business Wire. July 20, 2009. Accessed November 27, 2020
  4. ^ Sport1 relies on HD and HbbTV (in German) Film TV Video. November 8, 2010. Accessed November 27, 2020
  5. ^ "RTL2 LAUNCHES IN HIGH DEFINITION ON HD+ IN GERMANY" (Press release). SES Astra. October 25, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  6. ^ "Nickelodeon HD and Comedy Central HD join HD+" (Press release). SES Astra. June 1, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  7. ^ German news channel N24 joins HD+ Broadband TV News. June 15, 2011. Accessed November 30, 2020
  8. ^ Discovery’s DMAX-HD joins HD+ Advanced Television. April 30, 2012. Accessed November 27, 2020
  9. ^ Vorerst nur bei HD+: Deluxe Music bald auch in HD (in German) DWDL de. December 13, 2012. Accessed November 30, 2020
  10. ^ Krieger, Jorn Disney Channel moves German pay-TV exit forward Rapid TV News. December 10, 2013. Accessed November 27, 2020</
  11. ^ HD+ grows to 1.5 million customers Broadband TV News. April 28, 2014. Accessed November 27, 2020
  12. ^ MTV and DSF might join HD+ Broadband TV News. September 28, 2009. Accessed November 27, 2020
  13. ^ MTV HD returns to Sky D customers via HD+ Broadband TV News. October 20, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2020
  14. ^ Nickelodeon HD mit Vollprogramm und MTV neu bei HD Plus (in German) Satvision. August 27, 2014. Accessed November 27, 2020
  15. ^ Sat.1 Gold HD to launch on January 1, 2015 Broadband TV News. December 1, 2014. Accessed November 27, 2020
  16. ^ Insight TV startet bei HD+ – Abenteuer, Action- und Extremsport ab 4. Oktober INFOSAT – INFODIGITAL. September 30, 2010. Accessed November 27, 2020
  17. ^ Eurosport 1 HD to join HD+ on Astra Broadband TV News. November 28, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2020
  18. ^ "Fußball-Bundesliga live: Der Ball rollt auch bei HD+(in German)" (Press release). HD+. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  19. ^ Comedy Central HD ab sofort bei HD+, Diveo und Freenet über Satellit INFOSAT – INFODIGITAL. March 1, 2019. Accessed November 27, 2020
  20. ^ [https://www.broadbandtvnews.com/2015/08/31/ses-and-hd-launch-ultra-hd-channel-on-astra/ SES and HD+ launch Ultra HD channel on Astra ] Broadband TV News. August 31, 2015. Accessed November 27, 2020
  21. ^ Travelxp 4k to leave Astra Broadband TV News. March 31, 2020. Accessed November 27, 2020
  22. ^ RTL UHD goes live April 28 Advanced Television. April 2015. Accessed November 27, 2020
  23. ^ HD+ extends contract with broadcasters November 27, 2013 Broadband TV News. Accessed March 29, 2017
  24. ^ "Private Broadcasters To Launch HD With HD+ On November 1, 2009" (Press release). SES Astra. October 12, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
  25. ^ Astra's HD+ to add three new channels February 7, 2014 Rapid TV News. Accessed March 29, 2017
  26. ^ German HD+ platform raises prices, adds multiscreen November 28, 2016 Broadband TV News. Accessed March 29, 2017
  27. ^ German DTH platform HD+ increases prices Broadband TV News. January 14, 2021. Accessed August 22, 2021
  28. ^ NDS VideoGuard to Secure HD+ Content for Sky Deutschland Business Wire. May 4, 2011. Accessed November 27, 2020
  29. ^ "Sky Deutschland expands market leading HD service with 8 additional channels" (Press release). Sky Deutschland. April 11, 2011.
  30. ^ Launch of Entertain Sat: TV service from Deutsche Telekom available throughout virtually the whole of Germany Deutsche Telekom. September 1, 2011. Accessed November 27, 2020
  31. ^ FRK einigt sich mit HD+ über Einspeisung in ausgewählten Kabelnetzen INFOSAT – INFODIGITAL. December 19, 2012. Accessed November 27, 2020
  32. ^ Panasonic integrates HD+ directly into TV sets Broadband TV News. March 3, 2019. Accessed August 28, 2019
  33. ^ Samsung to add direct HD+ access to TV sets Broadband TV News. March 6, 2019. Accessed August 28, 2019
  34. ^ Vestel integrates HD+ into TV sets via HbbTV OpApp Broadband TV News. July 23, 2020. Accessed November 27, 2020
  35. ^ Sony integrates HD+ directly into TV sets Broadband TV News. April 21, 2021. Accessed August 22, 2021
  36. ^ HD+ launches multiscreen app for DTH channels Broadband TV News February 8, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2020
  37. ^ HD+ ExtraScreen launches on Android devices Broadband TV News. August 24, 2017. Accessed December 27, 2020
  38. ^ HD+ Connect App TARA Systems. Accessed December 27, 2020
  39. ^ HD+ launches catch-up TV portal as smart TV app Broadband TV News. June 27, 2014. Accessed December 27, 2020
  40. ^ HD+ RePlay will be discontinued (in German) Satvision. June 14, 2018. Accessed December 27, 2020
  41. ^ HD +: First television with integrated access to the satellite TV platform (in German) c't Magazin. February 2019. Accessed December 27, 2020
  42. ^ Next generation HbbTV (in German) Panasonic. February 18, 2019. Accessed December 27, 2020
  43. ^ TV Movie. May 10, 2013
  44. ^ Digital Fernsehen, November 2012 pages 88–90
  45. ^ Verbraucherschützer wettern weiter gegen HD+ von SES Astra & Co. – HD+ weiter in der Schusslinie satundkabel.de. August 28, 2009. Accessed May 20, 2010.
  46. ^ "Chip Awards 2010 – Brake Of The Year (in German)" (PDF). web.archive.org. 2010-08-21. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  47. ^ Briel, Robert Kayser rebuffs critics of HD+ platform Broadband TV News September 10, 2009
  48. ^ HD + in the test (in German) Video Magazin. July 5, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2020
  49. ^ HD + in the test (in German) Digital Fernsehen. November 22, 2019. Accessed December 21, 2020
  50. ^ a b "New TV service HD+ in Germany successfully established" (Press release). SES Astra. May 2, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  51. ^ "HD+ Viewers Surge". OnAstra.com. May 14, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012.
  52. ^ HD+ records more than 750,000 paying households for the first time Digital TV News. October 31, 2012. Accessed November 30, 2020
  53. ^ "More German HD Viewers, Services, Channels". OnAstra.com. February 17, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  54. ^ "Quartal 2014: HD+ baut Kundenstamm abermals aus (German)" (Press release). HD+. October 31, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  55. ^ "SES PLATFORM HD+ IN GERMANY REACHES MORE THAN 3 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS" (Press release). SES. February 2, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  56. ^ "HD+ RECORDS 11.3 PERCENT GROWTH IN SUBSCRIBERS IN 2015" (Press release). SES. January 29, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  57. ^ "HD Plus". HDinfo.at – Voll erleben (in German). Retrieved 2020-10-07.

External links[edit]