HD+

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This article is about the television service "HD+"; for the computer screen resolution see Computer display standard.

HD PLUS GmbH
Privately owned subsidiary
Industry Telecommunications
Founded May 2009
Headquarters Unterföhring, Germany
Key people
Wilfried Urner (CEO)
Products Direct Broadcast Satellite
Website hd-plus.de

HD+ is a package of high-definition digital satellite TV channels for German-speaking viewers and (as HD PLUS GmbH) the company providing that package, based in Unterföhring near Munich, Germany. HD+ is a subsidiary company of SES based in Betzdorf, Luxembourg.

HD+ provides a broadcast platform from satellites at the Astra 19.2°E position, independent from TV operators, for channels outside of the established pay-TV networks, and requires a dedicated receiver or an HD+ conditional-access module and Smart Card. Since summer 2011, HD+ channels have also been available to Sky Deutschland subscribers. As of December 2016, there are nearly 3 million HD+ households in Germany.[1]

The company grew out of MX1 (then ASTRA Platform Services, later SES Platform Services) 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-air broadcasters Freesat and Tivù Sat, and free-to-view Fransat.[2]

In September 2015, HD+ started broadcast of an ultra-high-definition television demonstration channel. UHD1 shows sports, culture, lifestyle, and nature video clips and trailers for use by dealers and UHD 'enthusiasts'.[3] On April 2, 2016, UHD1 carried a live broadcast of the Le Corsaire ballet in Ultra HD from the Vienna State Opera. The broadcast was free-to-air and produced by SES in collaboration with European culture channel ARTE.[4]


HD+ channels[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 in January 2010. Other German free-to-air HD channels broadcasting from Astra 19.2°E such as Das Erste HD, Arte HD, and ZDF HD can also be received with the same receiver used for HD+ and also with any independent free-to-air HD receiver.

In the months leading up to the launch of HD+, it was reported that MTV and DSF – already broadcasting in HD from Astra 19.2°E – were in discussions to join the package.[5] DSF HD (now called Sport1 HD) began test broadcasts in August 2010 and commenced a full 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. In September 2014, MTV HD left the Sky Deutschland pay-TV platform and became the 21st channel to join free-to-view HD+, some six years after the first discussions. However, MTV HD is not available for customers that view HD+ via Sky Deutschland, as there is no VideoGuard encryption enabled for MTV HD.

On December 1, 2010, German women's entertainment channel sixx (which, like kabel eins, ProSieben and Sat.1, is owned by ProSiebenSat.1 Media) launched a high definition service on the HD+ platform

In October 2010 it was announced that entertainment channel RTL2 would launch in high-definition in the HD+ package in early December[6] and in June 2011, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon from MTV Networks joined the HD+ platform[7] and it was announced that news channel, N24 would join HD+ from July, bringing the number of channels offered to 11.[8]

Tele5 HD launched on HD+ in October 2011. 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. The 15th channel to join HD+ was adult pop music channel Deluxe Music, in December 2012.

Disney Channel HD left the German pay-TV platform, Sky Deutschland in November 2013 and relaunched on HD+ in January 2014 as an advertising-financed service with entertainment programming aimed at children and families during the day and at adults in the evening.[9]

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 free-to-view channels on the platform to 20.[10]

On September 2, 2014 MTV HD left the Sky Deutschland pay-TV satellite platform and became the 21st channel to join HD+.[11] In October, the number of channels was reduced back to 20 when Viacom reorganized its channels in Germany and as a result, Comedy Central was no longer available via HD+. Nickelodeon, which previously shared its channel with Comedy Central, increased its broadcast hours to 24 hours a day.[12]

On January 1, 2015 the women's channel Sat.1 Gold started broadcasting in HD on the HD+ platform. It is the last of ProSiebenSat.1's SD channels to launch in HD.

On October 4, 2016 INsight TV HD, an action adventure and extreme sports channel from TV Entertainment Reality Network (TERN) became the 22nd HD+ channel. INsight TV had first launched in October 2015 as a free-to-air channel on Astra 19.2°E.

On December 1, 2016 the sports's channel Eurosport 1 HD started broadcasting in HD on the HD+ platform.

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.[13]

Marketing[edit]

Viewers buying an HD+ certified receiver also receive an HD+ smart card valid for 12 months' viewing of the HD+ package. At the end of the free viewing period, the validity of the card can be extended for a further year on payment of €50, either online or by phone from HD+, or in stores.[14]

The decision to charge for access to the HD+ package, while promoting it as free TV, was met with some criticism within Germany. However, Ferdinand Kayser, then president and CEO of SES Astra, has 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".[15]

In April 2011, HD+ and Sky Deutschland announced agreement that all the HD+ channels would be available to Sky Deutschland subscribers from the summer, without an HD+ receiver or CAM. Sky subscribers with a standard Sky HD satellite receiver and smartcard will then be able to watch and record the eight HD+ channels, along with the 12 existing Sky HD channels and five free-to-air German HD channels (which also broadcast via Astra 19.2°E). The HD+ channels will be available to Sky subscribers for free for the first 12 months and then for an annual fee of €50.[16]

In November 2013 the free viewing period for new subscribers to the HD+ platform was reduced from one year to 6 months.[17] 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.[18] In February 2017, the annual subscription was increased from €60 to €70 and the monthly fee raised from €5.00 to €5.75.[19]

Online catch-up[edit]

In January 2013, HD+ launched the RePlay online catch-up TV service, offering full-length programmes up to seven days after their first DTH broadcast. RePlay is a hybrid service combining the satellite reception of the HD+ platform and an online connected service using the HbbTV standard. It requires an HbbTV-based hybrid HD+ set-top box with special software and a connection to the Internet (a broadband speed of at least 6 Mbit/s is recommended).[20]

To use the RePlay service, a subscription fee of €5 per month or €15 per three months is payable after a three-month free trial period, on top of the normal annual or monthly service fee.

Second screen[edit]

Announced in November 2016 and launched in February 2017, HD+ ExtraScreen enables households with a suitable 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. The set-top-box distributes encrypted and free-to-air channels via the household’s local Wi-Fi network to the mobile devices, independent of the channel showing on the connected TV set.

Initially, the only ExtraScreen-enabled box is the Humax UHD 4tune+ and the HD+ Connect app (free to obtain and ad-free) is only available for iOS devices. Other manufacturers are expected to incorporate ExtraScreen into their set-top boxes, and an Android version of HD+ Connect is expected in Q2 of 2017.

From April 2017, ExtraScreen will also be able to stream channels to secondary TVs connected to a Humax H1 media player, and in the future the HD+ Connect app will be extended to provide remote control of the set-top box.[21]

Service uptake and criticism[edit]

Before HD+ launched, there was some criticism because of limitations it might impose on the use of the service. Some channels had already announced they were going to deny the viewer some regular functions by software, e.g. fast-forwarding during commercials or the ability to record broadcasts to watch at a later time. Some viewers even formed Anti-HD+ campaigns, trying to prevent HD+ becoming accepted.

However, in May 2011 – some 18 months after the launch of the service – SES announced that as of March 31, 2011, 769,000 households in Germany were receiving HD+ via satellite, that 827,000 HD+ receivers had been sold, and that of the 172,000 HD+ viewers who had purchased an HD+ device with an HD+ card between November 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010 (and who had therefore exceeded their free trial period) 114,000, or 66%, had renewed their HD+ service by paying the annual €50 fee. 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".[22]

By May 2012, the number of households receiving HD+ had more than trebled, to over 2.6 million, with about 2.1 million users utilizing the 12-month free trial period, and over 500,000 paying the €50 annual service fee.[23]

In October 2012, HD+ and SES announced that three years after the launch of the service, there were 2,800,631 households receiving the service, with 2,039,175 households in their initial 12-month free trial period and 761,456 households paying the HD+ annual fee (an increase of nearly 285% year-on-year), and that HD receivers (for HD+ and for Sky Deutschland HD) made up 50% of all satellite set-top boxes sold in Germany.[24] In February 2013, the number of households paying for the HD+ service exceeded 1 million for the first time.[25]

By October 2014, five years since the launch of HD+, over 1.59 million households were paying the €60/year (or €5/month) service fee, up by more than 300,000 since the previous year. The (now six-month) free trial period was being enjoyed by an additional 1.3 million homes, giving the HD+ platform a total reach of 2.9 million households.[26] By the end of 2014, the total number of households receiving the HD+ platform passed 3 million, including 1.65 million paying for the service.[27] In December 2015, the number of subscribers reached 1,840,800[28] and at the end of 2016 over 2 million households subscribed to the service.[1]

Receivers[edit]

The HD+ channels are encrypted using Nagravision and VideoGuard encryption (the latter for Sky Deutschland receivers), and reception and decryption is only possible with certain combinations of receiver and conditional-access module (CAM).

The primary route to HD+ reception is with the receivers designed especially for HD+. As of February 2010 HD+ reports that there are eight models of HD+ receiver available, ranging from simple single tuner units to twin-tuner, recording receivers with Internet access.[29] HD+ certified receivers carry the HD+ logo on the packaging and/or the receiver’s front panel.

Existing receivers and TVs with integrated satellite tuners that are capable of tuning to the DVB-S2/MPEG4 HD+ signal can also be used provided they are equipped with a CI+ or CI 2.0 common interface socket (including content protection to allow the blocking of recording broadcast content) for a plug-in Nagravision HD+ CAM which will be available in Spring 2010 for a price of about €100, including the HD+ smart card.[30]

Some DVB-S2 receivers with a standard CI (not CI+) common interface socket can also be fitted with a (different) HD+ CAM and receive HD+ channels when new firmware is downloaded to the receiver to imitate the CI+ content protection. CI CAMs (with the HD+ smart card) are expected to be available from stores in the Summer of 2010 for €100.[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Number of HD+ subscribers in Germany passes two million mark" (Press release). SES. February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  2. ^ "HD+ engagiert sich in der europäischen FreeTV Alliance (in German)" (Press release). HD+. October 29, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  3. ^ "ULTRA HD VIA SATELLITE: UHD1 BY ASTRA / HD + STARTS AT IFA 2015" (Press release). HD+. August 31, 2015. Retrieved January 27, 2016. 
  4. ^ SES and ARTE to Broadcast Le Corsaire Ballet Live in Ultra HD via Astra 19.2 Business Wire. March 29, 2016. Accessed march 30, 2016
  5. ^ Briel, Robert MTV and DSF might join HD+ Broadband TV News September 28, 2009
  6. ^ "RTL2 LAUNCHES IN HIGH DEFINITION ON HD+ IN GERMANY" (Press release). SES Astra. October 25, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Nickelodeon HD and Comedy Central HD join HD+" (Press release). SES Astra. June 1, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  8. ^ "German news channel N24 joins HD+" (Press release). SES Astra. June 15, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  9. ^ Krieger, Jorn Disney Channel moves German pay-TV exit forward Rapid TV News December 10, 2013
  10. ^ "Willkommen in der HD+ Familie (in German)" (Press release). HD+. Retrieved August 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ MTV HD über Sat und Entertain in neuen Programmpaketen Digital fernsehen. September 2, 2014. Retrieved December 30, 2014
  12. ^ Lilie, Frank. "Neue Positionierung des Senderportfolies von Viacom International Media". HD+ Presse. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  13. ^ "Fußball-Bundesliga live: Der Ball rollt auch bei HD+(in German)" (Press release). HD+. Retrieved August 29, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Private Broadcasters To Launch HD With HD+ On November 1, 2009" (Press release). SES Astra. October 12, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  15. ^ Briel, Robert Kayser rebuffs critics of HD+ platform Broadband TV News September 10, 2009
  16. ^ "Sky Deutschland expands market leading HD service with 8 additional channels" (Press release). Sky Deutschland. April 11, 2011. 
  17. ^ HD+ extends contract with broadcasters November 27, 2013 Broadband TV News. Accessed March 29, 2017
  18. ^ Astra's HD+ to add three new channels February 7, 2014 Rapid TV News. Accessed March 29, 2017
  19. ^ German HD+ platform raises prices, adds multiscreen November 28, 2016 Broadband TV News. Accessed March 29, 2017
  20. ^ "HD+ RePlay: Neue Video-on-Demand-Plattform bei HD+ SmartTV" (Press release). HD+ (German). December 9, 2012. 
  21. ^ HD+ launches multiscreen app for DTH channels Broadband TV News February 8, 2017. Accessed March 1, 2017
  22. ^ "New TV service HD+ in Germany successfully established" (Press release). SES Astra. May 2, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2012. 
  23. ^ "HD+ Viewers Surge". OnAstra.com. May 14, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Third quarter 2012: HD+ records more than 750,000 paying households for the first time" (Press release). SES Astra. October 31, 2012. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  25. ^ "More German HD Viewers, Services, Channels". OnAstra.com. February 17, 2013. Retrieved March 27, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Quartal 2014: HD+ baut Kundenstamm abermals aus (German)" (Press release). HD+. October 31, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  27. ^ "SES PLATFORM HD+ IN GERMANY REACHES MORE THAN 3 MILLION HOUSEHOLDS" (Press release). SES. February 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  28. ^ "HD+ RECORDS 11.3 PERCENT GROWTH IN SUBSCRIBERS IN 2015" (Press release). SES. January 29, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2016. 
  29. ^ HD+ Empfang via HD+ Receiver HD+ website list of HD+ receivers (German). Retrieved February 22, 2010
  30. ^ "HD+ künftig auch über HDTV-Receiver mit CI-Schnittstelle" (PDF) (Press release). HD Plus. December 22, 2009. 
  31. ^ HD+ Empfang via CI Modul HD+ Modul website information on CAMs (German). Retrieved February 22, 2010

External links[edit]