Successful analogue switch-off: welcome to the digital TV era, Germany

When the music’s over, turn out the lights: Last night, analogue satellite TV in Germany came to an end. And there will be no encore. All remaining analogue TV programmes have been switched off in Europe’s largest TV market. Thanks to the meticulously technical preparations of broadcasters and SES, one of the biggest changes in German TV history went off without a hitch between 3am and 6am this morning.

23 years ago, on 8 December 1989, broadcasters Sat.1, Pro7 and RTL Plus marked the beginning of a new TV era in Germany. They were the first German language channels on ASTRA 1A, plenty did follow throughout the years. Analogue TV via ASTRA quickly became a huge success story. In 1996, pay-TV operator DF1 was the first broadcaster to air its channels digital via ASTRA. Well, in Germany there is a saying, the better is the enemy of the good. And this clearly is true for digital TV, offering viewers more programs in better quality, especially HDTV.

Since the market launch of HD in Germany in 2006, the team of ASTRA Germany has been pushing for digital TV, especially by running dozens of digitization campaigns and co-operations with broadcasters and sales partners and by educating thousands of sales people to become ambassadors of digital satellite TV in Germany. And of course, by convincing broadcasters to join the ever increasing digital TV neighbourhood. It is probably no exaggeration to say that all of these efforts have been quite successful. As of today, there are 280 digital TV channels in German language available via ASTRA. Thereof, already more than 50 broadcasted in HD quality – in 2010, there were only 12. The team has also successfully leveraged the huge awareness for the analogue switch-off to spread the advantages of digital DTH overall the country. The campaigns considerably helped to become the leading TV infrastructure in Germany in 2011 – for the first time ever. Today, 17.5m TV homes in Germany are enjoying digital satellite TV. We are pretty sure, they won’t look back in anger to the analogue era.  

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