HD demand boosts SES' full-year results

Continuing broadcaster demand for high-definition television distribution capacity helped boost full-year profits and sales at satellite operator SES Global. SES Global, which announced the $1.2bn purchase of smaller rival New Skies Satellites in December, said profits rose by 12.1% to ?382m while sales increased by 16.7% to ?1.258bn.

The year saw two new spacecraft launched and the initiation of three construction programmes. Of the 745 transponders available to customers 549 had been leased—that's a utilisation of 74%, up 11% on the year.

"Video remains the primary engine of growth in our business, fed by the organic growth of digital television, with added momentum from the continued development and penetration of high-definition TV programming," said SES Global.

"In terrestrial distribution, IP-encapsulated television programming (IPTV) is also growing and developing its customer reach in a number of markets, opening another opportunity for satellite distribution to the edge of telecom networks."

In Europe SES Astra was now transmitting 1,064 direct-to-home channels. First HD contracts were signed within the year with BSkyB, ProSiebenSat.1, Premiere, and the BBC "heralding the start of a broad introduction of HD programming via satellite into the European markets".

SES Astra's utilisation rose to 90% with 183 of the 204 commercially available transponders leased to customers.

SES Global CEO Romain Bausch said: "SES' strategy is further validated by these strong results. We have continued to invest in developing satellite-centric service offerings within SES and these have contributed to the financial growth recorded in the period. Their contribution will grow over the coming years."

Bausch confirmed that the New Skies purchase had been approved by that company's shareholders while the US Justice Department and German authorities had completed their reviews, with the prospect that the deal could be closed in the second quarter.

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