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When will HDTV arrive in Europe?

Erik Hanson

Will Christmas finally come for Europeans? That's the question asked by BusinessWeek as they look into the state of HDTV in Europe. While Americans, many Asians, and even South Africans can watch some high-def, Europe is mostly left out of the greatness of HD. It seems that there isn't much of a demand for HDTV on the continent, as only 800,000 people are getting any type of high-definition content, and a mere two million even own HD-ready sets. The industry has been pinning its hopes time and time again on big events to generate demand and adoption of the format, first the Summer Olympics in Athens, then the World Cup in Germany. Now that push is supposed to come from the upcoming holiday season.

In recent months, more content is coming over the air and via cables, and manufacturers are producing more equipment to watch HDTV on. The next generation of DVDs will also arrive soon, with Blu-ray in the UK and HD DVD launching in Europe as well. Of course, there is the age-old chicken-or-egg conundrum: Will consumers buy sets they can't watch anything on, or will all this great new programming drive them to buy sets to watch it with? Surely having pubs, sporting arenas, and friends' homes to watch the small amount of HDTV on will help spur growth as it has in other countries, but there has to be something else holding back adoption of HDTV. Perhaps it is the many languages and cultures on the continent that keep one unified strategy from working. Only time will tell if all the pieces can come together to show the whole high-def puzzle.

So what exactly is the deal -- do Europeans just not care? Are manufacturers and broadcasters not doing enough to promote HDTV in Europe? Or will we finally be able to launch our HD Beat European headquarters in time for 2007? Let us know what you think, especially if you're one of our apparently rare European readers.

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