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Austria’s public broadcaster preps for next generation satellite service

Austria has always been a logical place for its own satellite TV, but for the most part has had to be satisfied with being a free satellite market plu


Published: 6 January, 2011


Austria has always been a logical place for its own satellite TV, but for the most part has had to be satisfied with being a free satellite market plus a support act for Sky Deutschland, just adding around 10% of its subscribers in Austria to the existing 2.25 million that take the service in Germany. But since late 2009 public broadcast infrastructure company ORS (Österreichische Rundfunksender), a subsidiary of ORF (Österreichischer Rundfunk) Austria’s national public service broadcaster, has been slowly building its options so that it can eat into Pay TV services with a satellite HD DVB-T2 hybrid offering of its own.

Just prior to Christmas it formed a company called ORS Comm to develop its own pay TV platform according to Broadband TV News and the project is being called “TV direkt” internally. ORS already has a satellite offering with partner M7 Group, launched in late 2010 and it’s hard to see just where this new offering will fall, but perhaps it’s partly an extension of the existing low priced 19 channel offering.

It appears that a new hybrid receiver has gone out on RFP which will bring its existing €7.90 a month AustriaSat service, plus free satellite services, to Austrian homes, but also existing ORS free channels in HD, as well as VoD over the open internet. The idea is to put this hybrid offering, which also works using a new DVB-T2 complex, into play in the run up to the 2012 European Football Championship, so presumably it will rely on having HD access to those games as well.

Austria was one of the ill-fated countries that tried to launch broadcast mobile TV services at the last European Championship, which was jointly held there and in Switzerland , but that service is now defunct. This new idea is supposed to slowly build from what was once a free to air service, to this new low priced satellite option, right up to a full pay TV offering, including sport, and then steal customers from both UPC, the dominant cable company there; Sky Deutschland and Telekom Austria’s AonTV IPTV service.

Response to the new AustriaSat service so far has been low, and it was really targeted at bringing over existing unpaid satellite customers of which there are around 1.8 million in Austria. It has also already gone through analog switch off, so many homes are undecided about their precise TV requirements right now. But AustriaSat only came out in October with channels from Sony, Viacom, NBC Universal, ProSiebenSat.1, RTL and adult channels, so it’s early days yet.

Austriasat was launched to recover from a previously unsuccessful digital TV venture called ORF Digital – which was a free package launched in 2008 to push HD versions of ORF1 and ORF2. AustriaSat uses the same set tops and same encryption and just needs a satellite dish to get the new service, which many homes have already.

Back in 2009 ORF has already launched an internet-based catch-up service ORF-TVthek in November, which catches up around 70 TV series. The service is free of charge, and we presume that the hybrid service will also offer access to this direct to the TV as well, plus additional internet only content.


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