From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: The number of television channels in Europe continued to nudge upwards in 2009 despite the global recession. There are 7,200 television channels based in Europe. If you take into account U.S. channels and others being beamed into the EU, the number of channels available to European viewers reaches a staggering 8,600. Movie channels and television drama continue to dominate in terms of channel genre. There were 496 movie and drama channels in the 27 European Union member states last year. Sports were in second place with 419 channels followed by light entertainment (318 channels).
There were 25 more television channels being watched in European homes overall last year. The most popular genre for new channels were sports channels (38 new channels in 2009), followed by children’s channels (17 launches). Although 245 new European channels launched, there were about 220 closures. Almost half of the closures came from Spain, where Prisa Group shut down 100 local Spanish channels. Other notable closures included MTV closing its Baltic versions and the Setanta Group’s botched attempt to show UK Premier League football (ESPN took over control of soccer rights). According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, the Strasbourg-based film and television data organisation, Italy is the second busiest hub for TV channels, hosting 388, followed by France (297), Germany (227) and then Spain (195).
Remember when Britain had only the BBC and ITV? Then came the launch of Channel 4 in the mid-1980s. Well, Britain now hosts more than a thousand television channels, almost half of which are being beamed to other European countries. These include the foreign-language versions of Disney’s channels such as Disney Cinemagic. The number is only set to increase given Disney’s recent announcement that it’s going to increase the number of series it makes in London for export overseas to seven a year. The London production hub is currently making just two at the moment.
Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), meanwhile, continues to roll out across Europe. Six European countries – Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden – have switched off their analogue signal completely. This means that viewers can watch multichannel television through their regular rooftop aerials. Regions of Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy and the UK have also switched off the analogue signal. Switch-off is due to take place this year in Austria, Malta, Spain and Slovenia. Also this year, DTT will launch in Bulgaria, Ireland and Romania. DTT became available in Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia for the first time in 2009. There are 730 television channels being carried over European DTT networks, compared with just 500 as recently as April 2009.