Boom times ahead for satellite telly

Satellite TV watching is booming in the UK with Sky subscriptions reaching an all-time high. Increased satellite capacity promises us more choice too

More of us are getting turned on to satellite TV than ever before, the latest subscriber numbers from Sky suggest.

The satellite broadcaster says its added 349,000 new subscribers in the last year. That's a real increase of 90,000 when you factor in churn - the number of people who have also cancelled their subs in the last 12 months. Sky says it now has 8.582 million subscribers in total.

Sky subscriptions have also risen by 207,000 to 2.374 million; while Sky HD subs have soared from 48,000 a year ago to 292,000 now.

The new is a bit of a poke in the eye for Virgin Media which has been shedding subscribers since Sky withdrew its basic TV channel package following a dispute between the two companies.

Astra boosts satellite capacity

Sky's good fortunes will no doubt be boosted by satellite operator SES Astra . It has been able to move an existing satellite so its points at the UK and Ireland following the launch of another aimed at continental Europe.

The Astra 2C satellite has now been moved from its original 19.2-degrees east position to 28.2-degrees east, with 10 of the unit's 16 transponders now aimed at the UK and Ireland.

"The new satellite allows us to redeploy our fleet and significantly increase the capacity for the important UK and Irish markets," says Ferdinand Kayser, SES Astra president and CEO.

This extra capacity should enable Sky to offer more channels - handy for its high definition service. And it may also help the BBC in its bid to launch its free satellite TV service Freesat .