European Space Agency

Planning the Next Generation of Broadcasting Satellites


The study permited a complete understanding of the broadcasting new market trends and services needs. Based on the Broadcasting Satellite Services (BSS) requirements, several system architectures with their business case have been proposed and optimised. Finally, a European industry strategy and required supports from the Agency for further programmes have been identified.

SES Broadcasting Satellite Astra2B, manufactured by Astrium




Digital broadcasting services are growing fast. At the same time, in a market driven by internet applications, more interactivity is expected on the TV set. The TV-PC convergence and the rapid development of technologies for personalisation and storage are redefining the digital TV business from simply providing choice and interactivity to providing a sophisticated form of On-Demand TV.

If for sure On-Demand applications and personalised content should be a major issue for next generation broadcasting business, multimedia content delivery to mobile and nomadic users will be the challenge of future systems.

Key trends of the business include:

  • Standardisation of communication protocols (DVB-S, DVB-RCS, DVB-RCGSM, DVB-T), platform integration (DVB-MHP, DVB-MCP) and content formatting (MHEG 5/6, MPEG4, MPEG7, MPEG21) should permit to reduce costs and facilitate interconnection with terrestrial networks
  • Creating new added-value services to generate new revenue streams, with a mixed business model encompassing revenue flows from content, advertising, on-line transactions and subscriptions
  • Bringing new classes of service to market, including premium services, video-on-demand (VOD) and near-video-on-demand (NVOD), personalised line ups, a-la-carte programming
  • Developing new market niches to increase differentiation and seduce new subscribers
  • Polishing branding and programming to acquire market shares and retain audiences
  • Monitoring and analysing consumer feedback to refine business strategy and mastering operational costs to maximise return on investments.

Finally, emerging competition from terrestrial systems (DTT, ADSL, LMDS, UMTS, etc.) must be taken into account when designing the system.


The project should enable a complete understanding of the key trends in the new generation BSS market:

  • Interesting market segments to address and services to be provided to the end-user

  • Quantification of the market opportunities

  • Identification of the value chain actors and characterisation of interfaces

  •  Services technical requirements from both infrastructure operator and content editors points of view

  • Business scenarios with corresponding preliminary system design and business case optimisation

  • Identification of the key technologies to be supported by the Agency for their strategic importance

  • Identification of potential partners for further collaboration

As terrestrial broadband technologies will compete soon with satellite systems, satellite market shares in broadcasting have to be enforced with adequate systems addressing current and future market demands.

Therefore, the project should identify possible European strategy in the field of broadcasting satellite systems alongside with the key technologies that would have to be supported. The role of ESA, of the European Commission and of other national agencies to support this European strategy in the broadcasting satellites arena will be clearly defined.




The study is divided into five tasks, in accordance with the following plan:

Task 1

  • -First, analysis of the services market forecast from the user demand perspective

  • -Then competition identification and satellite leading edges stressed -Satellite market segmentation to identify the targets

  • -Quantitative forecast per segment, alongside with identification of the Critical Success Factors per segment

  • -From these forecasts, development of market mix scenario(s)

  • -Critical review by a leading satellite operator

Task 2

  • -Identification of the value chain & main players per scenario

  • -Relative profit shares modelling

Task 3

  • -Derivation of services technical requirements from an infrastructure operator point of view

  • -Objective of a seamless integration with terrestrial systems

  • -Requirements imposed by new contents formats and delivery mechanisms

Task 4

  • -Address system architecture & forecast scenarios optimised

  • -Corresponding business case

  • -Optimisation of system design.

Task 5

  • -Risk analysis of the space segment

  • -Possible European strategy in the field of BSS

  • -Key technologies to be supported

Current status

The study was kicked-off on November 6th, 2000, and was concluded Early 2002. Taxonomy of services was established and seven market segments were identified. This is presented in the following table:

Four market scenarios (mix market segments & set of services) were created and studied from the business perspective, i.e. both the possible market organisations and quantitative estimates. These scenarios are:

1. Enhanced "traditional broadcasting" DTH services, addressing directly the final user with TV & radio channels, on-demand music & TV programming and push media services.
2. Broadcasting of content to intermediaries mainly cable head ends, ISPs and content providers.
3. Internet access offering through broadcasting satellite on a bundling-basis with PSTN and ADSL terrestrial networks.
4. Mobile services, where satellite is part of the delivery chain, either Direct-To-Mobile or broadcasting towards mobile LANs as e.g. transport means.

In parallel, a number of technical requirements of each of the services were identified as potentially of interest for the end user. A group of content and application providers has been established a set of requirements for the satellite as part of an end-to-end service provision for their particular business needs. Business opportunities for each of the scenarios identified above have been assessed as well as the corresponding system and sub-sequent elements. A set of new development areas has been identified for both the ground and space segments, while a possible European strategy is proposed.
The Executive Summary Report of this study is available here

Status date

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 12:48