At least 245 new TV channels were launched in Europe last year despite the economic crisis, according to figures released by the European Audiovisual Observatory.
The additions mean that the total number of channels in the 27 EU countries plus Croatia and Turkey stood at 7,200 at the end of the year.
Of the new channels to launch, sport led the field, accounting for 38 launches, followed by kids channels with 17 launches. About 150 thematic channels on cable, satellite and IPTV platforms launched in the course of the year, including Investigation Discovery. About 6% of European channels are international.
The UK was the European leader in available channels, with 1,033 channels established there. Almost half of the channels established in the UK broadcast to other European countries. Italy had 388 channels, followed by France with 297, Germany with 227 and Spain with 195.
About 220 channels ceased transmission in 2009, including over 100 local channels in Spain following the closing down of the Localia network controlled by the Prisa Group. Others to go included MTV Baltic, local language variations of the Bloomberg Channel and Setanta Sports in the UK.
The latest figures from theÂ Audovisual ObservatoryÂ also reveal that 730 channels are currently transmitted via digital-terrestrial networks in Europe. DTT services were operating in 24 countries by the end of the year, with six (Germany, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden) having completed digital switchover. Services are scheduled to launch in Bulgaria, Ireland and Romania this year, with Austria, Malta, Spain and Slovenia due to compete the switchover process in 2010. The number of pay-DTT companies across Europe rose from 14 to 20 during 2009.
The overall number of cable operators dropped slightly in the course of the year, but still stands at over 4,000. IPTV operators rose from 68 at the end of 2008 to 90 at the end of 2009. Satellite TV distributors numbered 60 at the end of the year, up from 51 in 2008.