The HOT BIRD family at 13° East forms one of the largest broadcasting systems in Europe, delivering 1100 television channels to more than 120 million TV homes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The HOT BIRD video neighbourhood hosts 13 premium platforms, over 600 pay-TV channels, almost 500 free-to-air channels and over 150 HDTV channels. In addition to broadcasting television services, the system provides over 500 radio stations and multimedia services.
Eutelsat and EADS ASTRIUM announced in September 2003 the signature of a contract for the construction the Hot Bird 8 broadcast satellite which was launched in early 2006 by Arianespace on-board an Ariane 5 rocket.
With 64 transponders that can be operated simultaneously, of which 58 transponders will operate at full power for most of the satellite’s lifetime, Hotbird 8 is the largest satellite yet ordered by Eutelsat. It will join the company’s constellation of HOT BIRD broadcasting satellites at 13° East that provide television, radio and interactive services to almost 100 million cable and satellite homes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
Hotbird 8’s mission is to replace existing Hotbird capacity and to join Hot Bird 7A in bringing in-orbit sparing to a level where 13° East can maintain its reputation as one of the most secure multi-satellite video neighbourhoods. The satellite has been designed to cover all 102 Ku-band transponders/frequencies at 13° East which means that it can substitute any transponder on the other Hotbird satellites.
In December 2011 Eutelsat announced, that their satellite assets will be renamed under a unified brand name effective from March 2012. Hot Bird 8 and 9 became Eutelsat Hot Bird 13B and 13C respectively.