Facts on the Hot Bird Satellite

Updated April 17, 2017

Hot Bird is the name of a group of satellites that provides digital television and radio channels to consumers in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa. Some channels are free-to-air while others require a subscription. Hot Bird is operated by Eutelsat Communications, a satellite services provider located in France.


Several Hot Bird satellites have been launched since Eutelsat's inception. The principle satellites active and in orbit as of June 2011 are Hot Bird 6, Hot Bird 8 and Hot Bird 9.

Hot Bird 6 was launched in 2002 and includes 32 transponders. Hot Bird 8, which was launched in 2008, includes 64 transponders. Its launch mass of 4.9 tons makes it Europe's largest broadcast satellite. Hot Bird 9 was launched in December 2008 and includes 38 transponders.

Broadcast Packages and Providers

The Hot Bird satellites group, the orbital position of which is -10.6 degrees C east, offers 13 broadcast packages that air more than 500 pay television channels. The packages include the American Forces Network, Bis TV, Cyfra+, Cyfrowy Polsat, Eurosport, Globecast, N, NOVA Cyprus, NOVA Greece, Sky Italia, Telecom Serbia, Tivu Sat and Viacom.

Hot Bird stations are broadcast in 47 languages to more than 120 million people. Hot Bird viewers and listeners include more than 62 million people in Western Europe, more than 31 million in Eastern Europe and close to 28 million people in the Middle East and North Africa.

Hot Bird satellite providers include Arqiva (United Kingdom), Eutelsat (France), GLOBCOS Networks GmbH (Switzerland), Globecast (France), RRSat (Israel), Sky Italia (Italy) and Wide Network Solutions (United Kingdom).

Free-to-Air Channels

Hot Bird offers 1,157 channels, more than 500 of which are free-to-air channels and more than 80 of which are high-definition television channels. Hot Bird also offers more than 500 radio channels as well as several interactive and multimedia services.

Some of Hot Bird's multimedia offerings include games, gambling services and real-time update services such as weather and traffic channels.

"Free-to-air" refers to television and radio services that are broadcast either digitally and unencrypted or via antenna. Anyone with an appropriate receiver and antenna or satellite signal can view or hear those channels free of charge.


Eutelsat is a Paris-based satellite operator that manages 27 satellites, including Hot Bird satellites. Founded in 1977, Eutelsat began providing services to Europe via its Hot Bird satellite series in the 1980s and expanded to the Middle East and North Africa in the 1990s. Eutelsat is one of the three largest satellite operators in the world, broadcasting close to 4,000 channels to more than 190 million viewers in 150 countries worldwide. More than 60 per cent of Eutelsat's viewership is through the Hot Bird satellite group. Eutelsat offers several interactive services, such as digital program guides and video on demand, all exclusively through its Hot Bird satellite group.

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About the Author

Hosam El-Aker's digital media career began in the 1990s, when online journalism was still in its infancy. His range of work includes published pieces in the fields of technology and electronics, website development, sports and world politics. The Washington, D.C. native has worked in Web development for 10 years and earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from West Virginia University.