India to have 1.2 mn HD subscribers on DTH by fiscal-end

MUMBAI: India will have 1.2 million HD subscribers on DTH by the end of this fiscal, industry experts said here today.

Pricing is a sticky issue but aggressive marketing will push the demand for HD channels.

Demonstrating the success of Movies Now, Media Network and Distribution Network India CEO and MD Yogesh Radhakrishnan said the idea for an HD channel came in 2007. In 2009 the decision was made that Movies Now had to be taken across digital and analogue on the same feed. The analogue market is large and the channel looks better than competition even in this segment.
"So we went the dual way. We approached the DTH operators," added Radhakrishnan, conceding that it was a humongous effort to transfer all content to HD. "There was a starting cost, but it has paid us twice over. We backed the project. People looked at our product as being superior."

Demand is key for HD channels to work. "We want to drive the HD market. We are looking at having an English music channel. We would also want a 3D launch," he said.

Videocon d2h CEO Anil Khera said that his company was the last to launch DTH. "We missed the World Cup but launched before the IPL. We wanted all HD channels on our platform. We have reserved bandwidth for future HD channels."

On the hardware side, Khera said that 14 million colour TV sets would be sold this fiscal our of which six million will be panels. "Close to one million HD panels will be sold. Some consumers will move to DTH, if cable is not offering HD."

Cost remains a main concern. Khera said there is not much difference between the cost of a standard definition box versus an HD one. He expects costs to come down further.

"MPEG 4 cost will in the near future be the same as MPEG 2. On the consumer electronics side, companies like Sony, LG, Samsung are pushing 3D and HD. But there is a bandwidth scarcity for 3D content," he stated.

AETN18 president Ajay Chacko noted that for History there is no input cost as content in this genre is mostly made in HD. There is a bandwith cost but he expects that to fall.

Sports and Bollywood content would drive the demand for HD, Khera said.

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