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Indian HD TV channels: attracting brands, and media agencies

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MUMBAI: There was a time not so long ago when Sony Entertainment Television‘s Six HD channel was getting almost no TV commercials. It was the place where you got to watch sports almost uninterrupted.

No more.

With the Sony Entertainment Network and other TV networks focusing on increasing their respective HD TV channels‘ reach, and MSOs and cable TV operators and DTH operators beginning to offer and attracting subscribers for the clearer HD TV channel services, it is no surprise to see TVCs on the trot on HD channels.

Says Sony Six and Max executive vice president and business head Neeraj Vyas: "Advertising has started in HD and it will eventually catch on, after all everyone is looking to do business. You can’t be running a channel which is free of advertising. Once subscriptions settle down post digitisation, we will witness an even greater rise in the number of ad spots on HD TV channels as well."

Among the brands which have started advertising on Sony Six HD during the ongoing Pepsi IPL6 include: Pepsi, Parle Krackjack, Raymond, Matrix, Renault Duster, LG, Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Vicco, Frooti, Godrej Good Knight and Coke.

Media industry sources reveal that advertising on HD entails a fraction of the cost that is usually spent for TV spots on regular standard definition channels. Says a media agency CEO: "If a media buyer wants to buy ad spots for all the 76 matches on Max for IPL6, the rates will be approximately Rs 4,25,000 for 10 seconds and for Sony Six HD the rates will be Rs 50,000 for 10 seconds."

Vyas agrees that TV commercials rates today are far lower on HD transmission than standard definition television ad rates, but that is because of low HD TV penetration rates in India. "My estimate is that there are about 1.2 to 1.4 million HD TV subscribers in India," he says. "But it is, however, a step in the right direction because everything globally is moving towards HD."

"The fact of the matter is that advertisers and agencies should look at using HD channels more to air their TV commercials," says a media observer. "For certain brands and categories, they are ideal vehicles to reach out to selected targeted audiences.

HD subscribers are normally well-heeled, have travelled, have large disposable incomes, are looking for better things out of life, and are willing to pay for them. Hence, automobiles, expensive phones, travel services, airlines, computers and tablets, high end fashion brands would do well to use HD channels to advertise."

Estimates are that HD TV channel advertising accounts for barely a quarter per cent of ad spends on TV in India. But the increasing uptake of HD TVs and channels by consumers indicates that it is a medium that is going to engage media agencies and advertisers.

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