It was nascent for quite a while after it was launched in India. But, as they say, seeing is believing. Thus, a handful of years after High Definition TV (HDTV) launched in India, the technology is picking up. And, once viewers were blown away by its stunning resolution and ‘life-like’ quality, its popularity extended beyond nature, sports and lifestyle channels.
Thus, after a slew of broadcasters like the Star Network, Zee TV and Colors, Sony Entertainment Television has joined the HD bandwagon. The HD feed of the channel will be available for analogue and digital distributors like Tata Sky, Airtel, Dish TV and Videocon. It will also be available on digital cable networks like Hathway and Seven Star.
While, earlier, it was mainly sports content that was available in HD in the country, more and more Hindi movies as well as general entertainment channels are going HD. HD sports channels were launched in 2011 – ESPN HD, Star Cricket HD and Ten Sports HD. According to a FICCI KPMG report, the total number of TV channels in India went up to 623 in 2011, and many more are awaiting approval for broadcast. There has been a significant increase in demand for satellite bandwidth with the introduction of HD channels, and DTH expansion and new channel launches are on the cards.
There has also been an increase in the number of LCD and plasma TV sales, which are expected to grow at a CAGR of 22 per cent over 2011, to 15. Broadcasters and DTH players have expanded their HD offerings too. With an increasing uptake of affordable HD TVs, consumers may be willing to pay a premium for a better viewing experience on these television sets.
But just as 3D faced some teething trouble when it came to India, there were apprehensions over HD content too. Some said there wasn’t enough while others pointed out that this was due to the lack of sufficient HD-ready channels.
JD Majethia of Hats Off Production says, “HD content is the way forward for Indian broadcast and with more and more channels going HD, production houses are also producing content in HD.”So, as of now, there are shows like Beheney, Ek Doosre Se Karte Hain Pyar Hum on Star Plus and Sony’s latest offering Byah Hamari Bahu Ka that have been shot in HD. Majethia adds, “HD also saves us the cost of stock and so it is better than shooting content on standard definition. It enables viewers to watch cinema quality content in the comfort of their home.”
No doubt HD is here to stay. However, given the high investments in production and broadcast of HD content combined with the lower-than-optimum penetration of the HD subscriber base, broadcasters are treading with caution.