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High on entertainment
The push to high-definition (HD) television has been prompted by the government’s decision to broadcast the 2010 Commonwealth Games only in the HD format. In fact, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, in an interview to Business Standard, emphasised that Doordarshan studios would be upgraded in time to provide HD feeds to TV channels.

Here’s why the government is so keen on HD broadcasts to commence this year:

The year of HD
Starting with the Indian Premier League-3 (IPL-3), which is being shot in HD, the year promises some major sporting events. Soon after IPL-3, major league events like the T20 World Cup, Monaco Grand Prix, French Open, FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon follow. Also, by the end of the year, Commonwealth Games 2010 will begin.

Television, by far, has been the cheapest form of consuming global and domestic sporting events. Statistically, television is the largest segment of the Indian media and entertainment industry, with a size of Rs 25,700 crore in 2009, reaching almost 500 million TV viewers. So, no content provider — broadcaster or cable operator — can dare to take this growing base of consumer for granted. Samsung has already discontinued its standard definition TV sets. “We only have HD-ready and full-HD TVs. Thirty per cent of our total flat panel TV sales are full-HD,” confirmed a Samsung spokesperson. With prices between Rs 17,000 and Rs 1.75 lakh, high-definition flat panel TVs have already made an entry into our living rooms. The increasing popularity of low-cost, mid-sized HD TVs is expected to convince more customers to consume the high-definition feed.

At the high end of business, manufacturers like LG, Sony, Panasonic and BenQ continue to develop even better displays and, in 2010, they will begin offering sets capable of rendering 3D images in the HD format.

What will you see on HD TVs?
Walk into any sports bar in the country and you’re likely to see the same thing. Walls adorned with rows of widescreen flat panels. But don’t expect to be treated to HD content on these. What you see are old standard-definition signals. Even worse, plain old standard-definition signals stretched disproportionately across the screen.

Cable operators and TV broadcasters realise they are leaving huge sums of money on the table, as many new HD TV sets aren’t being connected to high-definition, multi-channel TV services. “It is a major opportunity for direct-to-home (DTH) and cable operators to increase revenues from subscription to HD channels,” says Monica Tata, vice-president and deputy general manager (Entertainment Networks), Turner India.

With channels like HBO, Cartoon Network, Pogo and Imagine, Turner has been converting its standard definition content into HD feeds. At present, channels like National Geographic, Discovery, Viacom18’s Colors, Sun TV Network’s Sun TV and two regional language movie channels are available in high definition on Sun Direct’s DTH platform.


What’s a high-definition (HD) image?

Seeing an HD image is like looking out of a window instead of viewing a TV screen — it’s that sharp and detailed.

What are HD TV broadcasts?

HD broadcasts can deliver an aspect ratio of 16:9 (16 units of width for every 9 units of height) that is far superior to the standard TV ratio of 4:3. In fact, 16:9 is the ratio most movies use and it’s a better fit with our horizontally-oriented field of vision.

What does HD-ready and full-HD mean?
HD TVs come in resolutions of 720i and 720p to 1,080i and 1,080p — the latter is considered full-HD viewing. However, HD TVs that display a full-screen 4:3 aspect ratio are not considered full HD TVs.

Does it need special cables?
It’s important to use HDMI cables (cost extra) to connect external devices (like DVD or music players) to your HD TV. A TV with 1080p quality and 16:9 display will not display images at full capacity if RCA or Component cables are used instead of HDMI cables.

How do I get started with HD TVs?

First, you need to purchase an HD TV and add the equipment necessary to access high-definition channels. Next, add an HD-ready DTH or subscribe to a cable operator that provides HD transmission. If your TV is labelled ‘HD TV monitor’, it doesn’t have an internal HD TV tuner. You have to purchase one separately.

Will DTH providers be HD-ready too?
Yes, two direct-to-home service providers have already rolled out HD-ready set-top boxes (STBs) and more are expected to follow before August. The most recent entrant, Dish TV, will launch its HD-ready STBs within the next two months. Dish TV will launch high-definition STBs 30 per cent cheaper than Sun Direct — the only DTH operator with HD-ready STBs.

“The uptake of HD TV seems to be slower. We would have liked to promote the HD TV format during IPL matches, but official broadcaster SET Max received the rights to HD telecast only a day prior to the first IPL-3 match. At present, we get about 3,500-4,000 inquiries about the technology and the format daily,” lists Tony D’Silva, COO, Sun Direct. Tata Sky and Bharti, too, are expected to launch STBs that can receive high-definition signals for HD TVs. Vikram Kaushik, managing director and CEO, Tata Sky, says their soon-to-be-launched STBs will offer “a world-class service and better value to the Indian consumer.”

Ajai Puri, director and CEO (DTH), Bharti Airtel, also indicated that the company was not going to be left behind in the HD race. “We know the industry has launched HD STBs. You shall see new Bharti DTH products soon, along with affordable HD content.”

Sun Direct has already launched four channels in HD. “Our customers can swap their STB with an HD-STB and would be charged Rs 9,900 for a year of subscription. The subscription will include HD channels and all the other channels available on DTH,” added D’Silva. A standard STB costs Rs 2,000-2,500 along with a basic monthly subscription of Rs 300.

So, is HD TV worth it?
In a word — absolutely! In a few more words, anyone who tells you that there’s not enough content available in HD TV isn’t paying attention. Just about every major broadcaster — like ESPN, CNN, Fox and Colors, among others – is readying content in high definition.

Source: Business Standard

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Can't wait for the Launch of HD in Tata Sky DTH :jump:
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