High Definition Television (HDTV) has to be seen to be believed! It has a resolution roughly five times more than the normal Standard Definition Television (SDTV). HDTV in India is still at a very nascent stage, but it will surely be the most popular viewing experience in the country going forward. There are some key factors for the success of HD programming in India which are as follows:
Adoption of HD Display Device: Adoption of HDTV is the key to an enhanced viewing experience. Switching from a regular TV to HDTV is like a quantum jump for an Indian, comparable to the jump from black and white to colour TVs. The penetration of High Definition TV (LCD/ LED) is comparatively very low at present in India, but is certainly poised to change in the near future.
Input Quality: Input quality is a crucial ingredient for a viewer to get a WOW experience. Input quality can be divided into original HD shoot and upgraded HD. Few programmers have already started original HD shooting, which provides the best viewing experience. The limited availability of HD cameras and high cost of production are the constraints for input quality, but the demand for original HD programming will only explode in the next couple of years.
Choice of Content: HD experience is more pronounced in outdoor programmes. Hence, sports and movies will be the first to grab the attention of consumers due to higher quality of the viewing experience as compared to static/ indoor programmes like news.
Affordability: Indians are a true cost conscious lot; hence the price of the display device has to be proportional to the overall viewing experience. The cost of input devices like DTH and HD players has come down comparatively in the last few years, and will continue to come down going forward.
Bandwidth Availability: HD requires five times the current bandwidth of an SD channel. Limited availability of bandwidth, together with cost of bandwidth versus revenue potential at this juncture, restricts the number of HD channels being beamed by most of the players in the market.
Accessibility & Usage Simplicity: The key to success is the easy accessibility of HD content – discs, Internet or DTH broadcast. As of now, only DTH players have cracked the issue of easy accessibility with easy availability of set-top boxes as well as convenient access to rich content. HD players and discs have limited availability and are expected to grow as HD replaces the current DVD offerings.
Peripheral Experiences: In order to augment HD viewing, it is critical that the overall experience is enhanced, not just the video quality. Currently, stereo sound format is the widest used and needs to be upgraded to 5.1 and above format for an audio experience matching the elevated video experience.
That would make it a sheer experience for the viewer. DTH players are gearing up to deliver higher standards of sound outputs.
With more customer awareness and understanding of the overall experience, HD programming is bound to become immensely popular amongst viewers. It certainly has a huge growth potential and will require good investments for rapid success going forward.
(Sanjay Behl is Chief Executive Officer, Reliance Digital TV and Group Head, Brand and Marketing, Reliance Communications Ltd.)