With most DTH players offering high definition television, the space is set to see some tough competition. Following Sun venturing into HD television, rest of the DTH operators like DishTV, Tata Sky, Reliance Big TV, and Airtel Digital TV have followed suit. Buoyed by the ongoing FIFA World Cup and the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, HDTV is witnessing a growth spurt in India. While media planners are excited about HDTV, they feel spectrum and bandwidth for HD transmission pose the biggest challenge.
According to Manas Mishra, EVP and Country Head, Mudra Connext, “HDTV is now becoming an equaliser as most DTH brands have started offering HDTV. This feature helps consumers get better picture and sound clarity, which is always a welcome thing. For example, in telecom services, when one brand offered life time free incoming calls, everyone else had to follow suit. HDTV is now the latest parity offering from DTH brands.”
On a different note, Anamika Mehta, COO, Lodestar Universal, pointed out, “The biggest challenge for HDTV is the bandwidth. Only a few HD channels are there and the reason why the HD explosion is not happening is because they do not have the spectrum and bandwidth for HD transmission. The experience is fantastic and people are buying HD ready television sets, but the channels are not equipped to broadcast. Also, the price is high and it is a drawback as Indian consumers are price sensitive and it will all boil down to the price value.”
She added, “It excites me because DTH penetration is limited. It is for the upmarket audience and makes sense as upscale brands will reach out to the audience more effectively.”
Kushal Sanghvi, Executive Director, Business Development, Media & Alliances, StratosHear, said , “Clearly, it is great for the customers. Years back they got used to DD, then 15 years back they got used to cable and satellite television, three years back DTH came into the picture, and right now it is HD television. It is a great opportunity from the customer point of view to see and record content and audiences are shifting from the usual television to HD television.”
“It offers a different platform for connecting with brands. I see it as a great opportunity for reaching out to nuclear families. Also, the content they offer engages the youth and the kids. So, it is a good prospect for brands like Cadbury or Nestle, who want to connect with the kids. From the advertisers’ perspective it is great as they can get their specific content,” Sanghvi noted.
Surbhi C Murthy, Deputy General Manager, Allied Media, observed, “I think moving forward on HD was foreseen, but it has happened much earlier. I feel it will give a lot of boost to the advertisers and this as a great opportunity for marketers as well. It means unadulterated attention, which is wonderful and there is no clutter. This is going to be a very important component for the media planners.”
According to T Gangadhar, MD, India, MEC, “HD boom is happening, but how many owners provide HD content is important. There should be more HD content, like this time the FIFA World Cup is being shown in HD and also wildlife channels like Discovery and National Geographic are in HD. Two things will happen: one, the quality of advertising will go up, and two, targeting more affluent groups will become possible because the cream will be watching HD television as the set-top box is available at high prices, and it will take time for HD to get democratised. Gaming in HD is also another opportunity that DTH operators will cash on.”
Pointing out the challenges, Rajiv Gopinath , COO, Madison Media Infinity, said, “There are three entry barriers today: a) HD compatible TV sets, which is still a miniscule percentage, b) HD Boxes - The seeding/ migration to the same will take quite some time. None of the existing boxes are compatible for HD signals. Today, the price is Rs 2,000-plus for a HD box, and c) HD Content is very limited today – ESPN has HD only for FIFA and other special events, and National Geographic and Discovery have it for their shows. Conversion to HD boxes cannot happen with this content alone. 3D would outleap HD within two years or less. From the media planner’s view, the digital CS panel on TAM, due to low sample sizes, cannot get upper SEC data cuts. So, there is a limitation in exploring the viewership of HD channels among core audiences.”