16 December 2015 07:44:58 IST

Digitisation: HD TV flying high

Zee Café, Nickelodeon, Star Movies among latest to enter the fray

From sports to lifestyle to the kids segment, an increasing number of channels are entering the high-definition (HD) space as viewers get more discerning.

HD TV is described as one that provides a resolution substantially higher than that of standard-definition TV. It is transmitted digitally, and provides a better viewing experience.

Players in the segment say that besides offering better viewing technology, network providers are also looking to provide viewers with superior content through their HD products.

Some of the channels that have entered the HD space in the last couple of months include Zee Café, Nickelodeon and Star Movies. According to TRAI data, the number of HD channels has moved up from three in 2010 to about 35 pay channels in 2014

Said Ali Zaidi, Business Head, Zee Café: “Digitisation has benefited a lot of players. Audiences are willing to invest their time and money to watch the best and the latest. Hence, it was good time for us to get into HD from standard definition format.”

According to a FICCI 2015 report, there are 4 million HD subscribers in the country accounting for 10 per cent of DTH subscribers.

“We are preparing ourselves for the next phase of growth,” said Saurabh Dhoot, Executive Chairman of Videocon d2h.

“There are 75 million analogue homes and, in phase III and IV (of digitisation), at least 100 million new connections will come into the market. We are gearing up to tap into the crossover pie.” Videocon d2h has expanded its HD offering to 37 channels, and plans to have as many as 50.

Kids category Viacom18’s Nickelodeon India became the first in the kids category to launch a HD service. Said Nina Elavia Jaipuria, EVP & Business Head, Kids Cluster, Viacom18: “The kid’s television category is growing. We have always stayed ahead of the curve with its (Nickelodeon’s) innovative and engaging initiatives.”

Star India too has launched an exclusive HD channel, STAR Movies Select. It has also rolled out HD services for FX, its English general (non-movie) entertainment channel.

“Digitisation has helped us and we plans to scale up our offerings,” Kevin Vaz, Business Head, English Cluster, Star India, told BusinessLine in an interview. Digitisation is seen to help the entire ecosystem. It substantially weeds out grey market operators. Also, HD channels add to the revenues of DTH players. For HD viewership to get a leg-up, DTH players will have to increase subscription levels, say industry watchers. Additionally, the industry expects 4k (4K resolution, or 4096 x 2160 pixels) TV sales to boost HD services.

According to the FICCI report, in 2014, close to 8 million panel TV sets were sold in India, of which 55 per cent were HD panel TVs.