Saturday, 10 July 2010

To go for HD set-top box or not?

Watch out before you go for that high definition (HD) DTH set-top box. Even as DTH companies gear up for relaying content in high definition, the content backing it is very little.

Only two channels -- Discovery and National Geographic -- are available in HD. While Essel Group channels -- Zee TV and Zee Cinema -- are available only with Dish TV, ESPN has only two properties, the ongoing Fifa World Cup and Wimbledon, currently available for HD broadcast, and that too with select DTH operators.
Leading players such as Dish TV, Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct are marketing HD set-top boxes.

“There is no demand for HD content from broadcasters,” says Nikhil Alva, MD of Miditech, the country’s third-largest production house that supplies content to many major TV channels.

“Also, the number of high-definition television sets in the country is miniscule. Transmitting HD is significantly more expensive for channels, so it is not a priority for them. Also our analog cable networks that supply content to the majority of C&S homes is already too clogged with channels to deliver HD content. For now, HD is a niche phenomenon and largely a marketing gimmick,” Alva adds.

Even DTH players admit that sale of HD set-top boxes will take some time. “The numbers on HD set-top boxes will be low,” says Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV.