In less than a month’s time, world class cricketers will be participating in the ICC World Cup 2011 in your neighbourhood. Watching the game at the stadium itself will obviously have its own charm, but for the ones who miss out on the games from the stands have the next best option of catching the players in ‘high definition’ on their digital idiot boxes.
ESPN STAR Sports, official broadcasters of the ICC World Cup in India, are just one of the various channel providers to have the HD route. The recently launched Hollywood channel by the Times group - MOVIES Now, Ten Cricket from TAJ TV, and Discovery Channel are just few of the channels that provide users with the option of a HD feed.
1. HD is a relatively new concept in the Indian market having only hit the markets in early 2010. Ajay Trigunayat, channel head, MOVIES Now, explains the concept. "High Definition TV presents a more intense and better viewing experience with a Wide Aspect Ratio of 16:9, better suited for our eyes with its higher horizontal instead of vertical span. With superior 5.1 dolby surround sound, it gives viewers pin sharp, cinema style sound, resulting in a cinematic experience unlike Standard Definition (SD) channels. The channel uses interlaced scanning and show each picture with 1080 vertical lines and 1920 pixels horizontally, thus providing 5 times better picture quality versus the standard definition channels."
As for cricket viewers, Rathindra Basu, senior, director for corporate communications and business developments, ESPN STAR Sports, explains how viewing a cricket match on HD is different compared to the SD feeds. “Due to enhanced clarity, the cricket ball can be followed much better and slo-mos are just spectacular. The players’ emotions are distinctly visible which makes the duel between bat and ball a more personal experience for the viewer. The audio quality is much better with surround sound which enhances the immersive experience not available in SD.
2. The ICC Cricket World Cup will not be the first high profile sporting event to be telecast Live via HD feeds in India. Doordarshan acquired the format to telecast the 2010 Commonwealth Games and ESPN STAR Sports had previously used the format to telecast the FIFA World Cup. SET Max had also used the platform for their coverage of the IPL last year and will be planning to do the same during the fourth season later this year.
Discussing the role of sports channels in the HD world, Basu said, “Across the world, sports channels have led the way in increasing the penetration of new technologies. As the leading sports broadcaster, we started it in India with a special HD feed of FIFA World Cup 2010. The response from FIFA World Cup was fantastic. Almost all the leading DTH players took the special HD feed and aggressively marketed it to the customers. Now, we believe that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 will play a critical role in ensuring that the penetration of HD increases at a fast pace.”
3. Rahul Johri, senior vice president and general manager, India, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, thinks that the future of television is going to be high definition viewing. Talking about Discovery’s history and how it sees a way forward, he said, "In the US we launched our first HD channel in 2001.Today all the channels under the network are in high definition there. This is an example of a developed market. The trend is new and is just starting in our country but I’m confident slowly and surely there will be a point in time where all the channels will only be available in HD in India too.
4. Trigunayat agrees with Johri and also believes that HD is the future of television channels. He says HD is the next big thing in the country. He says,"HD is the next big thing in India and the service providers are now ready with the infrastructure to power the consumer mindspace. Numerous viewers have already upgraded to Plasma/LCD TV/LED TV with HDMI input with a HD enabled Set Top Box (STB) of the Digital Cable Headend or DTH. There are nearly four to five million of these HD sets in country already. Subscribers have already taken the plunge.’’With a tinge of a pun, we say, the future is brighter, future is HD.
What it means for…
- Better clarity
- These services could reduce the cost of watching SD feeds.
- Introduction of more HD channels.
- More high end television sets could be launched
- TVCs look better on Hi def, with ‘features’ being clearer