Ready to ride the HD wave

Alice Zhang/In-Stat
22 Jun 2007

Asia-Pacific high-definition television (HDTV) set shipments have increased quickly, with a 79.5% growth rate from 2005 to 2006, for a total of 7.04 million sets shipped.

At the same time, HDTV content and programming services have captured the imagination of a small, but growing, TV audience who rave about the clear and crisp picture quality. Beyond that, it's also excited the TV broadcasters and multi-channel service providers with the potential to boost incremental monthly revenues.

At the end of 2006, there were 9.9 million TV households in the Asia-Pacific region that were receiving and watching HDTV programming. However, the availability of HDTV content remains limited in this region.

Besides Japan and Australia, which are mainly broadcasting self-developed content, there is a growing amount of content being broadcast in China, Korea and Singapore that originates from international content developers.

With increasing Western culture influence in Asia, the importance of international content will offset the shortage of regionally developed high-definition content.

International co-production is becoming a popular trend, providing better economies of scale. Besides the well-established sports channels, such as ESPN International, content developers like Warner Brothers, the Discovery Channel and National Geographic are proactively targeting the Asia-Pacific market with a strong belief in local demand for HD content.

In-Stat expects international HD content will spread all over the region in the next two years, starting from leading countries like Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore, to the huge subscription base of China.

With imported international HD content, HDTV service providers have attracted a significant number of subscribers. However, because of the language and cultural diversity in the region, each of the current country markets has unique tastes and viewing behavior, which means locally produced content will be vital to achieve mass adoption of HDTV services.

NHK in Japan is leading in local content production, with a majority of its broadcast content now in HD. NHK has produced a large volume of HD content for the local market and is also selling to other regional markets. The company is expected to focus on enhancing its news programs and disaster reporting, as well as high-quality programs that appeal to a wide audience, such as specials and epic dramas. Educational content will also play a key role in the future, targeting children and the youth audience.

Government support
Most regional governments are also set to welcome the arrival of HDTV. The Australian government has supported the development of HDTV nationwide by integrating HDTV programming into the initial digital terrestrial television (DTT) service plan that was started in 2002. The five national broadcasters - ABC, Nine, SBS, Seven and Ten - are required to provide a minimum 20 hours of HD programs per week.

With both the state broadcaster CCTV and Shanghai Media Group having received licenses to broadcast in HD in China, both vendors have started offering HD services. Hong Kong is expected to launch DTT HDTV broadcasting this year. PCCW will also introduce its IP-based HDTV service in the second half.

In Korea at least 10 hours of HD content are required to be broadcast on a weekly basis during the first year for each digital service provider.

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