The MBC Group has launched a high-definition (HD) broadcasting system covering its bouquet of channels with Technosat, the partner company supplying the set-up boxes.
The free-to-air channels, packaged with Technosat devices for Dh550 including installation, will be available from tomorrow, a senior official told Gulf News.
The high-definition broadcasting offers highest accuracy and clarity, four times more than the current offering in standard definition (SD).
High-definition television (HD-TV) has video resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems. It features one or two million pixels per frame, and that is roughly five times than SD.
Early HD-TV broadcasting used analogue techniques, but now comes digital using video compression.
"Many people already own HD-TVs, but very few of them understand that there is really no use in buying an HD-TV if there is no HD content to watch," Mohammad Shakir, business development manager of Technosat told Gulf News.
There are few HD channels broadcasting in the region compared to the West, where the trend is picking up fast and many are now available in HD.
Currently, most channels on Nilesat are still broadcast in MPEG-2 SD format, and as MBC moves to MPEG-4 HD, most of the channels will follow.
"In effect, this is the first time when the Middle East's largest broadcaster MBC Group has decided to launch their HD channels for free through Technosat's HD decoder being available exclusively on the ICHD platform the first HD platform in the region for their viewers," Shakir said.
MBC has an estimated 109 million viewers for its SD channels. Once end-users see the fast-moving pictures in HD, the shift will start, he said.
Shakir said that with this launch the move for HD content and broadcasting will intensify. "By 2012 we expect viewers voluntarily opting for the HD channels over SD because normally you don't get HD channels for free elsewhere in the world," he said.
"ICHD is the first platform that bridges the gap between pay TV and free TV. It brings HD content to enjoy the viewing and complete the experience of HD TV across the region. "MBC's existing SD channels will continuously educate their 100 million viewers through TV informationals making their HD TV experience complete."
Shakir said the Technosat HD decoder also enables viewers to watch approximately 5,000 free-to-air channels along with HD channels.
IMS Research forecasts that 255 million TV households worldwide will be watching HD-TV by the end of 2013, including video households viewing only
pre-recorded non-broadcast programmes.
It expects the Blu-ray disc market to experience strong growth during the next five years, particularly as Blu-ray disc drives in new PCs become more common, to reach a forecast $46 billion in revenues in 2013.
Technosat, a Dubai-based supplier of decoders, has an annual turnover of around Dh250 million.
The number of households watching MBC on SD television is approximately 20 million and the company expects to replace SD-TV with HD in five to six years. "We expect a 10 to 15 per cent conversion rate to the HD platform across the 22 countries in Mena in the first two years, and then a steady 25 per cent conversion in the balance three to four years, thereby achieving a 100 per cent conversion in five to six years," Shakir said.
Mazen Hayek, MBC Group's director of public relations and commercial, stressed the importance of this move to millions of MBC viewers, noting that it also reflected the group's commitment to provide the latest technology with the best television content.
"HD-TV will gain momentum with this move. I think HD has a better future than 3D-TV," Hayek added.
From / Gulf News