UK Asian TV channels are planning HD versions of their SD services

With the UK Asian TV market getting more competitive than ever before, it seems ZEE Network and Sony Pictures Networks are planning to up the ante by launching HD services of its channels.

BizAsiaLive.com understands that both broadcasters are considering HD versions of their flagship entertainment and movie channels – ZEE TV, ZEE Cinema, Sony Entertainment Television and Sony MAX. With the channels joining the Sky Original Pack this summer, it will put both broadcasters in direct competition with their two biggest rivals Star Plus and Colors – both of whom run HD services.

Incidentally, ZEE TV and Sony TV were the first Asian players on satellite back in the early 90s. With rising competition and viewing habits changing, it now seems that the big broadcasters have no choice but to provide high quality output to lure viewers.

ZEE Network UK already runs &TV HD – but its ZEE branded channels are only just available in Standard Definition. Sony Pictures Networks has no HD presence in the UK. The broadcaster is already working on a number of new SD channels for the UK, with Sony Pal or Sony Mix in contention to join the Sky platform by June.

An industry spokesperson, who prefers to remain anonymous said, “The real test between Asian channels will come this summer when they’re in the same pack. They’ll be some big losers and lots of egos dented. HD content will help broadcasters but ultimately if their content doesn’t connect with British audiences then they’re on to a losing spree. I’m surprised that it has taken so long for Asian broadcasters to launch HD services when territories like US, Middle East and India are well ahead.”

As well as viewership for HD channels, the other big challenge broadcasters will face is the amount a HD service costs to run. Running both HD and SD services will ramp up costs with HD channels costing in the region of £1m plus. With the advertising pie getting smaller and the costs rising, this summer will ignite the biggest war in history between Asian TV broadcasters.

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