Only 26 percent of the top 89 TV operators worldwide, as defined by a recent IMS Research study, are currently offering high-definition TV (HDTV) services to their subscribers. This, the research firm says, would seem to imply that HDTV is still not a reality for most subscribers.
However, looking on a regional basis, IMS Research finds that within the Americas, 16 out of 23 top operators, or 70 percent, are already providing HDTV to some portion of their subscribers.
While HDTV has been around in some form since 1970, it has only been since 2002 that it has truly begun to take off in the Americas, IMS Research reports. In the Asia Pacific region, HDTV has been primarily contained to Japan and Australia until recently. In Europe, early attempts to launch HDTV did not bare fruit; however, IMS Research says that a new service was launched in Europe in 2004. Called HD1, and formerly known as Euro 1080, is available by satellite and has been picked up by some cable operators.
According to the research firm, many elements are coming together to facilitate the growth of HDTV adoption. For example, new compression standards, such as MPEG-4 (H.264) and Windows Media 9, have more than twice the compression efficiency of MPEG-2. This means that operators may be able to retain many of their existing channels while providing the bandwidth for HD channels.
“Many of the barriers to HDTV adoption are now being eliminated,” states Jack Mayo, market analyst at IMS Research. “As HD content increases in availability, equipment costs drop, and compression standards improve, we are likely to see more operators implement HDTV.”
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