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Sun Direct launches High Definition services in India

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | April 09, 2009
The DTH provider, which has an active subscriber base of 3.1 million, is the first in the country to introduce this service

Sun Direct, the DTH (Direct to Home) service that was launched in the end of December 2007, is the first player to launch high definition (HD) services in India. HD TV is considered to be one of the world's best digital broadcast platforms, which offers higher resolutions than the traditional television system.

Tony D'Silva, chief operating officer, Sun Direct says that the company has always believed in offering new technology to its consumers. A case in point is that Sun Direct was the first DTH player to offer its consumers MPEG 4 technology, which provides enhanced audio and sound quality. He says, "We believe that in the constantly changing viewership dynamics and taste, to keep the viewer continuously happy and engaged, we need to offer them new options. HD is another first from the Sun Direct stable."

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Along with various low-priced packages, Sun Direct currently offers five international channels for free, along with their base pack. These are: Fox TV (FX), Fox Crime, Baby TV, Warner Brothers and Real. The channels will remain free up to March 31, 2010.

D'Silva claims that Sun Direct has 3.1 million active users and aims to add another three million by 2010. It currently has a market share of 30 per cent and wants to increase this to 40-45 per cent by the end of 2010. The company plans to spend around Rs 150 crore on marketing activities this year to help them achieve their target.

HD services can only be available on HD TV sets, which are manufactured by companies such as Samsung and LG. D'Silva says that an estimated 1.5 million HD TV sets are sold in the Indian market as of now; Sun Direct wants to tap 20 per cent of those consumers by the year end.

Sun Direct's HD set top box will be available to consumers for Rs 10,000. Consumers, who are already using the existing Sun Direct set top box, can exchange it for the HD counterpart. Since the availability of HD content is limited, Sun Direct has launched two movie services in this format. The first one is the Tamil and Telugu movie services, where consumers can order HD movies for a fee. A similar Hindi movie service will also be introduced soon.

The Commonwealth Games, to be held in 2010, will be a major event, which will be telecast in HD.

D'Silva says, "We want to operate on a national level, but our focus will always be on the regional markets."

Sun Direct wants to target consumers in big cities and towns. Since it is a niche segment, instead of a multimedia campaign, the company will employ on-ground activation, consumer touch points in stores and direct mailers to promote the service.