HD bows via Commonwealth Games

Host relies on tradition rather than Bollywood

NEW DELHI -- India hosted a spectacular opening ceremony in New Delhi Sunday evening for the 19th Commonwealth Games, with statecaster Doordarshan ushering in high-definition television broadcasting here.

The dazzling ceremony showcased India's rich cultural heritage, with the game's theme song performed by Oscar and Grammy-winning music producer A R Rahman. In a departure of sorts from most high profile events here, the ceremony was low on Bollywood talent, with a stronger emphasis on traditional dance and music artists who performed in a high-tech setting under a giant helium balloon featuring video and laser projection.

Doordarshan's coverage was expected to be viewed by about 60% of India's estimated 130 million TV homes. The event is the first in India to be produced and telecast in HDTV, thus introducing widescreen (16:9 ratio) picture and and cinema-like sound quality here via Doordarshan's newly launched DD HD channel and to an estimated 60,000 HD-enabled subscribers of private Direct To Home players.

Doordarshan – which is the official rights holder for the games that conclude on October 14 – is also telecasting the event in standard definition as well via its existing DD Sports channel. The statecaster's production budget is estimated at about $81 million.

HDTV is still at its nascent stage here with select international channels reaching only an estimated 60,000 HD subscribers of the five private DTH service providers. But HDTV is expected to grow strongly with industry estimates indicating that by 2014, over 10% of the projected 50 million DTH subscriber base will be in HD. In addition, India is expected to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest DTH market in the next six months, hitting over 32 million subscribers within the first quarter of 2011.
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