HD channels on rise in Asia, Africa, Mideast

Survey sees 340 high-def channels by 2013

SINGAPORE -- Major pay TV operators in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa expect to offer more than 340 high-definition television channels by 2013, according to a report released Wednesday.

The number of HD channels is forecast to reach 107 by the middle of 2009, 226 by '11 and 341 by '13, according to the Euroconsult study, "A Survey on High Definition Television in Asia."

Only 12% of the 25 pay TV platforms surveyed offer a total of 32 HD channels today. By the end of the year, 70% of the platforms expect to be offering HD content.

Over the next three to five years, HD bouquets will expand from between three and five channels to an average of 15 channels.

HD content penetration across the surveyed regions is forecast to be 10% of the subscriber base in five years as the sticker price for HD-ready televisions drop and sales rise.

Euroconsult analyst Stephane Chenard said that newer pay TV platforms are driving growth.

"Longer-existing and better-established platforms are moving slowly in this direction, but nearly all see it as also necessary in time," said Chenard, who conducted the study on commission from Malaysian-owned satellite operator Measat Satellite Systems.

Pay TV operators surveyed said that the biggest obstacle to HD progress at the moment is the lack of local and international content.