How much would you pay for Digital TV?

, posted: 11-Apr-2007 08:31

Freeview LogoMay 2 is the launch date for DVB-S or free-to-air (if that's the right term) digital broadcasts in New Zealand. Although Kordia is running terrestrial trials as well in Auckland - sshh, don't tell anone, Kordia likes to be secretive about these things - it'll be satellite only until February next year.

The release I saw mentions "high resolution" a great deal, but no details as to what that means exactly. Is it 720p or 1080p/i? I'd like to know how much of the content will be hi-res and how much will be in standard definition. What size dishes are needed?

Either way, I heard this morning that the set-top boxes willl cost between $249 and $299, with installation and satellite dishes on top. That's less than the $700 media speculated they'd cost, but still a good chunk of money. You may need a new PVR too, as Freeview says that there are none presently certified for its service.

What do you get for it though? Well, it looks like it'll be just the standard FTA fare, in digital drag: TV One, TV2, TV3, C4 and Maori TV, plus Radio NZ's National and Concert stations. Is that going to be enough to entice viewers, even if the picture is clearer and reception problems that apparently dog a quarter of analogue TV recipients a thing of the past.

Freeview seems harbour doubts here, according to its Media FAQ:
What are your sales projections?
We have realistic expectations, in fact they are modest. We see take-up starting off slowly and then tracking upwards over time as we add new channels and services and increase the range of consumer devises [sic] that include Freeview tuners. For example the continuing popularity of flat screen TV’s will help drive take-up as people look to maximise the picture quality of these large, high resolution screens. Anyone who has poor analogue reception will benefit immediately.

IPTV is coming online with HD content, so I think Freeview will have an uphill struggle, improved image and audio quality notwithstanding. If Freeview had been launched five years ago, it would've ruled the roost. That wasn't to happen though, as we had to "see how it goes" as per usual... meanwhile, many European countries are switching off the analogue broadcast signals this year. New Zealand is looking at doing so in the next six to ten years. Kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Update Check out this Geekzone Forums thread with more details. Looks like it'll be 16:9 widescreen content, including the Rugby World Cup...


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