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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Astro eyes one million users for HD service



KUALA LUMPUR: Pay-TV operator Astro All Asia Networks plc is targeting one million household subscribers for its newly-launched Astro B.yond, a multi-phased innovative service, starting with the country’s first high-definition (HD) broadcast.

“Our target is 30% of our customer base, which is expected to reach three million by year-end.

“We should be able to secure at least half of the one million in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Astro TV chief executive officer Datuk Rohana Rozhan after the launch of Astro B.yond yesterday.

At 48% penetration of Malaysian TV homes, Astro is currently streaming to 2.875 million homes.


From left: Astro TV chief technology officer Paul Dale, Datuk Rohana Rozhan and chief operating officer Henry Tan at the Astro B.yond launch.

Rohana said about 1.2 million of Astro’s customers were HD-ready, adding that according to an industry report, 59% of all televisions sold in the first half of this year were HD-ready and sales in this segment were growing.

“All data indicate that Astro’s introduction of HD service comes at an opportune time and the market is ready for HD content,” she said.

Rohana said the investment in HD broadcast technology and related services would fall under the company’s capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex).

“Our capex and opex for the financial year ending Jan 31, 2010 (FY10) are RM100mil each while RM200mil and RM150mil have been allocated for capex and opex respectively in FY11,” she said.

She added that the capex and opex would come from the company’s internal fund.

On Astro B.yond, Rohana said it offered customers more innovative services which would be introduced in phases. Customers can sign up for Astro B.yond and access to HD services for an additional RM20 per month for a 12-month period. They will receive a new B.yond box, new smart card, new outdoor dish, HD multimedia interface cable and new remote control.

New set-up installation fee will be waived in exchange for the existing box.

HDTV offers viewers an enhanced entertainment experience with better quality images in true definition details, cinematic surround sound, vibrant colours, wider screen and about five times the detail of standard definition TV.

Rohana said Astro would kick off Astro B.yond with three key genres that were recognised as HD content drivers globally – sports, movies and documentaries.

Astro Supersport HD, HBO HD, National Geographic Channel HD and History HD will start screening on Dec 18, followed by ESPN HD next month.

It plans to launch another five HD channels next year.

Over the next 24 months, Astro B.yond will introduce an intuitive electronic programming guide, digital video recording, video on demand and Internet protocol TV connectivity.

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