In my professional experience expensive consultancy reports normally state the bleedin' obvious, making you wonder why you didn't write it yourself in the first place. But ocassionally they put a twist on it, and to some degree this is one of those.
First big finding is that despite the considerable sales of HD ready TVs, the vast majority appear to be happy to stick with standard definition broadcasts or are ignorant of the difference between SD and HD. Hardly innovative thinking. It also states that the lack of HD programming is a major problem facing adoption in Europe - again, nothing new there.
But it then suggests that pay TV only has a limited opportunity to cash in on the HD market before the free-to-air technologies evolve to deliver HD and it becomes the norm. Very true - Sky has seen this already and has already signed up half a million (and rising) premium rate customers, whilst Virgin Media is doing its best to drive its own top-paying customers to Sky HD too.
Europe's Pay TV operators are using HD to increase loyalty and reduce churn rates and to increase revenues per subscriber (ARPU). Some operators have also been able to charge subscribers a premium for HD content; others have offered it for a small fee or none at all for subscribers with an HD box. Screen Digest believes this approach will become the most popular as cable and satellite operators drop fees to encourage more people to upgrade to HD.
In a maturing pay TV market HDTV can also drive customer acquisitions as consumers who upgrade to an HD display might also wish to upgrade to a pay TV package to fully enjoy their new purchase. In this sense, pay TV operators have a window of opportunity in which to drive subscriber growth before HD broadcasts become available on free-to-air platforms.So how long will HD remain a premium pay-for product? The report suggest 2015, but I think 2012 will prove the tipping point in the UK as that's when we'll see the analogue signal finally off, MPeg4 on Freeview and Freesat fully loaded. Whither Virgin Media? Who knows - the silence is deafening, they seem incapable (either through funding or strategic will) to cash in at the moment and have opted for the "who needs high definition?" head in the sand approach.
Anyone who doesn't believe the customer doesn't appreciate better quality should ask themselves when did they last watch a VHS tape or listen to a cassette - once you've experienced better, it's difficult to accept lower standards.
Have a read of the press release and let me know what you think. (And thanks to Dazza for supplying the source for this post - cheers mate!)