How Will You Watch Your Sports in 2020?

NSR believes that the medium of choice will most likely be in High Definition

Much has been said about 3D Television and its impact on the way sports programming will be provided by the Pay-TV industry. Forecasts for the uptake of 3DTV sets, channels and thereby satellite transponders are flooded with “hockey-stick” curves full of hope. However, this does not change the fact that more than 30% of the UK’s DTH subscribers are watching their favorite football teams on High Definition channels as of today.

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Subscriber growth is actually driven by an ever-increasing demand for HD services, be it for Viasat in the Nordic region or Orbit-Showtime in the Middle East. As we get closer to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, every DTH operator providing HD will see double digit growth in their subscriber numbers, and paving the way will be sports channels. But HD no longer makes headlines...its 3D everyone is talking about.

The United States, once again, proved to be a pioneer in the introduction of 3D equipment and services, but other countries are not far behind. Sky UK, Sky Deutschland and Foxtel (each a leader in their own right) have been quick to follow in bringing 3D to their many sports fans. Although South America may be a bit slow getting off the block, there is no doubt that DTH operators will introduce the service to their elite clientele before the first goal is scored in Brazil.

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Does this mean you will watch the Russian and Qatar FIFA matches with your 3D glasses on?

..only if you loosen those purse strings in time. The introduction of 3D television so far has been more an issue of “pride” for those operators targeting premium subscribers in their respective markets. If you are an avid (high income) sports fan in Western Europe, Russia or Australia, you wouldn’t think too much about having the latest Sony, LG or Samsung 3DTV set in your living room, with a few extra 3D glasses to show off to your friends when the game is on. DTH operators are counting on these subscribers to step up to the plate despite the fact that 2010 has been a slow starter for 3D adoption.

However, the top bosses at News Corp remain skeptical about the widespread adoption of 3D, and NSR subscribes to this view even with the 2012 London Olympics around the corner. Keeping these challenges in mind, what will be the medium of choice for premium sports viewership in the next decade?

NSR believes that the medium of choice will most likely be in High Definition

A large part of the DTH world is yet to realize the full potential of High Definition services. The technology has only just been introduced in Africa, South America and South Asia. An example is the nearly 25 million subscribers in India alone, less than a million of whom watch their Cricket in HD. Although HD services have become old news for the Western world, they will grow at a staggering 25% CAGR over the next 10 years. In absolute terms DTH operators will add over 93 million HD subscribers between now and 2019. This translates into 13% of DTH subscribers that opt for HD services today growing to well over 51% by 2019.

For the bottom line this implies that HD services will bring in close to $95 Billion in revenues (a staggering 81% of total DTH subscription revenues) by 2019. It is easy to see that while most reporters may choose to write about 3D more often than HD, DTH operators cannot afford to forget that the former is a fad (at least for now) while the latter is fodder.

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