By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Samsung Australia has told the launch of Foxtel’s high definition service will generate more consumer demand for HDTVs in 2008, which is shaping up to be the first year where HD goes truly mainstream.

Foxtel yesterday announced it will launch four full time HD channels by mid-year offering sport, documentaries, movies and TV shows in 1080i and 720p high definition, adding to recent HD channel launches by Channel 10 and Channel 7.

“With the major free-to-air TV channels and now Foxtel transmitting in HD, Samsung has already, and will continue to see an increase in consumer demand for HD and full HD TVs,” said Samsung marketing manager – AV, Rod Rodrigues.

“HD content really is a revolutionary viewing experience and there is no other way to realise this without a HD capable TV screen – people are beginning to understand this so naturally, demand has surged.”

2008 may be the year where the old content versus hardware conundrum is resolved.

Broadcasters have historically been slow to add HD content due to low penetration of HD-capable screens, while HD product sales have been hard to justify to consumers due to limited content availability.

Foxtel executive director of content, product development and delivery, Patrick Delaney, said the growing penetration of HD flat panel TVs since 2004 has paved the way for HD pay TV broadcasting.

A Newspoll survey of Foxtel’s customer base commissioned by the pay TV operator revealed that 25 per cent of its subscribers now own an HD compatible television.

Delaney said Foxtel became convinced of the need for high definition channels during last year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where HD flat panel TVs were the dominant theme.

“Now is the perfect time to launch Australia’s most complete HD service,” he said at yesterday’s launch of Foxtel HD+.

Continued price cuts in the flat panel TV market have also made HD more mainstream, he said.

“We are confident [Foxtel HD+] will be successful and will drive consumer demand for HD,” said Delaney.