Astro gears up for HD launch
Rose Major

Malaysia’s Astro TV will launch its high-definition offering on Friday, December 11, spending some RM200 million (US$59 million) over the coming year on the new service.

When Astro originally announced the launch back in September, CEO Rohana Rozhan said that the package would “have significant impact on our current year margins as we expense cost ahead of revenues.” The operator has 2.875 million residential subscribers.

There are no details available on the HDTV line-up – presumably to provide a consumer bang when the launch is publicised domestically on Friday. But Rohana has previously told media that sport is likely to be one of the key HD products, as well as movies and the usual round of international broadcasters such as National Geographic.

Also planned is a new PVR product, set for launch in the first half of 2010, which will include “push” content. A previous PVR, Astro Max, has been discontinued.

Astro All Asia Networks, Astro TV’s parent, announced revenues for the three months to the end of October up 13% to RM864 million. Group EBITDA rose 48% to RM259 million from the previous quarter. Net profit increased to RM133 million from RM28 million a quarter ago.

Price increases, the introduction of new packages, cost management and net subscriber growth of 94,000 saw Astro TV’s revenue up 12% during the quarter to RM785 million.