The Russian DTH platform NTV-Plus has finally launched its HDTV service, which was scheduled to make its debut in March. Its offer, available via Eutelsat’s W4 satellite, consists of three channels: HD Kino, HD Sport and HD Life. HD Kino and HD Sport are proprietary services, while HD Life is produced by the Russian company Red Media. All HD content is being broadcast using MPEG-4 compression, which means that subscribers to the new offer have to exchange their existing decoders for new ones. NTV-Plus currently has a subscriber base of more than 560,000 in Russia and the Ukraine.
NTV-Plus aims for between 10,000 and 20,000 HD subscribers by the end of this year. It has invested $3.5 million in new production and broadcast equipment such as Harmonic encoders to support the HD service. Subscriber sales are expected to be driven by sports events that in the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are being produced in HD.