Analog TV still matters: paving the way for hybrid televisionsOver 140 million analog-only TVs, VCRs, DVD-Rs shipped last year in Asia, South America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Hybrid (analog + digital) reception continues to experience unprecedented levels of growth, as many regions will not finalize their transition to digital for several years. In addition, there is a surge in consumer purchases of flat-panel LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) TVs to replace older CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) televisions, in part due to attractive government programs designed to encourage spending. Even in established markets like Western Europe and the U.S., where the analog off-air shutoff is well underway or complete, televisions must continue to simultaneously support analog and digital cable reception.
1. To minimize the impact on viewers and facilitate a smooth transition, some governments have mandated the co-existence of analog and DTV signals well beyond 2011 (Table 1; see References below).
Table 1. Announced Analog Off-Air Shut Off (ASO) Dates in major regions
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Still, in other countries, there is no mandated date to shut off analog broadcasts, or a plan to upgrade or retrofit existing analog equipment to support DTV. In such regions, the DTV migration will span years, and thus drive strong demand for hybrid broadcasts. For example, China alone has approximately 350 million television household subscribers, but only 20 percent of these households will be digital by 2010. Likewise, most of India's 100 million TV households employ analog-only receivers. As such, demand for analog remains robust in these markets with industry experts forecasting sales growth of analog-only TVs.
While television markets in Western Europe and North America lead the digital transition, the vast majority of the world continues to rely on analog reception. Analog broadcasts will dominate for the foreseeable future in emerging markets like China, India, Russia, Brazil, the Middle East and South-East Asia. With many regions at the early stages of the digital transition, analog + digital off-air and cable reception is a must, paving the way for explosive growth in global hybrid televisions.
To respond to these regional dynamics, TV manufacturers are building platforms capable of receiving analog and hybrid broadcasts. At the same time, consumers are demanding ultrathin televisions offering sharper picture quality, more vivid color contrast, and richer brightness—all features that enrich the television viewing experience. In order to meet market requirements, TV manufacturers seek global chip solutions that eliminate the need for regional versions (called SKUs, stock-keeping units), offer an ultra-low profile for thin TVs, and reduce the component count for cost savings.
For example, Fresco Microchip offers single-chip solutions that deliver significantly lower system cost and superior television performance for global analog and hybrid markets. Fresco's solutions have been broadly adopted by six of the top nine TV tuner manufacturers in the world, including LG Innotek, Panasonic Electronic Devices, and NuTune, enabling shortened time to market, reduced bill of materials costs and a streamlined supply chain.
In consumer electronics, it's all about cost and performance, and the ultimate goal for TV manufacturers is to deliver television platforms at lower system costs without compromising on performance. In the end, consumers are the beneficiaries of the incredible innovation underway and now it's time to watch the global transition from analog to digital continue to unfold.
About the author
Melissa Chee is Director of Marketing at Fresco Microchip, (Ontario, Canada), where she leads global strategic, product and corporate marketing initiatives. Prior to joining Fresco Microchip in 2006, Melissa worked at Nortel, a recognized leader in telecommunications, where she held management roles in global product and program management; strategic and product marketing; and systems engineering. Melissa holds an MBA from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor's degree in computer engineering from McGill University. You can reach Melissa Chee at firstname.lastname@example.org.