HDTV in Taiwan

By | May 30, 2010

The market is really beginning to hot up these days with at least three providers competing for HD market share. It’s difficult to predict who in the end will be the winner, but it’s going to be interesting.

The primary player is the local cable TV companies. For a long time, the local cable companies played also rans in the world of TV entertainment, at least compared to other countries. They were skimping on their bandwidth for cable TV networks, slapped up illegal ads everywhere, and charged upto NT$600 for 90 channels. For foreigners living in Taiwan, you could watch CNN, ESPN in Chinese, HBO and Cinemax, Star Movies (if you’re lucky), perhaps the BBC world news channel, Discovery Channel, NatGeo, and a few others depending on where you lived.

But recently, the local cable companies began offering Set Top boxes for HDTV with a number of channels offering HDTV. Some sports, some movies, History Channel, plus a lot more in SD. Limited choice in HD, for sure. Only nine channels. But some Natgeo channels, and lots of Discovery channels: all in SD.

Then MOD TV started offering HD channels, too. Mod TV is CHT’s version of IPTV, and until recently has been restricted to showing its own material, and non-competing channels. In other words, not much. With the recent developments in the marketplace, and broad adoption of their devices (as packages with I-net or telephone) they have a dominant place in the market … so far.

However, their range of HD channels is limited, too. I can only count about  NGC in HD, NG WILD HD, NGA HD, plus Eye’s two HD channels. Though they add other SD channels, too, that may be interesting, the line up is broadly similar to the Kbro’s options.

The new entrant is DishHDAsia which launched a few months ago with nothing much on show. However, in recent days, they are now boasting a total of 35 HD channels. However, I’m not sure that all of them are really HD. Again there is some overlap with both KBro and MODTV, but much less than you’d think. Movies are the same as Kbro’s offering, but NatGeo channels are simiilar to MODTV. There are a few channels that you can’t get elsewhere on it: Fox HD (advertised on StarWorld), StarWorld HD, Fox News, … and one or two channels that I’ve never seen before.

So, if you have money to spend, want to watch National Geographic and Discovery (as you should!), get MODTV and DISHHD, also keep your regular cable TV package. If you like history, you may need to upgrade the cable package. Seriously, that and buying a Satellite Dish, may be the best way to get the biggest range of TV in Taiwan.

What would it cost you? Cable TV: NT500 and NT$300 for Digital; MOD costs about NT$1000 pm for its services; and DishHD would be NT$1200. Throw in your own satellite dish and a subscription to CBTV, you’ll certainly find something to watch.

And the reason I didn’t get either DishHD or CBTV: I’m a bit worried about attaching a satellite dish to my building wall, as I don’t see how on earth we’d get any reception. So I guess that’s why we’ve chosen regular Cable plus MODTV because it’s easy to install.