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DRTV moving to HD

As high-definition TVs become more affordable and more HD channels and programs become available, the direct response TV industry is getting ready for the switch from broadcast to the clearer and better-sounding high definition TV technology.

Consumer trends indicate that TV customers are now purchasing HD TVs especially when they need an upgrade or furnish a new room.

“The more sophisticated DRTV marketers are already shooting their stuff in HD, but I think you’ll probably see more of it,” said Peter Koeppel, president and founder of Koeppel Direct (www.koeppeldirect.com), a direct response media-buying agency in Dallas. “Those who are more savvy who feel there would be a benefit from it will be converting more of their production to HD.”

Currently there are 15 to 20 HD networks, according to Cheryl Green, media director at Advanced Results Marketing (www.armdr.com), a direct response marketing company in Marlboro, MA. Most national cable networks are in the process of going HD and a few networks such as AMC plan to launch this summer.

“Since the quality of creative and programs will appear inferior if not produced in HD, ARM is developing a plan to eventually shoot and produce all our creative in HD,” Ms. Green said. “ARM is evolving ahead of the industry and at present we’ve already produced creative in HD for many clients.”

HD TV allows DRTV marketers to better showcase their products, especially those in the health, fitness or beauty categories.

“A household kitchen product where you can show the food is going to look more appetizing,” Mr. Koeppel said. “If you have a hair-restoration product the before-and-afters are going to be more clear.

“HD will utilize the medium better,” he said, “because people will be better able to see what the product can do.”

But not every DRTV company will use HD TV.

“There’s a segment of the DRTV market that uses maybe lower production quality because they can’t afford to do a spot that’s going to be really expensive,” Mr. Koeppel said. “A business-opportunity type of show may have production quality that isn’t up to par with some others, when you compare it to Bowflex types of production.”

The shift to HD means client logs at ARM will be transmitted on two feeds, HD and analog, and creative will air on both channels of the same network.

“Increased costs would be incurred for tape-dubbing and conversion,” Ms. Green said. “Media-buying costs would increase depending on the network if programming is different on an HD channel as it is with Discovery.”

Ms. Green said her company was moving forward with a strategy to make the shift in accordance with the current date. The Federal Communications Commission ordered that all broadcasts be digital no later than Feb. 17, 2009.

“The original FCC date was 2004 which became 2006, then 2008 and now 2009,” Ms. Green said. “We wouldn’t be surprised if 2009 becomes 2012.”

More information is available at the official U.S. government HDTV and DTV site at www.dtv.gov.

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