When broadcaster ESPN-STAR Sports announced in December 2010 that the upcoming cricket world cup would have high-definition (HD) telecast feed, television manufacturers could barely hide their excitement.
HDTV took off during the third season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), as some matches were broadcast in that format.
HDTV sales are likely to rise this year, thanks to the Cricket World Cup, says LG Electronics National Sales Head, Amitabh Tiwari.
"People want to watch the World Cup, and what better way to do it than in high definition," he says. LG, the largest consumer durables player in the country, is targeting 30-35 per cent annual sales of flat-panel TVs in this period alone.
The situation is no different with other TV manufacturers like Samsung, Sony and Panasonic.
Samsung executives say that the first six months of 2011 will account for close to 45 per cent of the company's annual flat panel TV sales, owing to the Cricket World Cup and IPL-4.
Most flat panel TV sets in India are already HDTV-compliant, though the picture quality is not very sharp.
However, the number of flat panel TVs that are fully high-definition compliant are fewer. "It is this market that will grow," says LG's Tiwari. Sony India Managing Director, Masaru Tamagawa seconds the opinion.
"The World Cup will be a big contributor to sales of fully-high definition TV sets," he says.
Currently, in the 3.2-million units flat panel TV market in India, the proportion of HDTV-ready and full-HDTV sets is about 80: 20.
However, after the World Cup, most TV manufacturers are expecting this to change to about 70:30.
"If the fourth season of the IPL is also factored in, the proportion is likely to be 60:40," Tiwari says.
The market for flat panel TVs is growing at a steady rate of about 70 per cent every year. This, coupled with the interest in fully high-definition models, is likely to raise the overall market for flat panels to 5.4 million units this year, says Panasonic Head (marketing), Manish Sharma.
Companies are predictably working overtime to cash in on the boom. LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Videocon have all lined up new models of both HDTV-ready and full-HDTV sets for the world cup this year.
Sony, which sells the popular Bravia brand of flat screens, has just unveiled a 20-model range of full-HDTV sets, promoted by cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Sony has also fired the first salvo by bringing down the prices of both its HDTV-ready and full-HDTV sets by 12 per cent. Panasonic too, slashed the prices of its 32-inch flat panel TVs by 3 per cent.
According to sources, Panasonic's 32-inch flat panel TVs today start at about Rs 23,900 - lower than those from the Sony and LG stables, which begin at about Rs 26,400 and Rs 25,000, respectively.