Kuala Lumpur – Astro has launched multi-phased innovative service Astro B.yond, starting with their first ever HD broadcast. In HD, Astro has started with three key genres that they describe as ‘recognized as HD content drivers globally’ namely sports, movies and documentaries. ASTRO has started with four HD channels – Astro Supersport HD, HBO HD, National Geographic Channel HD and History HD on 18 December 2009, followed by ESPN HD in January 2010. Sports fans will be able to watch the FIFA World Cup 2010 in HD. Astro plans to roll out more HD channels, including local content, in 2010. Neither Astro nor Discovery Networks Asia Pacific commented on Discovery HD’s current absence from the channel line-up. Astro B.yond offers more innovative services which will be introduced in phases. Along with the first ever HD broadcast in Malaysia, a new and improved Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) designed for better viewer interface will be introduced. In 2010, Astro aims to be the first in the world to offer video recording through an external hard drive. With this service, customers can record their favourite programmes and personalize their TV viewing schedules. Astro B.yond will also introduce Digital Video Recording (DVR), Video on Demand (VOD) and IPTV connectivity in phases over the next 24 months. Customers who wish to experience Astro B.yond and access to the HD services have a choice to sign up at an additional service fee of RM20 (US$5.90) per month and a commitment of 12 months. As part of the new B.yond service, customers will get the new B.yond box, new smart card, new outdoor unit dish, HD Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cable and new remote control. New set-up installation fee will be waived in exchange for the existing box. “Today approximately 1.2 million of our customers are HD-ready. According to an industry report, 59 per cent of all televisions sold in 1H 2009 are already HD-ready with an uptrend in sales. All data indicate that Astro’s introduction of HD service comes at an opportune time and the market is ready for HD content,” said Dato’ Rohana Rozhan, CEO of ASTRO.