Doordarshan officially launches DD Sports HD, India’s first free-to-air HD sports channel

As with many other DD HD channels, it is available only on DD Free Dish and Dish TV (NSS6/SES8), but Prasar Bharati has announced that it will be added on other platforms too.

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Doordarshan, the television division of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, has officially launched DD Sports HD, the long-overdue HD version of its DD Sports channel. It went on air on Saturday (2 September) during the Asia Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan, which was aired on DD Sports for DD Free Dish viewers, and the Star Sports network for pay-TV users. At present, DD Sports HD is available only on DD Free Dish, where it replaced DD News HD, and Dish TV on LCN 4011 (only the NSS6/SES8 satellites used for non-South Indian customers, not the ST2 satellite for South Indian subscribers that is shared with d2h), since all DD Free Dish channels are available by default on Dish TV in the LCN 40xx series due to the closeness of their satellites. However, a press release from Prasar Bharati states that DD Sports HD will be added on other DTH platforms in due course — though what will happen in the case of major sporting events remains to be seen, where DD Sports often restricts the live feed to DD Free Dish, and pay-TV viewers are forced to watch the Star, Sony or Sports18 networks.

While DD Sports was temporarily available in a pop-up HD feed for previous Olympic Games, like London in 2012 and Tokyo in 2021 — as well as a short-lived Doordarshan HD channel launched for the Commonwealth Games that took place in Delhi all the way back in 2010 — this marks the permanent launch of DD Sports’ HD version. This is the fourth HD channel overall from Prasar Bharati after the flagship entertainment channel DD National HD, the bilingual Hindi/English news channel DD News HD and the English-language international-focused news channel DD India HD. (Though the parliamentary channel Sansad TV HD is also owned by the government, it is not run by Prasar Bharati per se.)

Most Doordarshan HD channels are confined to DD Free Dish (and Dish TV NSS6/SES8)

Like DD Sports HD, some other HD channels from Doordarshan are also confined to DD Free Dish and Dish TV NSS6/SES8: DD National HD and DD India HD. For some reason, other private DTHs have not considered adding these two channels, which are present on Dish TV NSS6/SES8 on LCNs 698 and 4035, respectively. In fact, LCN 698 has been used in rotation for multiple DD HD channels before: DD News HD (which is the logical choice given that 698 lies in Dish TV’s Hindi news channel LCN block), the pop-up feed of DD Sports HD for the Tokyo Olympics and currently DD National HD. Doordarshan’s HD channel distribution across DTHs has therefore been very poor, which is also the case for some other networks like ETV.

However, DD News HD is available on one private DTH — Tata Play — on LCN 501. It is one of very few Hindi HD news channels, as the only ones from private broadcasters are Aaj Tak HD and Times Now Navbharat HD, and other major players like ABP News, News18 India and TV9 Bharatvarsh do not plan to launch HD versions. (Zee News has planned for an HD feed, but there is no news on its launch so far.) It is all the more a surprise, then, that the parliamentary channel Sansad TV HD — which was launched in September 2021, replacing Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV — has managed to be available on all five pay DTH platforms. However, only Tata Play and Sun Direct have the true HD feed, while the others have an upscaled HD feed.

Free-to-air viewers finally get an HD sports channel

It should be reiterated here that viewers of DD Free Dish and terrestrial DTT are able to enjoy many big sporting events, free of cost, on DD Sports for which pay-TV viewers must subscribe to the Star Sports, Sony Sports or Sports18 channels. When such major events — including several cricket series — are aired, DD Sports on pay-TV operators typically switches to a secondary feed, ‘DD Sports 2.0’, that airs low-profile, less-significant games. A recent exception was the Indian men’s cricket team’s tours of West Indies in 2022 and 2023, which DD Sports aired on all platforms, both pay and free. This is because the rights for West Indies cricket are held by the streaming-only platform FanCode, which ordinarily does not share its events with TV broadcasters, but chose to do so on this occasion.

However, free-to-air viewers have thus far been deprived of a true HD sports channel, and so DD Sports HD will finally be able to fill the gap. Private broadcasters have a large number of HD sports channels: seven from Star (including Star Sports 1 Tamil and Telugu HD, which were recently launched), five from Sony, one from Viacom18 — though new Sports18 channels will almost certainly be launched in due course, since it has acquired the rights for big properties like the BCCI cricket and ISL football rights — and also Eurosport HD from Warner Bros. Discovery. But it is only after all these years that Doordarshan has finally joined the others in having a dedicated HD channel for sports, and one can only hope that its distribution is increased in the coming weeks.

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Avatar of Soham Bhadra
Soham Bhadra

Television Analyst

Soham is a Computer Science graduate from NTU, Singapore, with an active interest in the Indian TV and entertainment industry. He publishes articles and shares his insights primarily on the Indian TV industry and DTH operators. He has a passion for words and reflects that through his articles.

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Most Anticipated Channel from Doordarshan Now Launched.

DD Sports HD.

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Reply 16 Likes

11 years late but arrived. London 2012 Olympics itself should've been in HD.

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