According to market estimates, the monthly number of subscribers added is continuously going up and is now touching five lakh. This makes the growth on a of 60-70 lakh subscriber base in the range of 90 per cent. If we take the annual growth rate, it may be smaller than this number, however, it is evident from these figures that the DTH market is rapidly expanding in India.
In all likelihood, the Indian DTH growth story seems to follow the mobile telephony market. Shortening of adoption rates for new technologies (for example, mobile, Internet, etc.), low initial investment, enhanced user experience, intense competition and high decibel promotions promises to make the transition from cable to DTH at a much faster rate. The current global financial meltdown may lower the growth rates for next 6-12 month, but may not alter the growth path substantially.
Understanding customers and tracking changes in such a dynamic market with a robust research and sample size for market prioritisation, penetration and awareness is a big challenge. That's where the Indian Readership Survey (IRS), conducted jointly by MRUC and Hansa Research, comes to the rescue of the industry. This survey has successfully provided media buying and selling currency to the market continuously for the past 11 years. Continuous nature of the survey ensures that it is free from seasonal peaks and troughs.
On November 4, IRS 2008 R2 findings were released. These findings are based on fieldwork conducted between July 2007 and June 2008. The findings are projected to January 1, 2008 date. As a result, IRS estimate may show a slight underestimation compared to current market figures, particularly after June, during which period competition intensified.
According to IRS 2008 R2, the total number of TV owning households is 103.3 million. Of these, 64 per cent households have Cable & Satellite, whereas 36 per cent households use terrestrial antenna or use TV to view movies (small base, predominantly in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) on DVDs. At 6.5 million, DTH households account for 10 per cent of C&S households. Thus, there is plenty of opportunity for DTH to grow for next few years. With rising income levels and standard of living, C&S is growing at a rate of 19 per cent per annum, thus, providing additional base for DTH operators. The 0.7 million CAS households in metros is the ready market for DTH service providers.
Rural rich rural households were the first to grab the DTH opportunity when it was made available. Fed up with high cabling costs and erratic service by local cable operators, or complete absence of C&S service, rural households latched on to the DTH service. No doubt rural still accounts for 5.28 million households.
The adjacent chart provides DTH subscriber base for all major DTH service providers. DishTV is clearly the market leader with 3.1 million, followed by DD Direct, Tata Sky and Sun Direct. Sun Direct was fielded only in Southern states. The 'Others' includes new/ other players and households which are not sure of the service provider.
Zone-wise analysis of DTH households shows that West zone is leading with 2.24 million households, followed closely by North at 2.16 million. South accounts for 1.16 million households and East, 0.91 million.
Profile of DTH subscribers by urban and rural suggests that apart from Tata Sky, most other players have more or less equal urban-rural split, with urban accounting for 15-19 per cent. Tata Sky is much more urban with 37 per cent subscribers from urban.
IRS enables detailed profiling of DTH subscribers by service providers, demographics, product ownership and usage along with their media consumption. This helps prioritise markets and communicate with the right set of prospects. Future articles will elaborate on these aspects.
Sensing the need for frequent market updates in a rapidly growing market, IRS has created a separate DTH package which is released every six months. This should go a long way in helping the DTH service providers in market planning.