New Era Entertainment, part of Zee Network promoted by Subhash Chandra is planning to invest over Rs 100 crore in the next one year in its Dish TV direct-to-home (DTH) venture.
The company, which started to offer DTH service under Dish TV brand in October 2003, has 1,50,000 subscribers across the country. “Under Dish TV, currently we offer 104 channels. By end of the year 2005, we would be offering a total of about 250 channels,” said Ashish Kaul, vice-president - corporate brand development group, Essel Corporate Group.
In the DTH business, service is highly customised and “subscribers ask for very niche channels of their interest,” he said. For instance, in the sports category, the provider needs to provide channels specific to aqua sports and golf.
“Similarly, in the movie category, we need to offer classic movies, latest movies or action movies, etc. So for each category, we are offering different channels,” he added.
The company is expecting to reach 20 million subscribers by the end of next year. Unlike other products, the company did not target major cities and metros to launch Dish TV.
Instead, based on an internal survey that showed that there were a lot of villages in India, where cable TV had not still penetrated, the company tapped the rural opportunity first. “We started Dish TV in rural areas and today 90 per cent of our subscribers are from rural India,” Mr Kaul said.
In sparsely populated regions, cable television operators are reluctant to offer services as the costs are too high, he said.
The company is now turning attention to major cities and metros for Dish TV. “We are planning to increase our marketing activity towards this shortly,” added Mr Kaul.
So far, New Era is the only operator present in the DTH segment. Star TV and the Tatas are jointly planning to launch Space TV - a DTH service - by the end of this year.
There is enough room for both, Mr Kaul said. “Television penetration itself is too low in India. Less than five crore households have cable TV in India.
There is a huge potential for us to address the rest of the market,” he added.
In India, Dish TV needs an initial investment of Rs 7,000. Zee offers basic package of 38 channels for Rs 100, excluding taxes every month while the complete bouquet cost is Rs 200 every month.