Riding high on its USP of being the only free-to-air DTH service, Prasar Bharti has been able to make the most of its recent promotional campaign to trigger a subscriber rush. Prasar Bharti bosses claim to have a DTH subscriber base of close to three million in just five months since the launch of DD Direct Plus service in December last. This is way ahead of its only operational competitor, Zee's DishTV, which claims to have 0.5 million subscribers.
The Star-Tata joint venture Space TV and Sun Direct TV, which recently got their DTH approvals, are yet to be operational.
Prasar Bharti's campaign in April has been quite useful in pushing up the penetration of DD Direct Plus. Prasar Bharti went in for major on-air advertising on Doordarshan and AIR during the India-Pakistan cricket series.
Simultaneously, a massive outdoor campaign was launched in 124 cities across India. The three- week outdoor campaign handled directly by Prasar Bharti's media division with the help of media vendors like Selvel, Lakshaya Media, Rose, Pioneer Publicity and Graphis Ads made use of hoardings, bus shelters, glow signs, public utilities and unipoles.
"Our focus was on virgin territories of B, C and D class cities where either the cable penetration is low or the number of channels offered by cable operators is limited," a senior Prasar Bharti official told exchange4media.
Prasar Bharti officials claim that the strategic campaign generated a lot of dealer enquiries, thereby helping penetrate newer virgin areas. Prior to the outdoor campaign, DD Direct Plus, according to these sources, had a subscriber base of 2.2 million, which has now shot up to 2.8 million. "It is a considerable gain considering that according to industry sources DTH users are poised to grow to 7 million by 2010," said a Prasar Bharti official.
Meanwhile, Prasar Bharti is gearing up to launch its next round of DTH campaign in July-August when Doordarshan will launch 17 more channels, taking the total number of channels on its DTH platform to 50. According to officials, more than 40 private free-to-air channels including Sahara One, India TV, Aastha, Sanskar, Channel News Asia have approached Doordarshan for joining its DTH platform.