Small screen, big battle: DTH players and cable industry fight it out

Small screen, big battle: DTH players and cable industry fight it out

Author | Deepshikha Singh | Friday, Jun 13,2008 7:57 AM

Small screen, big battle: DTH players and cable industry fight it out

‘Wish karo, Dish karo’ pleads SRK, even as Tata Sky claims to make life ‘Jhinga La La’. With DTH operators on a promotion frenzy and reducing subscription rates, where does this leave the neighbourhood cablewallah?

Currently, there are three DTH players Tata Sky, DishTV and Sun Direct, which claims to be a strong player in the South. More are waiting in the wings – Reliance ADAG’s Big TV is set to launch in July; Bharti’s DTH venture is expected to launch soon; ETH Air TV is also breaking through the market by positioning itself differently.

Faced with stiff competition from the DTH players, cable operators are strengthening their networks using proper digital headends, where they have more opportunities of earning revenues from value added services. Cable operators are offering a price structure fixed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Roop Sharma, President, Cable Operators’ Federation of India (COFI), said, “Cable operators offer personalised wider access to digital entertainment. The cable industry is growing at a rate of 18 per cent per annum. The total market size of cable operator is 75 million and cable operators are already using a digital system.”

On the other hand, DTH operators claim that they score over cable in terms of geographical mobility. Moreover, DTH operators claim to deal with their consumers directly.

Tata Sky, a joint venture between the Tata Group and STAR, was launched on August 8, 2006. It offers five different packages, designed to suit the varying needs of the subscribers. Tata Sky recently reduced its subscription rates for the different packages.

Vikram Kaushik, Managing Director & CEO, Tata Sky Ltd, said, “In a record period of just 20 months, we have crossed the two million connection mark, making Tata Sky the fastest growing DTH platform across the globe. To ensure that every TV household in the country has access to digital quality entertainment at an affordable price, we have reduced the price of our current subscription packages. Further, we have introduced new monthly packages to provide our subscribers with the flexibility of subscribing to select premium channels only when it is relevant to them, rather than paying for them through the year.”

Tata Sky offers over 150 TV channels and interactive services in DVD quality picture.

DishTV’s features include Electronic Programme Guide, parental lock, a capacity of up to 400 channels, games, interactive TV, movie on demand, etc. DishTV, which started out by offering 48 channels, now claims to offer over 180 channels, catering to over 3.25 million subscribers across the nation. DishTV claims to have a 60 per cent share of the market.

DishTV has a package offering 150 channels for Rs 300 per month. The great value proposition includes 40 extra channels, over and above the competitive package. Moreover, all sports channels (which have been added as extra add-ons by the competition) are already available on the same pack for DishTV subscribers. This amounts to a saving of up to Rs 45 per month for DishTV subscribers.

Meanwhile, Reliance ADAG’s Big TV claims that it proposes to be the cheapest DTH player in the country. Big TV has managed to get on board all Doordarshan, STAR, Sony, Zee and NDTV channels, along with some other sports, regional news and regional entertainment channels. The company is offering the service at Rs 100 per month with digital facilities and as well as pay-per-view channels.

Sterling Group is commencing its DTH service under the aegis of ETH Air TV in 2009. ETV Air TV would be completely focused on educational content. Apart from this, ETH Air would also be looking into regional markets, focussing on coaching classes with more local or city-specific content.

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