TAM Media Research, along with Press Club, Mumbai, hosted the first session of BLINK – a knowledge series on the inside story of television industry. Various aspects related to DTH and its future in India were discussed by the industry veterans like Sunil Khanna, CEO, Dish TV; L V Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research; N Sampath, MD, PanAmSat; Jagjit Singh Kohli, Consultant, Win Cable & CEO, ETC Networks and Dinyar Contractor, SCaT Media and Consultancy.
Sunil Khanna said that the future is bright for DTH. “Reliable research reports indicate that in future the number of houses getting channel transmissions without set top boxes will decline in absolute terms,” he said.
Khanna explained that factors making the environment conducive for rapid growth of DTH are limited bandwidths of Cable networks, consumer dissatisfaction owing to Broadcaster-MSO conflict, unavailability of niche channels (less profitable) and poor quality of transmission. The DTH industry is expected to grow into a burgeoning Rs 4000-crore turnover industry by 2010. 11 million households will get DTH services by 2010.
The cost for Dish TV is Rs 3990 for basic option and Rs 4990 for all channels. Khanna said, “We are currently doing 2000 activations per day, which is very encouraging.”
However, one impediment to DTH is the system of having one set top box per TV and not per home, making DTH costly for people having two TV sets in a home.
“Though DTH is today seen as an add-on product. After some years the trend will change and cable shall be perceived as an add-on product,” Khanna said.
Apart from DTH, the other technologies that can transmit content through a set top box are Digital cable and IPTV for which Reliance and Tata are strong contenders. IPTV is believed to be a fully interactive system but as of now, no one has ventured into it.
Jagjit Singh Kohli pointed out that in the US, right from the beginning the cable system has been two-way system and hence interactive, unlike in India. “So, they have access to all facilities including Video on Demand, Voice over IP, Pay per view, etc,” Kohli said.
However, Kohli said, “Though being a superior technology, IPTV in India may not emerge as strongly as DTH and Digital cable as its access network challenges are intense. Moreover, DTH has already happened and to the consumers, the mode of distribution doesn’t matter, just the product does.”
L V Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research, said that TAM is working on a new digital meter TVM5 which will offer audio matching and video matching exercises.
Krishnan explained the shortcomings of various reading tools. He said, “While a peoplemeter can only tell who is watching a particular programme, a set top box can indicate what programme is being watched. So, to incorporate ability to track who, what, where and when, the testing for TVM 5 is going on."