Sony Pal, Colors Rishtey set to join DD Free Dish from Dec

Prasar Bharati recently invited applications for allotment of DD Free Dish MPEG-2 slots on a pro-rata basis

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Nov 23, 2022 8:31 AM  | 3 min read
DD Free Dish

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) and Viacom18-owned Hindi GECs - Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey - are set to return to DD Free Dish from December 1. In March, the big four broadcasters had withdrawn their Hindi GECs offering rerun content from the platform.

The big broadcasters were under pressure from direct-to-home (DTH) platforms to remove their channels due to the subscriber churn from pay platforms to DD Free Dish. As was reported by e4m in August, the big 4 broadcasters have been mulling a return to DD Free Dish.

Recently, Prasar Bharati invited applications for allotment of DD Free Dish MPEG-2 slots on a pro-rata basis for the period 01.12.2022 to 31.03.2023 through the 63rd online e-auction that was held on 18.11.2022.

"Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey will be available on DD Free Dish platform from 1.12.2022," DD Free Dish posted on its official Twitter handle.

According to industry sources, the return of Sony Pal and Colors Rishtey is not surprising since the pay broadcasters have not benefited much from the pull-out. While the subscription revenue has remained stagnant, the broadcasters have also suffered heavily due to a decline in ad revenue.

Both TV18 and Zee Entertainment have stated that their ad revenue growth has been hit hard due to the pull-out from DD Free Dish.

In its Q2 results presentation, TV18 stated that the ad revenue grew in high single digits on a YoY basis adjusting for the impact of the withdrawal of Colors Rishtey from DD FreeDish and despite a challenging environment.

Meanwhile, Zee Entertainment's domestic ad revenue declined in Q2 due to the FTA withdrawal (Zee Anmol) and a challenging macroeconomic environment. In its Q2 earnings call, Zee Entertainment MD & CEO Punit Goenka stated that pulling out Hindi GECs from DD Free Dish has helped the industry in arresting the decline of the pay base of the DTH platforms.

"Absolutely, the churn has been reduced and the subscriber base is now stable at the 53+ million mark. In fact, in September, it was 53.8 million so it's a healthy sign. We were hoping it will increase but that has not translated yet and the industry is going to wait and watch before we take a decision on what way we want to go," he stated.

In an earlier earnings call, Goenka stated that the pay-TV growth bounced back due to the pullout of Hindi GECs from DD Free Dish and the price cut initiated by the DTH players for entry-level packs.

"Firstly, on the FTA side, we have taken a collective call as an industry. It's not about just one player or two players that we will support in favour of the subscription revenue growth that we want to see. As the removal has been just about 4 months, still early to talk about the impact it would have had. In normal circumstances we had anticipated that at the end of 1 year we could have recouped at least 40% odd from the subscription uplift that the DTH operators were estimating and the balance part of that would have to be recouped from the advertising piece," he had said.

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