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Is DTH losing steam?

DTH service provider, Tata Sky, has launched a new service, Tata Sky World, wherein it would be offering over 650 hours of international content (movies and dramas) to its subscribers at Rs 74.

twitter-logo Ajita Shashidhar   New Delhi     Last Updated: March 28, 2018  | 22:12 IST
Is DTH losing steam?

DTH service provider, Tata Sky, has launched a new service, Tata Sky World, wherein it would be offering over 650 hours of international content (movies and dramas) to its subscribers at Rs 74. This service is obviously meant for the metro-bred Indians as well as the upper middle class in tier 2-3 cities who crave for edgy content. However, the obvious question that comes to one's mind is whether there would be any takers for a service such as Tata Sky World, at a time when the Indian consumer is spoilt with choice with myriad OTT players such as Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon Prime and many more offering high quality, edgy content.

Arun Unni, Chief Content Officer, Tata Sky, says that they don't see OTT as competition. "In fact, they are like studios which have great content and we would rather work with them." Unni is referring to the Netflix tie-up with its parent, Sky TV, in the matured markets where Netflix is available on the Sky set-top-boxes. Though Unni doesn't hint at any such alliances in India, industry experts confirm that most of the Indian DTH companies are putting together an elaborate digital strategy wherein they are in partnership talks with OTT companies.

So are DTH companies in a state of flux? The recent TRAI numbers show a marginal growth of 2.22 per cent active DTH subscribers in the last quarter, while on a year on year basis the subscriber base increased by just 7.85 per cent  as opposed to the usual growth rate of around 15 per cent. The market shares of most of the DTH companies have remained stagnant. Dish TV, post its acquisition of Videocon D2H is the biggest with a 43 per cent market share, while Tata Sky and Airtel have a 24 per cent and 21 per cent share respectively.

Most of the DTH companies today are profitable, but growth is pretty much stagnant, points out an industry observer.
 
In fact, the country's largest broadcaster, Star India, which has a bouquet of over 50 channels has been in loggerheads with Dish TV and Airtel and has even asked the Airtel subscribers to switch to another DTH operator to view the Star bouquet. While the two camps have been accusing each other of indulging in arm twisting tactics, Airtel has said that Star has forced them to buy their channels at an astronomically high price. But can DTH players afford not to have the Star channels in their bouquet of offerings? Do the broadcasters have an upper hand?

The DTH operators are surely stressed. On one side they have the high-handed broadcasters to deal with, and also the OTT players who are surely eating into the pie by offering high quality content to the average Indian, who is increasingly wanting to consume content on his/her personal device.

However, chord-cutting is definitely a while away in India, nevertheless the DTH companies definitely need to spruce up their digital presence significantly for a long haul in the Indian market.

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