MUMBAI: Cable TV subscribers in Odisha will soon get to watch Hindi soaps in high definition (HD) provided they have an Ortel cable connection. The last mile owner (LMO) with 520,000 subscribers, Ortel Communications, has received its first batch of HD set top boxes (STBs) that will be deployed to digital TV households soon.
1000 STBs from Skyworth are currently docked out of the 25000 boxes ordered. Priced at Rs 2000 to Rs 2500 per STB, the service will be launched within one month. “We are preparing a pack of 15 HD channels comprising popular channels of all major broadcasters for launch date. This will include channels like Star Plus, Star Sports, Sony, NGC, Movies Now, Colors etc,” says Ortel Communications CEO BP Rath.
The headend capacity currently only allows the LMO to have 15 HD channels; however it plans to add more channels soon. “We intend to increase our capacity to around 250 SD and 50 HD channels in the next one year or so,” informs Rath. The LMO currently offers 200 SD channels. The pricing will be competitive with the DTH platforms. Though the final pricing for the HD channel pack hasn’t been finalised as yet, it is expected to be below Rs 100 per month with an initial three month free trial period.
While Rath doesn’t expect good revenues from the service this year, he is optimistic of it being considerable next year. “We expect revenues from HD to kick in from Q3 of this fiscal, though not significantly. However, we expect to do Rs 2 crore to Rs 3 crore revenue next year,” adds Rath.
It is pertinent to note that Odia channels don’t have HD services but Rath is optimistic that in the future there would be Odia HD channels as well. “Viewing of English and Hindi content in our markets is very sizeable and that will drive the HD services. In any case, the channel list will be similar to DTH operators and we will not be in any disadvantageous position,” claims Rath.
Ortel currently has about 75,000 digital subscribers which it is looking at increasing to about 250,000 by the year end.