Technology

Dish TV opens new frontier of attack against MSOs, woos LCOs

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: In an effort to win the battle over MSOs in the digital era, direct-to-home operator Dish TV has held out a unique offer: local cable operators (LCOs) will get to earn per set-top box for each consumer that they help migrate from cable to DTH.


For Dish TV, the move will open up a new frontier of attack. By offering an incentive to the LCOs who have historically earned their livelihood through cable networks, India’s largest DTH operator hopes to add subscribers more rapidly when consumers will have to choose either digital cable or DTH if they want to watch television in the digitised era.


Dish TV‘s subscriber growth slowed from its early year target of 3-3.5 million to 2.455 million in FY‘12. The DTH operator achieved 12.9 million gross and 9.6 million net subscribers till the end of 31 March 2012.


“This will give Dish TV a new distribution chain. It plans to lure LCOs who are already an aggrieved party with the Trai tariff order for DAS (Digital Addressable System) fixing their revenue share with MSOs at 45 per cent for free-to-air (FTA)channels and 35 per cent for pay channels. It will also help WWIL and Dish TV, both promoted by Essel Group, to fight together in a limited sense,” says a media analyst who did not want his name to be revealed.


Earlier this month, Wire and Wireless (India) Ltd had announced a scheme where it was willing to share 25 per cent of its carriage income from DAS markets with LCOs.


Interestingly, the meeting with the LCOs was addressed by Dish TV and later by WWIL.


Several multi-system operators (MSOs) have been saying that the tariff order for DAS laid out by sector regulator Trai is unfair as it does not address the cross-media ownership while fixing a varying rate for content from broadcasters. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has said that broadcasters can charge a maximum of 42 per cent of the analogue rates of their channels under the DAS regime.


Dish TV chief operating officer Salil Kapoor told indiantelevision.com that the offer only applies to the subscriber base that any cable operator has and not to those customers who are approached directly by the direct selling agents of the platform.


Kapoor said when any subscriber approaches his cable operator for installation of a digital STB, the latter can suggest a switch-over to Dish TV. Dish TV will give Rs 400 for each basic STB and Rs 600 for each HD box. These are for new acquisitions and the LCO will get an additional Rs 200 as installation charges on both.


On monthly recharge, the LCOs will earn a commission of Rs 100 per consumer on Super Platinum and Rs 125 for HD.


The local cable operator will also get to earn Rs 150 for every visit to the consumer’s venue for any repairs or solving other problems.


In a presentation held earlier, Dish TV COO (IT) V K Gupta told LCOs that Dish TV will not interact with the customers in any way and, therefore, there was no fear of any customers being taken away. The cable operators will only have to provide the ID number, the SAF number and the VC number on the software developed for the purpose, which can be used from a tablet or even an android phone.


However, the cable operator will have to keep a security deposit of Rs 400 for the standard STB and Rs 1000 for the HD STB with Dish TV.


Kapoor said the standard STB will cost around Rs 740 while the HD STB will cost Rs 1340. Customers will have to pay an advance of only 20 per cent for booking the boxes.


WWIL COO Anil Malhotra said Siticable was presently offering 400 standards and 30 HD TV channels and the number would go up as directed by Trai.


Malhotra told indiantelevision.com that it was wrong to say that DTH players were trying to scuttle the growth of the cable operators.


Kapoor said that Dish TV was leading in the DTH segment with a market share of 41 per cent. He said Dish TV was using three satellites: NSS6, Asiasat 5, and Insat-4B. Dish TV was also leading in more than 15 genres of programming.


He said that around 30 per cent of the cable TV market may move to DTH with digitisation, particularly because of HD channels and homes having more than one connection.

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