DTH mops up record 1.7 mn subs in a month

MUMBAI: India‘s direct-to-home (DTH) companies have just seen their best month, mopping up 1.7 million subscribers in November, and outpacing cable digitisation by miles during the fiscal.

Dish TV has added 500,000 subscribers in November, its peak ever in a month, as it crosses the nine million mark. India‘s largest DTH service provider has mobilised 2.26 million subscribers during this fiscal and could exceed its target of adding three million in the 12-month period running through March 2011.
Says Dish TV chief executive officer RC Venkateish, "It looks like we will be performing beyond our targets. We may exceed our guidance of adding three million subscribers in FY‘11."

The DTH sector seems to be on a massive subscriber acquisition mode. It has pocketed 8.5 million subscribers till November-end, matching its last full-fiscal customer pile up in just eight months.

"We could be looking at over 12 million DTH subscriber acquisitions in FY‘11. The total DTH subscriber base could touch 32.5 million by March-end," says Venkateish. 
In the first two quarters, the DTH sector added 5.4 million subscribers. The next two straight months have been a real highway ride, with October accounting for 1.4 million subscribers. Dish TV collected 6.5 million subscribers in the first quarter and 7.5 in the second while 350,000 came in October.

"It has been a great year for DTH. But the long term sustainability of the sector will depend on correcting the fundamental flaws that confront all of us - higher taxation and content cost. We must have a level playing field," says Airtel Digital TV director and CEO Ajai Puri.

The ARPUs (average revenue per user) continue to be dismally low for the sector.

"Our ARPUs have slightly inched up," says Venkateish. For the fiscal second-quarter, Dish TV‘s ARPU was at Rs 139.

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