Airtel Digital TV sub base expands, even as ARPUs dip


MUMBAI: Q1 2018 ended 30 June 2017 has been a bit of a mixed bag for the Sunil Mittal headed Bharati Airtel’s DTH biz – Airtel Digital TV. Its subscriber base expanded by nine per cent to 13.3 million as compared to 12.14 million in Q1 FY 2017 ended 30 June 2016. Net customer additions were hence around 499,000. The average revenue for the quarter however dropped to Rs 228 as compared to Rs 233 in the corresponding quarter last year.

Revenues from the DTH segment grew at a slower pace of seven per cent in Q1 FY 2018 to touch Rs 897.4 crore (Rs 836.9 crore in Q1 FY 2017). EBIDTA in the latest quarter grew 10 per cent over the previous corresponding period to Rs 330 crore, even as its capex went up 31 per cent to Rs 266.1 crore (Rs 203 crore). Its operating free cash flow was down 35 per cent from Rs 98.1 crore to Rs 63.9 crore.

Bharati Airtel’s cumulative investment to date in Airtel Digital TV has spurted to Rs 7225.3 crore as compared to Rs 6693.6 crore in the previous corresponding quarter.

Cumulatively, the DTH service is contributing five per cent revenues to the telecom behemoth’s top line even as investments in the segment are at three per cent.

Says an industry observer: “Airtel Digital TV is among the three to four players who are offering a world class service at very reasonable prices to consumers. The quality of customers who may have signed on in the last quarter could be coming in from Phase III and phase IV areas of cable TV digitization (where customers have a lower propensity to pay for the premium services) or it could be that the competition is forcing it to cut its prices. But overall it has done reasonably well in a difficult year. “

Airtel Digital TV offers both standard and high definition (HD) digital TV services with 3D capabilities and Dolby surround sound. It offers a total of 590 channels including 67 HD channels, five international channels and four interactive services.

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