Indian DTH industry to benefit from digitisation, says MPA

MUMBAI: India‘s move to digitise its fragmented and unorganised cable TV sector is going to give a fillip to the seven odd Indian DTH operators, according to Singapore based pay TV research firm Media Partners Asia (MPA).

This is totally contrary to the behavior observed on the ground in the first two phases of digitisation wherein cable TV has held its ground and consumers have not really rushed out to buy DTH boxes even though analogue signals have been switched off.

The MPA report says that revenues for DTH operators are expected to treble to over $5 billion by 2020 as mandatory cable TV digitisation would help the DTH players expand their subscriber base.

It adds that DTH industry revenues will reach $3.9 billion by 2017 and $5.3 billion by 2020 on the back of a growth in subscriber numbers. Estimates are that the India™s DTH players raked in $1.5 billion last year.

MPA says that active DTH subscribers will grow from 32.4 million in 2012 to 63.8 million by 2017 and 76.6 million by 2020. The figure for 2011 was at 28.7 million. The increase in active subscribers in 2012 over 2011 was a mere 3.7 million which is alarming, it says.

The report points out that the content deals between operators and content aggregators such as IndiaCast, MediaPro and TheOneAlliance are likely to be on a cost per subscriber basis rather than a fixed rate as was the practice earlier.

As it is DTH operators have been making efforts to improve their per subscriber economics over the past year by increasing the number of packages and entry level pricing. They have also tried to reduce churn levels by reducing trade margins and the window of free viewing by new subscribers, revealed MPA.

The report warns that marketing and staff expenses will remain high with DTH operators as the rollout of digitisation makes further inroads into the remaining parts of India.

MPA has also given the pecking order of the leading DTH players. Dish TV continues to lead with a market share of 27 per cent in terms of gross additions, while Videocon d2h leads in terms of incremental additions in 2012.

Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV have 19 and 18 per cent market share, respectively. These four players together accounted for 88 per cent of total gross additions last year, says MPA.

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