Technology

Dish TV slips into net loss, adds 0.83 mn subs in Q3

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MUMBAI: Dish TV, India‘s largest direct-to-home (DTH) operator, has again slipped into quarterly net loss and performed below market expectations despite showing remarkable growth in subscriber numbers.

The company posted a net loss of Rs 448.8 million in the fiscal-third quarter, compared to a net profit of Rs 550.90 million in the trailing quarter, as content and other costs surged.

Dish TV‘s operating profit for the three-month period ended 31 December declined 11.5 per cent to Rs 1.38 billion compared to Rs 1.5 billion in the previous quarter. Ebidta margin for the quarter stood at 24.7 per cent.

"The content cost rose partly due to Media Pro which distributes the Star, Zee and Turner group of channels. The selling and distribution expenses also went up," said a media analyst.

Dish TV‘s expenses jumped to Rs 5.9 billion from Rs 5.3 billion as programming/content and other costs rose to Rs 1.63 billion from Rs 1.42 billion in the preceding quarter. Cost of goods and services grew 11.2 per cent to Rs 2.8 billion from Rs 2.5 billion in the preceding quarter, amounting to 51 per cent of gross revenue. Advertising and promotional expenditure rose 6.8 per cent to Rs 237 million from Rs 222 million. Selling and distribution expenses rose 26.6 per cent to Rs 661 million from Rs 522 million.

Operating revenue for the quarter stood at Rs 5.58 billion, recording a growth of 4.5 cent as compared to Rs 5.3 billion in the preceding quarter. Total income for the quarter increased to Rs 5.7 billion from Rs 5.4 billion in the previous quarter.

Subscription revenues for the quarter were Rs 4.9 billion, up from Rs 4.72 billion .

The company’s other income jumped 118.7 per cent to Rs 175 million from Rs 80 million in the previous quarter.

Subscriber additions

Dish TV added 829,000 new subscribers during the third quarter achieving a total of 14.7 million gross and 10.5 million net subscribers at the end of the period. In the previous quarter, the company had added 477,000 subscribers.

"Dish is looking at adding 2.5 million subscribers this fiscal. It continues to have a strong subscriber growth and has added 1.8 million new customers so far in this fiscal," the analyst said.

Subscriber acquisition cost falls

Subscriber Acquisition Cost (SAC) during the quarter declined to Rs 2,201 compared to Rs 2,273 in the preceding quarter. "While the subscriber growth was much higher than the previous quarter, the marketing expense did not go up as much. This led to a fall in SAC," the analyst added.

Dish TV MD Jawahar Goel said, “While the distribution industry remained on tenterhooks preparing for digitization, the third quarter saw the much debated compulsory switch off of analog television signals take place in key metro markets. Although lack of execution in Chennai and Kolkata was a dampener, festival demand coupled with mandatory conversion in Delhi and Mumbai brought the DTH industry back to the 1 million plus monthly run-rate. DTH garnered around 35 per cent share of incremental additions post the sunset date.”

“In line with our expectation, we witnessed significant subscriber uptake around the sunset date of 31st October. Dish TV achieved the largest share of 28 per cent amongst DTH platforms in the digitization territories. ‘Dish+’, India’s first standard definition recorder, played its part in differentiating and attracting consumer interest in a crowded market,” he added.

ARPU improves

The company‘s Average Revenue Per User (Arpu) grew marginally by a rupee to Rs 160 due to a price hike in the third quarter, up from Rs 159 in the previous quarter.

Goel said, “A larger base did create pressure on the average revenue per user which, primarily supported by price hike in the second quarter, increased marginally to Rs 160. In the third quarter, apart from the usual additional spends typically experienced due to the festive season, additionally this year the company’s investments to capitalize on the digitization opportunity are also reflected in higher costs during the quarter. A seasonally higher marketing expense was as per budget. Content cost for the year is expected to be within the guided range of 12 per cent increase over the previous fiscal.”

Dish TV recently launched India’s first Standard Definition Recorder, ‘Dish+’, with unlimited recording facility. ‘Dish+’ comes equipped with a USB slot and is positioned at a competitive price compared to non recorder ready boxes. ‘Dish+’ was initially launched in the 42 cities covered under Phase I and Phase II of digitization and is now available across India as a value for money differentiator over other boxes in the market.

In a first within the television distribution industry, Dish TV has launched recharge option through Interbank Mobile Payment Service (IMPS) through which the subscriber can recharge his Dish TV account securely and conveniently through an instant, interbank electronic fund transfer service that can be initiated only through mobile phones.

Considering the deep penetration of cell phones in the country, money transfer through them is likely to emerge as a popular mode of transacting for daily services in the days ahead, the company said.

Shares of Dish TV fell 4.96 per cent to close Tuesday at 73.7 on the BSE.

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