Television

Sony targets paid subscriber connectivity of 6 million by year-end

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"We are on track to achieve our aim of becoming the number one network as far as subscription revenues are concerned."

This is what Shantonu Aditya, SETs executive VP-distribution, asserted when asked to the comment on the cable industry's response to the new subscriber regime of Rs 40 per month for the six-channel Sony bouquet (including Discovery and Animal Planet) which became effective 1 April. "Our all-India declared connectivity is currently at 4.5 million and we expect to reach 6 million paid subs by the end of the year," Aditya said. Prior to the price increase Sony was at 3.5 million paid subs, Aditya said.

"Except for the problems we had with Hathway (the Rajan Raheja promoted MSO in which Star has a stake), overall it has been pretty smooth sailing as regards getting acceptance for the new rates we have instituted effective 1 April," Aditya said.

The dispute with Hathway had resulted in Sony switching off its feed to the MSO resulting in the bouquet going off the air in large pockets in Mumbai for over a week. Sony switched on its feed late last Saturday after an agreement was thrashed out. While Aditya was not forthcoming as to the terms of the deal that had been signed with Hathway, industry sources say a declared connectivity of 30,000 is what has been agreed to. This is valid till June and post-June there will be a scaling up of the subscriber numbers.

Almost all the major MSOs across the country have signed on, Aditya said, pointing out this was achieved without the protracted attrition that had often been witnessed by other bouquets following rate hikes. Aditya attributed a large part of this to the "six quality channels on the bouquet whose value is derived independent of each other."

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