One Alliance hikes subscription rates to Rs 55

MUMBAI: Erring on the side of abundant caution? Maybe, maybe not. Sony Entertainment's One Alliance Network, which has just added premium movie channel HBO to its roster, today announced a hike in its monthly subscription rate package from Rs 40 to Rs 55, effective 1 January 2003.

Taking into consideration the fact that HBO is now part of the bouquet, and that the network has the biggest television event of the year - the cricket World Cup - on its platform, the increase is far lower than what many in the cable trade were fearing.

Looking at the current package price of Rs 40, and adding in the effective current cost of HBO at about Rs 8, the network price works out to an increase of Rs 7.

Distribution executives that spoke to earlier had said that with HBO on board and the cricket thrown in, Rs 65 looked a likely pricing structure. One that the cable trade could probably live with. However, one-Delhi-based cable operator had told two days ago that he was expecting the new package price to be Rs 55 so not everyone in the trade is surprised by the pricing.

Speaking to, SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta said the cable industry had been fearing the worst and had reacted very positively to the new price structure. Dasgupta asserted that by keeping the effective hike quantum so low he expected the declared base of the One Alliance to shoot up dramatically in the lead-up to the World Cup and maintain those levels even after the end of the tournament.

Timed strategically, the increase comes a few months before Max, the cricket and movies channel, is poised to air the World Cup. The network has also promised a fresh programming line up in the New Year for channels as diverse as AXN and MAX, apart from the World Cup. 

The One Alliance, a joint venture distribution company of Sony Entertainment Television and Discovery Communications India, floated in March this year, has in its kitty Sony, Max, AXN, CNBC, Discovery, Animal Planet and the newly acquired HBO.

Dasgupta still needs a news channel as (with CNBC India headed to Zee-Turner even more so), as well as a music channel and kids channel to complete his bouquet. For the second part the two Viacom channels MTV and Nickelodeon look the most attractive bets currently. However, Nick is with the Zee-Turner and with over 18 months of the present contract still left to run, it may eventually turn out that MTV joins Sony while the kids channel remains where it is.

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