Television

Digital platforms to lead future growth

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MUMBAI: The direct-to-home (DTH) market is set for an explosion. Revenues from DTH operations is expected to touch Rs 40 billion in 2010, up from Rs 3.8 billion in 2006.

Speaking today at the first of a series of interactions between the television industry and media, Dish TV CEO Sunil Khanna said the surge in revenues was based on a projected subscriber base of 11 million, as compared to two million in 2006.

The average revenue per user (ARPU) is expected go up from Rs 200 in 2006 to Rs 300 in 2010. The cable TV penetration would increase from 53 million to 77 million households during this period, Khanna said.

He was addressing the first of the Blink knowledge series on "DTH and Distribution,"organised by Tam Media Research and Press Club, Mumbai. The other two sessions will be on news channels and regulation of the TV industry, spread over the next two Fridays.

The entry cost was a major hindrance to the growth of DTH subscribers, Khanna said. But after Dish TV slashed hardware and software prices by half, the offtake has speeded up with 2,000 activations being added dup every ay.

"We have touched close to 250, 000 subscribers. Earlier we were just adding up 300 subscribers a day," he said.

With popular channels from the Star and Sony bouquet not on Dish TV platform, the growth of the DTH platform has been affected. "Some of the popular channels are not available on our platform. The challenge for the regulator is to get the regulations implemented," Khanna said. DTH operators are now required to give an undertaking that they would not deprive their content to other competing platforms at the time of being issued a licence, he added.

Dish TV will launch pay-per-view and near video-on-demand (NVoD) by June-end, he said. On the content side, the plan is to offer 150 channels by the end of the year. Currently, Dish TV offers 117 channels to its subscribers.

Speaking on the opportunities thrown up by digital TV distribution, Win Cable and ETC Networks CEO Jagjit Singh Kohli said the market was on the verge of witnessing revolutionary growth. DTH and digital cable TV have huge potential in India, even though there would be competition from IPTV players like Reliance and Tatas. State-owned telecom operators BSNL and MTNL were also gearing up for the challenge.

"The traffic of channels is more than the capacity on the analogue cable systems. So digital is the only way forward," he said.

But how prepared are the rating measurement agencies? TAM announced that it was technologically ready to meet the new broadcast environment emerging in India and had the capability to measure TV audiences across diverse technology platforms like DTH and broadband. "Irrespective of any delivery platform, TV viewership can be measured through our digital peoplemeters. Our parent company has developed the new digital peoplemeters called TVM 5," said TAM CEO LV Krishnan.

The session was also addressed by PanAmSat managing director N Sampath. Satellite & Cable TV editor Dinyar Contractor moderated the session.

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