Tata Sky earmarks Rs 1.5 billion for marketing of service

MUMBAI: Tata Sky, an 80:20 direct-to-home (DTH) joint venture between the Tata's and Star Group, is moving ahead step by step towards a launch, the date for which is still being closely guarded by the company.

While most of the money is now riding on an August-September commercial kick-off, the latest on the Tata Sky front is that it has earmarked approximately Rs 1.5 billion for marketing the DTH service across all platforms, traditional and non-traditional. From pilot MDU (multi-dwelling unit) projects in some cities of India to educating an average Indian about the advantages of a DTH service supported by the Tatas and Star, the game plan covers the full gamut.

Tata Sky sources reveal that a major part of the Rs 1.5 billion marketing budget is likely to be spent during the festival season in India, starting late September and lasting till Christmas-New Year, when consumers have a tendency to splurge on goodies.

Meanwhile, apart from Zee Turner family of channels, most other major TV channels are almost sure of finding a berth on the Tata Sky platform from day one of launch. Apart from the news channels, the likes of Times Now and Disney are already part of the test signals, people in the know say.

It needs noting however, that except for ESPN Star Sports, no other broadcaster (and that includes the Star Network channels) have signed commercial agreements wth Tata Sky as yet.

ESPN Star Sports, a joint venture between Disney and News Corp in Asia managing the two sports channels, have also to take a call on whether to bring in a new interactive sports channel, or confine the interactive aspects to the two existing channels. "We are still weighing all options," a Singapore-based source in ESS said.

Zee channels' appearance on Tata Sky, meanwhile, would depend on how soon (or how late) Star comes to an agreement with Dish TV, now that Discovery-Sony One Alliance has come aboard country's first DTH platform.

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