DTH

DTH subscriber growth on upswing in first quarter?

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BENGALURU: Is the DTH subscriber growth in the first quarter of fiscal 2017 (Q1-18, quarter ended 30 June 2017, current quarter) on an upswing?  Of the six private players in the Indian DTH ecosystem, three are publically listed and their numbers are available in the public domain. Two players, Airtel DTH and Dish TV, have indicated a quarter-on-quarter growth in number of subscriber additions. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has yet to release subscription numbers for Q1-18.

Airtel has indicated subscriber additions of 0.499 million for Q1-18 as compared to 0.228 million for the previous quarter (quarter ended 31 March 2017, Q4-17, previous quarter). Dish TV reported adding 0.186 million subscribers as compared to an estimated 0.165 million additions for the previous quarter.

The third player – Videocon d2h reported adding 0.13 million subscribers in Q1-18 as compared to the slightly higher 0.14 million for Q4-17. It may be noted that subscriber numbers are generally rounded off by the players in their reports, in some case to an extent of 10,000. Also, the sum of the net subscriber additions per quarter may not be equal to the overall subscribers reported as added in a fiscal by the companies because of subscriber churn and rounding off.

Please refer to the figure below:

public://F1_18.jpg

As reported by us earlier, despite the sunset date for DAS IV having passed, the DTH industry had not been able to leverage the opportunity that it presented. Financial results of  Airtel Digital TV (Airtel DTH), Dish TV, and Videocon DTH show poor subscriber adds in the quarter ended 31 March 2017 (fourth quarter, Q4-17). As a matter of fact, subscriber additions in Q4-17 was the lowest that the three Indian major operators reported in a quarter for the financial year ended 31 March 2017 (FY-17). The combined subscribers for all the three players grew 8.33 percent to 41.23 million in FY-17 from 38.06 million in FY-16. In FY-16, the three players had added about 65 percent more subscribers in absolute numbers at 4.93 million as compared to the 3.81 million added in FY-17.

The DTH industry witnessed a slowdown in subscriber growth even in fiscal 2016. Combined subscriber additions of the three pay-direct to home operators in India for the annual period ended 31 March 2016 (FY-16) vis-à-vis the previous year (FY-15) grew by 14.8 percent.  This subscriber growth rate was however was much lower than the growth that these entities had in FY-15 at 24.7 percent as compared to FY-14.

The current DTH scenario in India

Dish TV is at present the largest private DTH player in the country in terms of number of subscribers. The three players – Airtel DTH, Dish TV and Videocon d2h represent about 60 to 65 percent marketshare of the pay-TV DTH industry subscribers. The other three players are Tata Sky, Sun Direct and Big TV. Please refer to the figure below for the estimated subscriber marketshare of the private pay-TV players.

public://F2_9.jpg

The government’s FreeDish DTH service is the largest DTH player by far in terms of subscribers with an estimated 22million or 2.2 crore subscribers in 2016 as per the KPMG-FICCI Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2017 (KPMG-FICCI M&E Report 2017) titled Media for the Masse: The Future Unfolds. It must however be noted that an exact number for registered or active subscribers is not available since this is a free DTH service. Also, the proposed merger of Videocon d2h with Dish TV will create the largest private television carriage player in India and quite likely the second largest in the world, be it cable, internet television or DTH or any other.

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