Pay DTH subscriber base perks up a bit

Among MSOs’ with more than 1 million sub base, some have seen subs erosion


BENGALURU: The latest DTH subscriber numbers released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) must bring cheer to the private television direct to home (DTH) industry. TRAI recently published quarterly subscriber data as on 30 June 2020. According to the data, the number of pay DTH subscribers using services provided by private DTH operators had declined from a peak of 72.44 million as on 31 March 2019 to a low of 68.92 million during the very next quarter end date – 30 June 2019 because of a change in the way of reckoning active DTH subscribers. Till March 2019, the subscription figure of the total active subscribers included inactive and temporarily suspended subscribers for not more than the last 120 days. However, as per new regulatory framework of Broadcasting and Cable TV Services, the total active subscribers are now counted to include only those subscribers who are inactive/ temporarily suspended for not more than the last 90 days. 

Since 30 June 2019, the number of pay DTH subscribers using services provided by private DTH service providers has been increasing slowly until 30 June 2020. As on 30 June 2020, the number of pay DTH subscriber using services provided by private DTH service providers stood at 70.58 million. This is in addition to the subscribers of DD Free Dish (free DTH services of Doordarshan). 

Please refer to the chart below:

Further, as on March 2019, the number of private DTH subscribers had fallen to four from five previously. Also, TRAI commenced publication of break up of market share to an accuracy of two decimal percentage places from the quarter ended 30 September 2019 onward. Extrapolating the overall number of pay DTH subscribers using services provided by private DTH operators with the total number of pay DTH subscribers (provided in millions, to two decimal places) and the share percentage of the service providers reveals that except for Dish TV, the other three providers had seen subscriber numbers grow. Besides Dish TV’s slow but steady decline in subscriber numbers during all the four quarters for which data is available, the largest service provider in terms of number of subscribers – Tata Sky witnessed a decline in subscriber numbers in the quarter ended 30 June 2020. Please refer to the figure below:

Cable TV operators

TRAI reports state that the country has achieved 100 percent digitization of cable TV network. This is a stupendous achievement making India the only large country where 100 percent digital cable has been achieved through mandatory regulations.

As on 30 June 2020, there were 1,666 MSOs registered with the ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) as compared to 1,613 MSO registered as on 31 December 2019. Further, as per the data reported by MSOs/HITS operators, there were 12 MSOs and one HITS operator who had a subscriber base of more than one million. Details of the total active subscribers of these 12 MSOs and one HITS operator are given in the following table. Please refer to chart below:

In the case of cable TV, the largest player Siti Networks seems to be witnessing a slow but steady loss of subscribers since the quarter ended 31 December 2019. Two other players have also witnessed a subscriber declines – Fastway Transmissions Pvt Ltd and Asianet Digital Network, while most others have gained subscribers during the four quarters in this report.

Satellite TV Channels

A total of 909 private satellite TV channels have been permitted by the MIB for uplinking only/ downlinking only/both uplinking and downlinking, as on 30 June 2020. The quarter-wise figures of the total number of TV channels is depicted in the chart given below.

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