The next two years will be big for DTH

Written by fe Bureau | Updated: Feb 29 2012, 05:40am hrs
At a time when reports are doing the rounds that the direct-to-home industry has hit a pause button, industry majors like Dish TV are pinning hopes of growth on the governments compulsory digitisation drive. In fact, Dish TVs Salil Kapoor points out that the consumer acceptance for DTH is growing, but also admits that two key issues will play differentiatorcontent and technology. Dish TV, which is the market leader with 12.5 million subscribers in a base of 45 million, has just spent R25 crore on a rebranding exercise and a new campaign, roping in talented music director Amit Trivedi (DevD, No One Killed Jessica, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu) and retaining Shah Rukh Khan as brand ambassador. I dont see a slowdown in DTH. There are 140 million TV households in India, theres ample scope for growth, Kapoor tells FE. Excerpts:

The DTH industry appears to be slowing down with reports that there are a large number of inactive users. Is that what you are witnessing as market leader

The government has just given a huge regulatory push to the DTH sector. The digitisation drive will definitely lead the sector to growth. There are 140 million TV households of which the DTH base is around 44-45 million, so theres ample scope for growth. We are seeing growth both in big cities and in small towns. In fact, we are at 12.5 million, but by the end of the next fiscal we should have added

2.5 million more and these are

good numbers.

How difficult is it to hold on to a customer after you have got one

There are two to three key differentiators. One is content, two technology, three price. We have done our market research and come up with strategies that fit different types of customers, different types of pockets and that has started to pay off for us. Price is important, there are customers who want different, high-end content who are willing to pay more for the service, there are some who want mostly regional, there are others who want a good mix, but at a competitive price. We have tried to cater to all categories and that has helped us become the market leader.

You also went for a rebranding

exercise

Yes, we spent about R25 crore in rebranding Dish TV with a new ad

campaign and roping in music

talent Amit Trivedi.

But what is the response to DTH in small towns

The DTH industry is seeing a natural growth in the country. Consumer acceptance for DTH is growing in small towns as well as cities. There is a growing subscriber confidence in DTH for last mile connectivity for TV viewing. The game changers are content and technology, which plays a big role.

What are some of the innovations in the sector

I can speak for Dish TV and we are doing many new things on prices, technology and content. For instance, we have launched an HD recorder at an attractive pricepoint, which is giving us good traction. In fact, several cost innovations have helped Dish TV grow the numbers. But the biggest boost has come from the government with its regulation on digitisation. Theres an expectation of huge growth from this. The next two years will be big for DTH.

But the ARPU (average return per user) is still low and a cause for concern.

Our average ARPU is at R150, but with our new HD drive, we are hoping to take it up to the R450 level.