Reliance Jio’s announcement of launching 4G VoLTE feature phones has the potential to hurt the prospects of the direct to home (DTH) and cable TV industry also, though not to the extent it would impact the incumbent telecom operators. Analysts said DTH and cable TV operators would get hit to an extent since Jio has wide content in its portfolio that the feature phone users can access and view on their television sets. In fact, the announcement of the feature phone saw shares of broadcasting and cable TV companies slumping up to 6% on the BSE on Friday. Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani on Friday said many JioPhone users might like to view their favourite content such as live TV, movies or education on their television sets. He said that this is especially true in many remote parts of the country where even cable TV and high speed internet have not reached. “Our young Jio engineers have created an innovation to help them — a special and affordable ‘JioPhone TV cable’ that connects JioPhone with any TV, not just a smart TV, so that all JioPhone users can enjoy viewing on the big screen of their existing television sets,” he said.
“Along with this accessory, users can opt for the existing Jio Dhan Dhana Dhan Rs 309 pack that would allow users to watch almost three to four hours of videos daily, of their choice, on a large screen,” Ambani added. Since RIL had announced on Thursday that it would acquire around 25% stake in Balaji Telefilm, which is a content production company, for around Rs 413 crore, analysts saw the JioPhone-TV synergy to be detrimental for cable and broadcasting company. However, according to some analysts the impact would not be much. As per various reports, the national cable average revenue per user (Arpu) stands at Rs 150-175 and for DTH it is at Rs 200-210. “If one has to consume just a couple of hours of content on television, then having a cable or DTH connection will cost less than the one launched by RIL,” said Ashish Pherwani, partner — advisory, media and entertainment, EY.
According to the KPMG FICCI Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2017, the number of cable and DTH households in India increased to 181 million in 2016, resulting in a TV penetration of 63%.