Sony, Tata Sky still at loggerheads over price hike; consumers suffer

By: | Published: November 10, 2018 4:05 AM

On October 1 and 2, 2018, Sony channel’s Kaun Banega Crorepati found its first Rs 1-crore winner of the season.

tatasky, sony, sony channelAs of June 30, 2018, Tata Sky commanded a 27% market share in the DTH space as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data.

On October 1 and 2, 2018, Sony channel’s Kaun Banega Crorepati found its first Rs 1-crore winner of the season. The broadcaster promoted the episodes featuring the landmark moment with aggressive on-air promotions aimed at a spike in viewership. But, on October 1, direct-to-home service provider Tata Sky pulled off all channels distributed by Sony Pictures Networks India over differences with the broadcaster.

After the KBC airing fiasco, Tata Sky subscribers had taken to social media to express their angst, while Tata Sky had responded: “Commercial negotiations with Sony broke down because what they were seeking would have forced us to hike our prices. Hence, we have had to drop a few channels while keeping the popular ones on. Please bear with us for some time because we are doing this in our subscribers’ interest.”

Tata Sky’s premise is that the interconnect agreement which was earlier signed at approximately Rs 850 crore is now priced at around Rs 1,700 crore, which the DTH service provider finds uneconomical. On the other hand, Sony justifies the price hike by showcasing their new channel launches, post which the overall bouquet offering has gone up to 32 channels. “Tata Sky might be inflating the number; it may not be Rs 1,700 crore. We also need to understand that their subscriber base has gone up from 10 million to 16 million. So, a hike in the rate is tabled after taking all this into account,” says a Sony official.

As of June 30, 2018, Tata Sky commanded a 27% market share in the DTH space as per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data.

A senior Tata Sky official, on the other hand, sheds light on the fact that after Sony lost the telecasting rights of Indian Premier League “very few of its channels are at the top of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India’s viewership charts. In such circumstances, a deal more than double the size of the previous one does not make economic sense to us”.

Under the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO), Tata Sky has kept 10 SPNI channels available on an à la carte basis for its subscribers. One can avail these channels by giving a missed call on a number displayed on the television screen.

Sony has also made an ad urging the viewers to call Tata Sky customer care and ask for their favourite Sony channels. In the ad, airing on TV and digital media, viewers are asked to change their DTH operator if they are deprived of their favourite programmes.

“Such incidences cause some disruption but this happens everywhere and not only in India. Both the parties are monopoly providers, so there is going to be some occasional friction which eventually will get resolved,” says RC Venketeish, consultant, Discovery’s DSport and former CEO of Dish TV. He further adds that the new tariff order from Trai, effective from January 1, 2019, could do away with such problems. “Under the new tariff order all channels are to be sold only on an à la carte basis, thereby eliminating issues,” he says.

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