Airtel DTH launches Android-enabled set top box

Airtel Digital TV’s Android-enabled set top box will allow consumers to watch content available on the Internet on television besides regular satellite channels


Airtel DTH’s new Android-enabled set top box is available on Amazon for Rs4,999, which includes a monthly subscription to all channels and Rs7,999, which includes a year’s subscription. Photo: Mint
Airtel DTH’s new Android-enabled set top box is available on Amazon for Rs4,999, which includes a monthly subscription to all channels and Rs7,999, which includes a year’s subscription. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd has launched a new hybrid set-top box integrating its DTH (direct-to-home) offering with Google’s Android TV OS, with apps including Netflix and YouTube, in an attempt to keep its platform relevant for users who are increasingly moving to so-called non-linear TV and increase its average revenue per user.

“Buoyed with the change in consumption of video on online platforms, we are looking at how to change the way people watch TV but we will look to become a one-stop solution for customers with multiple services such as broadband, DTH and cellular network,” Sunil Taldar, CEO and director of DTH, Bharti Airtel, said on the sidelines of the launch of the hybrid set-top box.

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Users will need a broadband connection.

Called Internet TV, the new set-top box has Netflix pre-loaded (although users will need a separate subscription). Taldar said that the company is also talking to Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and Voot for partnerships.

The move comes even as Airtel reported a lower average revenue per user (ARPU) of Rs175 in the December quarter as compared to Rs201 in the previous quarter.

Analysts say the move to unify two services (DTH and data) will result in growth of average revenue per user (data).

“Airtel’s one-stop solution for customers may go some way to improve data ARPUs,” Mahesh Uppal, director of Com First (India) Pvt. Ltd, a company that specialises in telecom policy and regulation, said.

Airtel’s broadband ARPU fell marginally to Rs1,112 in the December quarter; in the previous quarter broadband ARPU had been Rs1,143.

Pavel Naiya, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, agreed that the launch could improve Airtel’s data ARPU. “With the increase in consumption habits of the viewer due to free or unlimited broadband plans, ARPU is expected to rise steadily for the next two years,” Naiya said.

Airtel’s new set-top box is available on Amazon for Rs4,999, which includes a month’s subscription to all channels and Rs7,999, which includes a year’s subscription.

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