NEW DELHI: Despite the onslaught of digital streaming platforms, India doesn’t seem to be giving up on good old television. According to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) Performance Indicator Report 2019, the direct-to-home (DTH) service sector has displayed significant growth in financial year 2019 with the addition of 4.91 million active subscribers between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

In contrast, the DTH sector had added 3.92 million subscribers in financial year 2018.

Further, DTH has attained net active subscriber base of around 72.44 million with five pay DTH service providers as on 31 March,2019 as compared to 70.49 million at the end of last quarter. This is in addition to the subscribers of the free DTH services of Doordarshan. The DTH market is dominated by Dish TV (40%) followed by Tata Sky (25%) and Airtel TV (22%).

The report further says that there are 328 pay channels in India which include 229 SD (standard definition) pay TV channels and 99 HD (high definition) pay TV channels. The number of satellite pay TV channels has gone up by 20 (from 308 to 328) over FY 2019 compared to 13 in FY 2018. The total number of satellite channels has risen from 875 to 902 over the same period.

The growth in satellite, especially pay channels comes despite Trai’s roll-out of the new tariff order (NTO) according to which consumers can choose the TV channels they want to watch and pay only for them at maximum retail prices (MRPs) set by broadcasters as opposed to the bouquets offered earlier.

“The Trai order has in fact, given DTH operators more benefit and consumers better value for money," said Sukhpreet Singh, corporate head, marketing, Dish TV India Ltd. He added that the growth in the DTH segment may seen as an overall rise in video consumption in India, of which streaming services are part of and not at the expense of DTH providers. Further, big-ticket events like the Lok Sabha elections and the Cricket World Cup have kept audience interest alive in television this year. Post the implementation of the new tariff regime, several broadcasters like Star India and Zee took their FTA (free-to-air) channels off DD Free Dish and converted them into pay channels. DTH services have further upped the game, Dish TV, for example, has an OTT (over-the-top) streaming app called Watcho.

“Despite both cable and DTH being digital platforms, it is DTH that offers total flexibility of instantly selecting a pack, separately for every room and change it as often as it is required. It is this customer convenience that is aiding the higher growth of DTH," said Harit Nagpal, CEO and managing director of Tata Sky.


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