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Home >News >India >Covid impact: Cable, DTH players dole out offers, overlook ARPU to retain users

Covid impact: Cable, DTH players dole out offers, overlook ARPU to retain users

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According to Trai's Performance Indicator Report 2019, the DTH service sector displayed significant growth in financial year 2019 with the addition of 4.91 million active subscribers between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019

  • This will happen despite lower average revenue per user as companies allow deferred payments or options to choose cheaper packs

NEW DELHI: While several other industries perish with dwindling revenues, broadcast distribution platforms in India, including cable and direct-to-home (DTH) services, say they are pinning hopes on either retaining their subscriber base or seeing an increase of at least 7-8% post the covid-19 pandemic. This will happen despite lower ARPUs (average revenue per user) as companies allow deferred payments or options to choose cheaper packs.

NEW DELHI: While several other industries perish with dwindling revenues, broadcast distribution platforms in India, including cable and direct-to-home (DTH) services, say they are pinning hopes on either retaining their subscriber base or seeing an increase of at least 7-8% post the covid-19 pandemic. This will happen despite lower ARPUs (average revenue per user) as companies allow deferred payments or options to choose cheaper packs.

“There is no doubt that the lower end of the customer base has faced a cash crunch, those below the threshold of 400 per month but we’re still looking at a normal trajectory of subscriber growth," a Tata Sky spokesperson said adding that two broad things have happened over the past three months.

“There is no doubt that the lower end of the customer base has faced a cash crunch, those below the threshold of 400 per month but we’re still looking at a normal trajectory of subscriber growth," a Tata Sky spokesperson said adding that two broad things have happened over the past three months.

One, people who already owned a set-top box started becoming active again and the process of taking new connections has kickstarted, especially over the last month. In fact, the DTH platform witnessed an increase in recharges, nearly a billion, in the first month of lockdown though that slowed down a bit later as daily wagers felt the crunch. But the service soon discovered a targeted way to optimize on this segment as well, cancelling channels or subscription packs for about seven million subscribers to retain them on the service as the covid-19 pandemic threatened wages and income and thus discretionary spends.

One, people who already owned a set-top box started becoming active again and the process of taking new connections has kickstarted, especially over the last month. In fact, the DTH platform witnessed an increase in recharges, nearly a billion, in the first month of lockdown though that slowed down a bit later as daily wagers felt the crunch. But the service soon discovered a targeted way to optimize on this segment as well, cancelling channels or subscription packs for about seven million subscribers to retain them on the service as the covid-19 pandemic threatened wages and income and thus discretionary spends.

Meanwhile, d2h, a DTH brand of Dish TV India Ltd, came out with a ‘Friends and Family Recharge’ programme that allowed any d2h customer to recharge for another using the respective registered telephone number or customer ID on the service’s website or app. The company also improved its ‘You Promise We Resume’ plan, offering a five-day extended recharge credit window to customers for 10 per month and came up with a ‘Pay Later’ service which allowed a customer to give a missed call and avail the facility of an extended viewing period without any extra charges.

Meanwhile, d2h, a DTH brand of Dish TV India Ltd, came out with a ‘Friends and Family Recharge’ programme that allowed any d2h customer to recharge for another using the respective registered telephone number or customer ID on the service’s website or app. The company also improved its ‘You Promise We Resume’ plan, offering a five-day extended recharge credit window to customers for 10 per month and came up with a ‘Pay Later’ service which allowed a customer to give a missed call and avail the facility of an extended viewing period without any extra charges.

“These are testing times and to encourage people to stay indoors, the ‘Pay Later’ facility is our contribution to relieve their stress of stepping out to recharge," Anil Dua, executive director and group CEO, Dish TV India Ltd, had said in a statement.

“These are testing times and to encourage people to stay indoors, the ‘Pay Later’ facility is our contribution to relieve their stress of stepping out to recharge," Anil Dua, executive director and group CEO, Dish TV India Ltd, had said in a statement.

Karan Taurani, vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd said local cable operators may have traditionally worked with physical modes of payment but used the lockdown period to nearly double their online transactions and take advantage of people staying home and craving entertainment. The lack of fresh content was possibly offset by the return of mythological classics, movies and news, especially the last that was viewed extensively by men.

Karan Taurani, vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd said local cable operators may have traditionally worked with physical modes of payment but used the lockdown period to nearly double their online transactions and take advantage of people staying home and craving entertainment. The lack of fresh content was possibly offset by the return of mythological classics, movies and news, especially the last that was viewed extensively by men.

“Post the imposition of the lockdown, to ease the burden on our subscribers, we have been giving them more options to subscribe to channels of their choice. We have introduced lean content offerings which make it easy for them to maintain connectivity and keep themselves abreast with the latest in entertainment, news, infotainment and so on," said Anil Malhotra, CEO at SITI Networks Ltd which also made available the option of quick recharge on its website through which customers could recharge their account at home without contacting the local cable operator.

“Post the imposition of the lockdown, to ease the burden on our subscribers, we have been giving them more options to subscribe to channels of their choice. We have introduced lean content offerings which make it easy for them to maintain connectivity and keep themselves abreast with the latest in entertainment, news, infotainment and so on," said Anil Malhotra, CEO at SITI Networks Ltd which also made available the option of quick recharge on its website through which customers could recharge their account at home without contacting the local cable operator.

Ashish Pherwani, partner (media and entertainment) at consulting firm EY, said despite some friction in payment collection, subscriber base has only grown during the lockdown and that is complemented by the rise in time spent on watching TV. According to a report by BARC and data measurement firm Nielsen, at its peak, TV viewership was 43% higher than in the pre-covid period. Further, the moratorium given by cable and DTH services will go a long way in creating trust with customers. Also, as things normalize, TV advertising volume had grown by 16% by the end of May as compared to previous weeks.

Ashish Pherwani, partner (media and entertainment) at consulting firm EY, said despite some friction in payment collection, subscriber base has only grown during the lockdown and that is complemented by the rise in time spent on watching TV. According to a report by BARC and data measurement firm Nielsen, at its peak, TV viewership was 43% higher than in the pre-covid period. Further, the moratorium given by cable and DTH services will go a long way in creating trust with customers. Also, as things normalize, TV advertising volume had grown by 16% by the end of May as compared to previous weeks.

Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharti pointed out that anecdotally from social media chatter as well as feedback from set top box vendors, he knows there is high consumer interest in FreeDish too resulting in demand for new boxes. Free Dish is Prasar Bharati's free-to-air DTH platform.

Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharti pointed out that anecdotally from social media chatter as well as feedback from set top box vendors, he knows there is high consumer interest in FreeDish too resulting in demand for new boxes. Free Dish is Prasar Bharati's free-to-air DTH platform.

“We have put together an all-India database of known dealers and shared it through our website and social media to guide citizens who are keen to acquire a FreeDish STB. With mass education through DD and HRD channels becoming critical due to the circumstances resulting from the covid-19 pandemic, we believe there will be substantial demand for FreeDish STBs in the days ahead," Vempati said.

“We have put together an all-India database of known dealers and shared it through our website and social media to guide citizens who are keen to acquire a FreeDish STB. With mass education through DD and HRD channels becoming critical due to the circumstances resulting from the covid-19 pandemic, we believe there will be substantial demand for FreeDish STBs in the days ahead," Vempati said.

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) Performance Indicator Report 2019, the DTH service sector displayed significant growth in financial year 2019 with the addition of 4.91 million active subscribers between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) Performance Indicator Report 2019, the DTH service sector displayed significant growth in financial year 2019 with the addition of 4.91 million active subscribers between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

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