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May 2015

AIRTEL CLAIMS 10 MILLION SUBS

Airtel Digital TV, the DTH service by India's largest telecom company, says it now has more than 10 million (1 Crore) active DTH subscribers. "The 10-million milestone gives us almost 25% market share of active households among all DTH players in India. That's a good number to have to keep operations on a steady basis," said Shashi Arora, CEO of Airtel Digital TV/Media.

"Our net adds over the last few years has been on an average of 1 million per annum," Arora said. Digital TV revenue increased 15.8% to Rs. 623.4 crore in the 3 months ended December 2014 from a year earlier. The Airtel group's revenue in that quarter was Rs. 23,217 crore, the company said in a release on February 4. Hence DTH represented a mere 2.7% of revenues.


ACTIVE SUBS

For the Indian DTH market, the number of active subscribers is a key metric, since the market has a very large number of inactive / dead DTH STBs.

According to figures released by sector regulator - TRAI, at end December 2014, the number of registered pay DTH subscribers had reached 73 million. However, a huge number of these: 32.52 million, or about 45%, were inactive! These 32.52 million household had discontinued their DTH subscriptions.


More Than 32 Million Households Have Stopped Their DTH Service





DTH MARKET

Launched in October 2008, Airtel Digital TV competes with 5 other DTH platforms: Dish TV, Tata Sky, Reliance Digital TV, Videocon D2H and Sun Direct.

With an estimated break-even of approximately 15 million DTH subscribers, and a total of only 40.5 million active DTH subscribers, there is room for only 3 profitable Indian DTH platforms, in the medium term. Clearly atleast 2 if not 3 will have to wind up, as they are unlikely to be able to turn a profit in the foreseeable future.

Some reports predict that the Indian DTH market will grow at 19% per annum annually till 2018. This holds out some hope for the industry. However, DTH calls for deep pockets and huge resources, to maintain a market presence. Atleast 2 of the 6 Indian Pay DTH platforms are rumoured to have pulled back significant funding for their platforms, while more than 2 player hopes to draw funding from the stock market.


More Than 32 Million Households Have Stopped Their DTH Service


DTH MARKET

Launched in October 2008, Airtel Digital TV competes with 5 other DTH platforms: Dish TV, Tata Sky, Reliance Digital TV, Videocon D2H and Sun Direct.

With an estimated break-even of approximately 15 million DTH subscribers, and a total of only 40.5 million active DTH subscribers, there is room for only 3 profitable Indian DTH platforms, in the medium term. Clearly atleast 2 if not 3 will have to wind up, as they are unlikely to be able to turn a profit in the foreseeable future.

Some reports predict that the Indian DTH market will grow at 19% per annum annually till 2018. This holds out some hope for the industry. However, DTH calls for deep pockets and huge resources, to maintain a market presence. Atleast 2 of the 6 Indian Pay DTH platforms are rumoured to have pulled back significant funding for their platforms, while more than 2 player hopes to draw funding from the stock market.


Atleast 2 If Not 3 DTH Platforms Need To Shut Down


RURAL GROWTH

DTH platforms had placed huge hopes of getting a significant share of the DAS Phase 2 market which included 38 towns and cities. However, consumers in these areas have stayed with their Cable TV service providers.

Shashi Arora, CEO, Airtel Digital TV, said, "A large chunk of our growth today is coming from smaller towns and cable dark areas. Nearly two-third of our new customers are from non-metros, semi-urban areas, including remote parts of the country."

"We have been adding about 1 million new subscribers a year. In the next 2 phases of digitisation, we expect this number to grow significantly, and a lot more growth from smaller towns and cities," he added.


ARPU GROWTH TARGETED

Like all DTH platforms, increasing Average Revenue Per Subscriber (ARPU) is a thrust area. Hence, Arora confirms that growth in HD subscriber base will also be a key focus area. "Given the proliferation of smart television sets, the HD market has witnessed a strong growth and our HD base has doubled in the last one year. We currently offer 27- odd HD channels and hope to grow it to 50 HD channels this year," he added.

It will also expand the regional channel portfolio and offer the "Highest number of channels" in Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, and Tamil.