DTH operators dole out freebies to capture market

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018

In the wake of digitisation, Direct-to-home (DTH) operators have upped the ante in their battle against multi-service operators (MSOs) to capture a larger share of the market.

Airtel and Videocon have come up with bundling offers where the hardware (commonly include set-top box and a receiver) is provided free of cost or at a subsidised rate.

Airtel said that advertisements have gone into print starting end-October about its bundling offers. Subscribers need to pay Rs 4,800 (subscription price for two years on the basic pack of Rs 200) and installation charges will be waived while the set-top box and receiver will be provided for free.

“Normally we operate on a partial subsidy model where the hardware is leased out to users. The bundling offer was initially launched in the four metros and has now gone national,” Shashi Arora, CEO, DTH/Media, Bharti Airtel told Business Line.

Such offers will soon be a norm in the industry, he added.

Similarly, Videocon too has introduced bundling plans where the subscriber chooses between annual subscriptions (one year) of three different packs priced at Rs 3,180, Rs 3,840 and Rs 5,544 (for high definition). Advertisements regarding the offer have gone on air as well into print. Queries sent to Videocon elicited no response.

Market sources maintain that not more than 30 per cent of the cable television enabled households in the country are controlled by DTH operators that include Dish TV, Airtel, Reliance Digital TV, Videocon d2h, Sun Direct and Tata Sky.

Previous offers

M.G. Azhar, COO, Den Networks, an MSO, said, “These are signs of desperation by the DTH players. Currently, most people have preferred to go with the MSOs.”

DTH players had tried similar bundling strategies but with a different format. Earlier operators would enter into tie-ups with television-makers and connections (that include set-top boxes) were given either for free or at a discounted rate. Sometimes offers were valid for a particular period (i.e. 250 channels for three months without any charge).

However, over the last one year most of these offers have been discontinued following poor market response. Typically, the consumers preferred to opt out after the expiry of the offer period or there wasn’t appropriate churn in the market through these offers, a market source said.

Published on November 07, 2012

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