India’s DTH subs top 44m

India’s DTH satellite subscribers now exceed 44 million homes, says Hong Kong-based Media Partners Asia (MPA). The number of homes with satellite TV installed has expanded from 25 million at the end of 2010, to Nov 2011’s position of 44.4 million. However, the numbers also show up some challenges for the over-supplied industry.

The industry leader is still Subhash Chandra’s Dish TV with a 28.2 per cent market share. TataSky is doing well with a 19-20 per cent share, while Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct each having about 16 per cent share. MPA says that Videocon’s D2H operation has seen some excellent growth this past year despite being a late entrant into the market (and now with an 11.4 per cent share or about 5.1 million subs).

But if there are winners there has to be losers, and Reliance’s Digital TV (formerly ‘Big TV’) has fallen back to 5th position (from 4th) and a 9.5 per cent share (4.2m homes) and not helped by higher churn rates.

Price increases were applied by India’s major DTH operators in November 2011, while also lowering trade margins by INR200-250 per new subscriber. This move should, says MPA, boost average revenue per user (ARPU) figures and will help offset the rising subscriber acquisition costs from a depreciating rupee.

This year also sees the obligatory roll out of digital TV to India’s cable players, and is seen by many as representing a growth opportunity for DTH. Multi system cable operators (MSOs) are anticipating a 15-20 per cent loss of cable subscribers to DTH during the first phase, which requires the digitisation of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai by June this year.

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