DTH has its own significance in today’s digital world. It continues to be the primary mode of content consumption, given the fact that major chunks of population are still dispersed and not everyone has the wherewithal for deploying broadband and other services. To understand the market dynamics and the future of DTH in today’s mobile world, Ramesh Kumar Raja talked to Vijender Singh, CMD of Pantel Technologies Pvt Ltd that recently acquired the Reliance Big TV. Excerpts:
With the advancement of the OTT space and content being available on mobile offering convenience, where do you think the DTH market is headed?
India, at present, is one of the most compelling and rewarding markets for DTH, owing to the rise in disposable income and digital pay-TV. As reflected in the Frost & Sullivan’s report, DTH is going to drive the growth of Pay TV revenue in India, which is expected to grow by 19%. This holds true, despite the growth of OTT and VOD services. Furthermore, the future prospects of DTH are phenomenal in India, although we need to weed out certain challenges like the prevailing out-dated technologies, policies, and regulations. The growth definitely belongs to players that are able to innovate, bring in unique and India-centric business models, dedicated at serving the masses.
What makes DTH still the primary medium of content consumption?
There is strength in numbers and that is one of the most fundamental factors working in the favour of DTH service. In emerging markets, such as India, DTH will continue to be the primary mode of consumption, given the fact that major chunks of population are still dispersed and not everyone has the wherewithal for deploying broadband and other services. In addition to the wherewithal and cost-efficiency, DTH is also more reliable means for accessing entertainment. In spite of the wave of digitization in India, the broadband services and internet speeds continue to be inconsistent. DTH, on the other hand, provides reliable and consistent services.
How do you see digital innovations in content consumption affect this market?
The rise of digital content consumption has been inspiring and has laid the pavement for DTH service providers to innovate. The viewers of today are demanding technically advanced solutions and DTH providers need to adhere to the same. To the same end, the industry is adopting newer means, such as HEVC boxes. Such boxes come with advanced features and give users the flexibility to consume digital content as well.
What are the distinct features and bouquet of channels offered by your HD HEVC settop box?
High Efficiency Video Coding has been one of the disruptions in the industry. The HD HEVC set-top-box offered effectively free of cost by Reliance Big TV provides advanced features like schedule recording, USB ports, YouTube access, and simultaneous viewing and recording of TV shows.
In the latest offer, we are providing nearly 500 FTA channels, effectively free of cost for 5 years. In addition, users will also be able to enjoy pay-channels absolutely free for a year. After first year, interested users can pay a monthly subscription of INR 300, and continue to watch pay-channels.
How does it change the access to entertainment for the Tier III and beyond markets and would viewers be open to it since the growth of FTA channels is on the rise?
Everyone is charging a huge amount from the customer and everyone is talking about HD quality. For instance; if I am a customer from rural community, living in Tier 3 town, then it would be out of my capacity to shell out 8,000 rupees. What is the fault of new generation coming in? If the new generation is not able to access the required information / news and other important content, how will they be able to survive in the society? So, here we have simplified all these challenges by providing a one-stop-solution, a singular HD HEVC Set-Top-Box, which would have the latest technology, HD quality Box and one price for all the customers, both in rural and urban India. At their own sweet will and discretion, users can choose to watch whatever pleases them. However, with the latest offer, we have brought urban and rural India on the same platform.
Since entertainment and education are bridging the urban-rural divide, what is your vision to support the Digital India initiative especially after the acquisition of a popular brand?
When we speak about Digital India, it is our basic right to be able to access daily news, information or good entertainment, free of cost. Driven with the same vision, we decided to acquire one DTH company in India and explore various opportunities, such as providing free entertainment or free education to the nation.
Furthermore, when we talk about Digital India, whatever information one wishes to spread to the customers, one can easily share it via DTH. Neither smartphone, nor cable has the similar bandwidth. Take any ministry or government information, they should send to us and we will spread it across the country; in fact, we would like to support the government and do spread important information, free of cost. This should be the main focus of a DTH operator, i.e. to spread the basic information among the customers.
Lastly, perhaps a few years down the lane, one will be able to access this internet facility through DTH. I have been noticing all these things and also noticed the gaps in the same. For the same reason, we decided to go ahead and launch this new offer and bring DTH entertainment effectively free of cost to 130 crore Indians.