It perfectly fits the agenda for a healthy debate as to who is leading race in the current era of Digital TV – the wide spread Cable operators or the fast emerging DTH players?
Personally, I still remain a Cable subscriber, content with the digital clarity of STB connection. Digital connection involves reception of TV signals through Set-top Boxes (STB) either through Cable connection or even fast growing Direct-to-Home (DTH) service.
Cable connections have an advantage of price and local programming. Where as, multi-choice functions of DTH and its interactive and personal services forms the lure for this new breed of technology.
Even as the DTH players are gradually ramping up their market share, the Cable connections still form the preferred choice for a large majority of the subscribers even today. While DTH subscribers summed-up to paltry 22 million by 2010, the overall Cable subscriber base in the country stood at 83 million during 2008.
With the entry of corporate giants such as Dish TV, Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV and Big TV among other players, the market for DTH services is more organized than the Cable industry and has been able to sneak into the market for digital T V, effectively competing wide-spread cable operators.
According to the ‘TAM Annual Universe Update –2010’ study, out of the estimated 135 million total number of TV households in India, 80% of the them are subscribed to cable and satellite connection. From this cable subscriber base, only one in every five households avails of digital connection.
Further, a report by Media Partners Asia says for the next four years cable is expected to dominate Indian TV households with a 70% share
Most of the cable connections come with fixed charges and cost, mostly cheaper than DTH services, with out any add-on packages and free access to most of the channels on air including latest yet pirated movies on local connections.
However, the pay-DTH is gradually gaining ground in rural India where the subscriber base has almost doubled since past couple of years.
The positive about DTH connection is it provides interactive programming choices and interactive features such as movie on demand and other informative and active services. Add to that, customer service is a key factor that distinguishes DTH platforms from cable services as the operators are themselves involved in installation and servicing.
Many analysts are of the view that both cable and DTH services can grow simultaneously in the Indian market. In fact, DTH players target 33% of cable market in the next couple of years. It certainly seems that after mobile revolution, it could well be turn of the DTH market to explode into a mass product.
And most probably the competition and involvement of the big corporate world in this business space would ultimately benefit none other than the final consumer of the premium direct-to-home services.
However, the lure of cable TV still remains the free content, and it remains to be seen whether personalized interactive services of DTH can convince the cable subscribers to ring-in the volume game for the DTH industry. More so, the digitalization of content with the aid of STB has kept the cable connections on the loop.
The pay-per-view model is a new feature which is set to grab audience with opportunity to watch some of the recently released movies in DVD picture quality and CD quality sound.
By now, I hope you must have concluded which type of Digital TV experience is here to stay longer. Well, for me, it seems I’m still fixed to decide on it just yet.