Anil Ambani’s DTH to beam this month via 100 channels

Thursday, March 20, 2008 | | |

Big TV Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications (RCOM), will launch direct-to-home (DTH) services commercially by the end of this month.

It expects to offer DTH services to over 10 million subscribers across the country and feed to over 15 million households.

Big TV will offer set-top boxes (STBs) at Rs 1,000-Rs 1,500, along with a monthly subscription package of Rs 300, which will entitle them to watch the channels being aired; it will also provide subscribers Rs 100 worth pay-per view (PPV) movies. They will have access to 30 PPV channels showing Bollywood, Hollywood and regional films.

Sumit Chowdhury, CIO, Reliance Communications, said: “The DTH service will commercially launch before the end of March.”

He declined to give the number of channels and other details but sources said that Big TV will offer around 100 channels initially. Later, the company is expected to increase the number of channels to 300.

Industry sources said the launch is likely only in May 2008 as the hardware is not yet ready, and the company will prefer the launch after school vacation commences on May 2008 though it was not independently confirmed.

Meanwhile, Chowdhury said Wimax technology isn’t cost-effective at present due to spectrum shortage. Nationwide launch of Wimax services will depend on the availability of more spectrum, he said.

At present, the DTH market is dominated by two private players — Essel group’s Dish TV and TataSky, which is a joint venture between the Tatas and Rupert Murdoch’s Star Group.

Dish TV, the first DTH player in the country, has around 3 million subscribers, while TataSky has over 1.7 million. Apart from these, Bharti group and Sun TV will also launch DTH in by year-end. According to an estimate, the DTH reach in India is likely to expand from 2.5 million households now to 16 million by 2010. Unlike cable, DTH is a more organised and a less-regulated business. With heavyweights foraying into the space, the DTH segment is set to outpace digital cable in the near term and become a 14 million home market by fiscal 2010.