DishTV Mulls Capacity Options in India
DishTV was the first operator in India to launch DTH services and has since been by competitors Tata Sky, Videocon, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications, among others. Rajiv Khattar, president, projects, DishTV, is responsible for many of the operator’s technology and satellite capacity decisions and spoke with the CommunicAsia E-Daily about the operator’s capacity needs and how it will look to develop the Indian pay-TV market.
COMMUNICASIA E-DAILY: What are DishTV’s demands for new capacity?
Khattar: Every player is looking for new capacity in the vicinity of their own satellites so they don’t have to do a dual antenna scenario. This means if you do a dual antenna scenario, you have to provide more service support for customers. Each requirement is unique. I don’t think there will be a high premium on capacity, but there are definitely more capacity requirements. We presently have capacity on NSS-6.
COMMUNICASIA E-DAILY: Would you do a new deal with SES World Skies for capacity?
Khattar: SES World Skies is going to build another satellite at the same location, which may take some time they are already on the drawing board for the same. We might need some capacity before that, so we might look at other options. The SES World Skies satellite is likely to launch in two years. I think if it goes in 2011 without signing a new deal for capacity, I think we can survive without the new capacity. The additional capacity will help us improve our leadership position further.
COMMUNICASIA E-DAILY: What impact have new competitors had on the pay-TV market in India?
Khattar: Surprisingly, the entrance of new players has helped us. We were the first player in the market, and we were spending ‘x’ amount in terms of educating the market. Tata Sky entered the market in 2006 and then upped their spending in terms of educating the market. so they added to the consumer education phase. This has lead to dramatic growth. Consumers have come to know what DTH is and what the product evolved. The competition has really helped grow this market. Our market share may have gone down from 100 percent to 35 percent, but the numbers have seen dramatic growth. We should not be averse to competition. It has made us nimble footed. It has made us more efficient in terms of costs.
COMMUNICASIA E-DAILY: Has subscriber growth surprised you in any way?
Khattar: No. We have been predicting this growth. If you look at what we said in 2005, we had anticipated by 2010 that we would have 20 million subscribers in that market. It doesn’t surprise us. We are definitely keeping our service up to the mark, so we keep pace with this.
COMMUNICASIA E-DAILY: Is there any sign that the market could start to generate better ARPUs from subscribers?
Khattar: It is a low-ARPU market and will not be a $20 market in the near future. However, the ARPU figure will start to go up, once the digitalization of the cable takes place. Cable is the incumbent player, which has forced DTH to work on a lower ARPU. Digitalization of cable will happen as there is pressure on it from the growth of the DTH, and they also need the ARPU to go up if they need to pump in the resources for digitization and this will help raise the prices and help DTH to get higher ARPU out its service offerings.
COMMUNICASIA E-DAILY: Is regulation holding back the Indian pay-TV market?
Khattar: The market is growing fast, and all the players are contributing to this. This is also because of the regulation. If the regulation allows everyone to share the content, it allows a number of players to start their business and educate the market. Maybe once the market is matured, the regulation could enable more differentiated content. Today, it is helping the industry to grow. Non-availability of content would have made it difficult for new platforms to enter into the market and would have been an hindrance for the development of the industry and also confused the consumer more as he would have then waited to see who gets what in how much time.