'DTH industry continues to expand rapidly'

Ravi budhwar

21 Apr 2011
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Tata Sky has managed to surprise subscribers with technology innovations ever since its launch; the latest being Tata Sky Video on Demand which includes Catch Up TV and VoD Movie Library. Sanjeev Sinha caught up with Mr. Vikram Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer, Tata Sky, for his views on how Tata Sky is ready to change the way we see DTH in India. Excerpts:

There have been many innovations in the DTH industry since its inception. Are there any more future technologies in the loop?

Tata Sky has always been in the forefront of introducing future technologies and innovations in the Indian DTH industry. First it was a unique range of interactive services, then the bi-lingual guide followed by the PVR (Personal Video Recorder), Gaming, High Definition and Mobile Access which provides consumers a unique social experience. The latest addition to the technology leadership is the launch of our latest Video on Demand (VoD) service that includes 'Catch Up TV' and VoD Movie Library. Catch Up TV is a service that allows its Tata Sky+ HD subscribers to watch their favourite TV show even after the original broadcast without the need to record. This unique service will give subscribers access to select TV shows that can be downloaded from the Tata Sky server and viewed at their convenience. The VoD Movie Library is an assortment of old and new movies that will be available to the subscriber for easy downloads. It will host over 500-1000 movie titles across multiple genres and languages in digital quality. Subscribers can choose from erstwhile Kishore Kumar, Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan movies to contemporary movies with Ranbir Kapoor, Hritihik Roshan & Aamir Khan etc

What is fuelling the growth of DTH services in India?

The DTH industry continues to expand rapidly and there are no signs of a slowdown in this industry. Given the superior quality in terms of viewing and interactivity, the number of DTH subscribers will continue to grow. One of the key reasons is the technology progression and overall value proposition that is simplifying and enhancing consumer's television viewing experience that is driving the growth of DTH services in India. Another important catalyst for growth of DTH is customer service since it is a key differentiator between the DTH players and the unorganized service providers. Cheap pricing can no longer be an excuse for poor customer service and players who focus on customer needs will flourish. Hence, at Tata Sky we have several call centers manned by over 1,200 people and dealing in 11 languages 24x7 to ensure that all our users find it easy to interact with us and help us to serve them better.

There seems to be a huge amount of buzz in High Definition these days. But what about its market potential and consumer expectations?

Although the concept of HD is relatively new, it is fast becoming a game changer in the Indian DTH market. However, the growth of HD depends on two key factors -- content and pricing. It is imperative that the content that is marketed as HD is genuinely shot using high definition cameras. The current trend of selling up-converted channels as HD will do a grave damage as the customer will feel cheated. Pricing is important for market penetration. Last year, Tata Sky launched its HD box at an affordable price point of just Rs 2599. Nowhere in the world has HD technology been offered at such great value by any DTH operator. Our aim was to make HD part of a colossal number of Indian households across the country. We followed that up with the launch of our HD PVR box that allows you to record live content in HD as well. All our HD content is available as part of our HD pack (Rs 75) which any subscriber irrespective of their base pack can take. Broadcasters today are providing Tru HD content in all formats of Movies, Sports, GECs, etc. This is inevitably going to lead to higher penetration of HD technology. We believe it to be the future of TV viewing and see a huge potential with DTH especially driving it growth.

Tata Sky currently offers around 8 HD channels while some of its competitors claim to offer as many as 40 HD channels. Why this big difference?

As a technology leader, we believe in providing the best to our consumers and in its original form. As a policy we don't launch upconverted HD channels on our platforms. All our HD channels are Asli HD channels, shot using HD cameras. Our current lineup has Sports (ESPN, Star Cricket), Movies (Star Movies, Star Gold), GEC, Infotainment etc. Many more channels will be launched in future. Our endeavor is to offer the best HD content including last Cricket World Cup & IPL to our viewers. The upcoming India-Aus series will also be available on HD to our subscribers. It is crucial that the consumers are educated about the difference between the multiple forms of HD that is currently being offered. At Tata Sky our aim has always been to offer greater value and most importantly in its purest form and we would continue on this principle. We currently provide 8 true HD channels on our platform and would continue to add more channels to our bouquet as and when it is launched in its purest form.

What are your future growth strategies and plans? Are you also going to introduce some new features and technologies in near future?

Our overall strategy has always been to offer our consumers greater value by introducing a host of unique innovations and services. The latest being the launch of our VoD service and we except to double our current PVR subscriber base in the next couple of years. As for future features and technologies, we have always proved to be one of the best and will continue to do so by launching technologically advanced features as per our customers' demands.

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