As eyeballs move towards smartphone and tablets, DTH operators are coming up with newer ways to keep viewers hooked to the idiot box. DTH players, including Airtel, is now offering a solution that will convert any television into a smart television.

While Airtel Digital TV, the direct-to-home (DTH) arm of Sunil Mittal-owned Bharti Airtel, has already launched its hybrid set-top box (STB) or internet TV; other like Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio is also testing its internet TV for roll out shortly. Several other DTH players are also understood to be considering the option.

Jio Digital Home

Source said that Jio Digital Home will convert any TV into smart television under its fibre-to-home programme.

“The product is being piloted in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai before it will be rolled out nationally. It will convert any television into smart television,” they said, adding that close to 400 channels will be available live.

Industry experts also point that with data tariffs getting cheaper and consumers spending more time on digital medium, consuming content too is also changing. DTH operators are looking at sustaining business and also gearing up to the barrage of threat from the OTT players. However, a good internet connectivity and fibre connection to home will be a prerequisite for the smart set-top boxes to function well.

In April, Airtel Digital TV launched its hybrid set-top box based on the consumer insight that viewers want to use one single device to watch offline and online content rather than opting for multiple devices, at an affordable price. The hybrid STB converts an existing television into a ‘smart TV, thus enabling users to watch satellite TV content and online content from over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and is priced at ₹ 4,999.

Sunil Taldar, CEO & Director of DTH, Bharti Airtel,. said in statement, said, “Growing broadband penetration is driving the popularity of online content, particularly in urban homes, and with Airtel ‘internet TV’ we are bringing world-class content from the web and much more to the TV screen. This latest innovation has been designed keeping in mind the needs of Indian homes and it bridges the gap between online and offline worlds to enable an end to end entertainment experience with the convenience of a single device.”

Ropes in LG

Airtel has also tied up with Korean consumer giant LG to manufacture smart set-top boxes. The company has also rolled out bundled offers for its home broadband customers.

Pankaj Krishna, CEO & Founder, Chrome Data Analytics and Media, said traditional DTH operators moving to internet TV, “as the shift from DTH to Internet TV primarily aims at retaining customers. Mostly, the millennial are moving towards digital consumption due to several factors such as time flexibility, content quality & quantity etc., so retaining viewers is a new task. Big players like Dish TV and Tata Sky are already offering live TV on mobile handsets, thus allowing their customers to access content on the go.”

Asked if adequate broadband will fuel internet TV, he said, “Offline mode (via. downloading) has changed the game for OTT players, that means, when consumers have the access to the internet, they can download their show and watch it offline as per their convenience. With advantages like flexibility, content and the younger generations’ lean towards digital, yes, internet TV has a bright future.” – The Hindu Business Line