The Indian broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSOs) have yet to sign their interconnect agreements for Phase III of digital addressable system (DAS), covering 38.8 million TV households spanning 630 districts, with a requirement of 47 million set-top boxes. Sixty-one MSOs have approached broadcasters but the MoU is yet to be signed.
Specifically, some issues need to be ironed out. Complete information to broadcasters by MSOs is awaited; several broadcasters are also MSOs, which leads to a conflict of interest; some disputes are still pending between MSOs in certain DAS areas; and a difference prevails between the MSOs and broadcasters on the rate of channels. Means need to be devised to have rational rates for Phase III as the rates for Phase l and Phase Il cannot be workable in the remaining phases. The TRAI has also cautioned the stakeholders not to repeat the mistake of Phase I and Phase II by deploying pre-activated set-top boxes.
Asia-Pacific DTH pay-TV subscriber grew nine percent in 2014 to more than 61 million in 2014, while the industry revenue rose by five percent to top Rs.56,700 crore. India remains the most important market, with Malaysia and the Philippines not far behind. Media Partners Asia estimates that India's active DTH subscriber base will grow from 41 million in 2014 to 75 million by 2023. Industry economics will be bolstered by an increased contribution from high-ARPU HD subscribers, upselling SD subscribers to high-value packs, and a higher uptake of value-added services. Dish TV has started to have more earnings momentum, Tata Sky continues to lead subscriber growth, Airtel has delivered stellar results, and Videocon d2h is now listed on Nasdaq, so the DTH industry has a currency that reflects its improving fundamentals.
Globally, fear of cannibalization has tended to limit OTT deployments by pay-TV platforms to authenticated TV Everywhere services. More operators are looking at standalone services, as a way to reach people that have so far resisted traditional pay-TV subscriptions. To be successful online, the mantra is to start with the consumer, and finish with the consumer. All has to be built around the consumer.