Tata Sky, the country’s largest distributor of television content, has taken decided to take on JioTV and other emerging content distributors with an online streaming website of its own.
The DTH provider’s online video and TV service can be accessed at ‘watch.tatasky.com‘ and currently has around 250 live television channels, compared to over 550 on JioTV and 350 on Airtel TV.
Cable and satellite-based content distributors like Tata Sky, Dish TV and Sun Direct used to enjoy a near monopoly over live and curated television content till about a year ago.
However, Reliance Jio, a telecom operator that started services in late 2016, has disrupted the television distribution market with its JioTV app.
Though app-based distribution had been tried earlier, most notably by Yupp TV, it had failed to mount an effective threat to cable and DTH companies due to two key factors — the refusal of most TV channels to provide their content to these apps, and the high cost of internet access in India.
Reliance Jio solved the first problem by offering a very high amount to television channels in order to get the right to distribute their content on its JioTV app.
It also solved the second problem by making data available at just around Rs 3 per GB, down from the existing rate of Rs 220 per GB. 1 GB of data is enough to watch 3 hours of standard-definition television, and about 1 hour of high-definition television.
The results have been spectacular for the company and its apps. JioTV is currently among the most downloaded apps in India.
The app is estimated to be used by over 10 cr of the 16 cr Reliance Jio users in India, making it by far the largest TV streaming app in India, and second only to Youtube among video streaming apps.
CABLE, DTH WORRIED
The success of JioTV, along with the steep fall in broadband prices that have in turn spurred the launch of several copycat applications, have the cable and DTH companies worried.
Cable and DTH companies fear that the most lucrative segments of their customers — who are also likely to have unlimited high-speed broadband at home — may soon resort to ‘cord cutting’ and rely entirely on internet-based services for their video entertainment needs.
They also worry about ‘disintermediation’ — the loss of their role as the intermediary or medium between content makers (such as Star India and Zee) and consumers. The rising popularity of Hotstar, the content app from Star India, Sony Liv and Viacom18’s Voot has only added to such concerns.
Cable and DTH operators see the influx of telecom operators, content companies and technology players into content distribution as an encroachment on their turf.
Tata Sky is seen as the most vulnerable to such shifting trends due to its focus on high-end users.
Unlike cable companies, which are dealing with the shift by offering broadband services, a satellite-based operator like Tata Sky does not have that option.
Not surprisingly, Tata Sky has therefore been the most active in trying to put up its defenses against such rising threats.
Over the last one year, it has spruced up its content distribution app, known as Tata Sky Mobile, and has now introduced a web-based version of the same.
It has also added new sections to its service that allow its customers to watch past programs on any of the channels that they are subscribed to.
Besides watching old programs, Tata Sky has also added a ‘Movies’ section, featuring content syndicated from libraries and studios.