Broadband plans could soon come with free DTH

Airtel’s IPTV+DTH box

Dish TV said it is looking at bundling its DTH plans with broadband plans from other players.

“..that is certainly on the cards looking at partnership with different broadband players that will happen as required,” said Managing Director Jawahar Goel in an interaction with investors after the company’s results announcement for the second quarter.

The question was raised in the context of India’s largest broadband provider Reliance Jio’s acquisition of two of India’s largest cable feed providers.

Jio is expected to soon roll-out its broadband-plus offering that will include a TV service where users can pause and rewind live channels and watch previous episodes of programs, in addition video-on-demand.

The offering, which is expected to be priced as low as Rs 500 per month and likely to include a certain amount of free Internet access, is expected to deal a blow to cable and DTH providers in the 1,500 cities where it will be launched initially.

Cable and DTH operators will have to offer broadband services, or at least tie-up with broadband service providers to beat back competition from the service.

Dish TV has already said it is planning to push out upgrades to about 4 mln of its customers to enable their set-top boxes to support the kind of features that Jio is planning to offer — such pause, rewind and video-on-demand.

Over-the-air upgrades to enable such features on Dish TV boxes will happen by December, the company said.

However, enabling the features on the box is only part of the solution.

For the new features to work, the box has to be connected to a cheap, high-speed internet connection.

It is here that a tie-up with broadband players such as Bharti Airtel, BSNL, You Broadband, Excitel and Spectra makes sense.

As part of such a tie-up, broadband customers of companies like Spectra and Excitel could end up getting free, advanced Dish TV connection, including features such as video-on-demand and pause and rewind.

While the ‘live’ channels will be supplied via the satellite, other features — such as pause, rewind and video-on-demand — will be supplied from Dish TV’s servers via the broadband connection.

This will benefit both players.

On the one hand, it will enable broadband providers like Spectra to match the IPTV offerings of Reliance Jio without making any additional investment into movie rights, negotiating with channels and broadcasters and setting up content servers. On the other hand, it will help DTH players like Dish TV — who already have content and broadcasting rights and set-top-boxes — to continue to remain relevant and offer the features provided by Jio GigaFiber service.

DISH TV – SITI CABLE MERGER?

The company also addressed questions on the possibility of merging the DTH unit with the group cable company Siti Cable.

“We are always open to good opportunities,” CEO Anil Dua said, adding that even if something like that is possible, it wouldn’t be discussed publicly.

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