Dish TV, India’s oldest direct-to-home service, has started using the satellite feed of Videocon D2h for its new customers in South India, more or less doubling the number of South Indian channels available on the platform.
With this, the number of Tamil channels on Dish TV has jumped to 88, including 4 in HD, compared to 33 earlier, including 3 HD channels.
Similarly, the number of Malayalam channels on the platform has jumped to 42 from 27 earlier. In this are 3 HD channels, compared to just 1 before.
Similar increases are available for Kannada and Telugu viewers of Dish TV as well.
However, the new packs, which will be available starting from today, will come with new prices.
For now, these expanded packs are being sold only to new customers, as they can be availed only if the dish antenna is pointed towards the 88-degree longitude satellite location to catch the Videocon D2h signal.
Currently, all existing Dish TV customers — in the North and the South — have their dish antennas pointed towards the older, 95-degree location.
From today, Dish TV technicians in South India have been instructed to install all new dish antennas in the 88-degree direction to enable these customers to get the bigger packs.
It is not clear whether existing customers of Dish TV in South India can view the expanded number of channels by manually changing the alignment of their dish antennas from 95 degrees to 88 degrees.
A realignment of the dish antenna currently costs Rs 250, but many South Indian customers are likely to be willing to pay that amount if it means getting double the existing regional channels.
It is almost certain that eventually, all South Indian customers would be given the option of having their dish antennas realigned to watch the new channels.
It should be noted that when an antenna is moved from its existing position to the new position, many North Indian and HD channels will become unavailable.
For example, Dish TV’s original feed (95 degree) has around 68 HD channels, while the Videocon D2h feed (88 degree) has only around 58 HD channels.
The move to shift South Indian customers to Videocon feed will help the company improve its revenue and earnings.
Prior to its merger with Videocon D2h two months ago, it had been suffering because of its heavy reliance on North and East Indian markets for its subscribers. In these markets, it has had to face heavy competition from Doordarshan’s Free Dish service.
Other players, including Videocon D2h and Airtel Digital, get a much larger portion of their customer base from South India, thus escaping the impact of the Free Dish service.
The move could also be good news for Dish TV’s North Indian customers as the shifting of South Indian subscribers to the Videocon feed will free up valuable spectrum on the North Indian feed.
This could help Dish TV increase its HD channel count in the North Indian market, and achieve parity with the likes of Airtel Digital, Tata Sky and Sun Direct, which offer more HD channels.