TRAI Rules: D2h announces list of channel packs; Star missing

A day after publishing individual channel prices, D2h, formerly known as Videocon D2h, has published its list of supported broadcaster packages.

What is most remarkable about the list of over 100 packs is that none of them are from Star India.

Other networks, such as Times, Discovery, Sun TV and Zee are very well represented on D2h’s list of supported channel packages (see chart).

Zee and Sun TV are well represented with the most number of packages (see chart.)

It is not clear why Star packages have been excluded, but the most likely reason could be Star’s refusal to provide smaller, genre-focused bouquets, trying to force DTH and cable companies to buy mega packs that contain practically all the channels of the broadcaster in the language.

The problem with this approach is that a DTH or cable operator has to make available all of Star’s channels on its platform to support the packs.

This is especially difficult for more geographically focused players like D2h and Sun Direct, both of which are targeting the South, and to some extent, the East Indian market.

UPDATED STORY

As such, some of Star’s channels are not present on D2h’s platform, making it impossible for D2h to offer packs containing those channels.

This is bad news for both players, but especially so for Star as the company’s strategy is to try to force as many channels to consumers as possible via bouquets.

In pursuance of this strategy, Star has priced its channels relatively high, while tempting customers with bouquets that have been priced more reasonably.

However, with D2h not able to offer the bouquets, Star will have to either cut the prices of its individual channels or introduce new, smaller packs that do not include channels that are unavailable on D2h.

If not, Star channels will suffer from extremely poor penetration among D2h customers.

Sony too faces a slightly similar problem on D2h, as comparatively fewer packs of the broadcaster are available on this platform.

While Dish TV, which is focused more on the North Indian market, offers 27 packages from Sony, D2h is offering only 9 packs. This is because D2h does not have some of the channels contained in Sony’s packs, especially those targeted at North Indian audiences.

Instead, D2h offers most of Sony’s English and Sports packages.

It remains to be seen what will happen to Sun Direct, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital. The three are yet to announce their lists of supported packages.

TOO COMPLICATED?

While the original intention of the TRAI’s tariff rules was to simplify the process of subscribing to TV channels, a modification of the rules by the Madras High Court — together with attempts by broadcasters to force consumers to buy all their channels — has resulted in an extremely complicated situation with hundreds of packs to confuse the consumer.

While consumers could easily have dealt with the situation if they could simply choose the channels they were interested in, broadcasters have tried to ensure that this doesn’t happen by making individual channels considerably more expensive than packs.

In many cases, it would cost more to buy a single channel than to buy a pack that contains that channel. The broadcasters, in other words, have crafted their pricing strategy to force consumers and platform operators to buy all the channels, and not exclude low-quality channels.

The TRAI has approached the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court ruling that has led to the current mess.

You can also activate channels based on their individual prices, and individual prices can be seen here.

New Pack Info?Network Charge
Tata SkyNo
Airtel DigitalA-LA PACKS130/20.34
Dish TVA-LA, PACK & FTA
AsianetA-LA & PACKS
D2hFTA PACKS
Sun DirectA-LA & PACKS130/25
Den Networks A-LA & PACKS
Siti CableFTA1 FTA2 A-LA PAY

130/25
HathwayPACKS130/25
GTPL HathwayA-LA
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