Bharti Airtel has become the fourth DTH operator to unveil a list of supported channel packages that will be offered from its network from February 1.
At 270 packs, Airtel leads in supporting broadcaster’s attempt to drive sales via the use of packs or bundles.
Dish TV had earlier given a list of around 204 packs, while both D2h and Sun Direct had given lists containing just over 100 packs each.
D2h and Sun Direct have refused to support Star India’s channel packs, and have supported only around four of Sony’s 30 or so packs.
The moves are seen as an attempt to drive down channel prices or at least get compensation from broadcasters.
Without support from cable and DTH operators, broadcasters like Star, Zee, TV18 and Discovery will not able to sell their packages, and will have to resort to selling their channels one by one.
However, selling channels one by one will require these channels to be priced in the range of Rs 1-5 per month. But broadcasters have priced most of the popular channels at Rs 19 (22.42 including tax).
They priced individual channels at a high rate, hoping that customers will therefore not buy their channels, but go for their packs instead.
Broadcasters love packs because when a customer buys a package, he gets to push more channels — including ones that the customer may not need. The more channels the broadcaster can push to the customer’s home, the more revenue the broadcaster can make via advertising.
However, the strategy is not playing out as they expected, with some DTH players refusing to co-operate with the plan.
Both D2h and Sun Direct, for example, have refused to support Star packages, while Dish TV is somewhere in the middle, offering around 200 packs.
By announcing support for 270 packs, Bharti Airtel has emerged as the DTH provider most friendly to the channel owners.
While Dish TV supports 58 packages from Star, Airtel Digital has listed 64.
Airtel offers 52 TV18 packs against Dish TV’s 50
On the other hand, Dish TV offers 27 packs from Sony against 25 by Airtel Digital.
Reflecting its strong subscriber base in the South, Airtel Digital also supports 26 packs from Sun Direct against 13 by Dish TV and 20 from D2h.
Meanwhile, Airtel also said it would carry 533 channels, excluding its own services, on its platform.
Out of these, 78 would be in HD, including all eleven HD movie channels in English available in the country.
Airtel’s channel composition makes it a strong contender for the urban market, though it is slightly behind Sun Direct when it comes to its HD offerings in South Indian languages.
Meanwhile, due to pressure from DTH and cable operators, several channel owners have come out with cheaper and smaller packs compared to their initial offering, including Sony.
|New Pack Info?||Network Charge|
|Airtel Digital||A-LA PACKS||130/20.34|
|Dish TV||A-LA, PACK & FTA|
|Asianet||A-LA & PACKS|
|Sun Direct||A-LA & PACKS||130/25|
|Den Networks||A-LA & PACKS|
|Siti Cable||FTA1 FTA2 A-LA PAY||130/25|