Star India has cut the prices of English movie and entertainment channel pack by 29%, even as these channels struggle to regain traction in the market after the implementation of the new tariff order by the TRAI.
However, the company has still not broken out its sports channels into a separate package, and customers will continue to have to buy unrelated channels to watch the broadcaster’s premium sports offerings, or go for the expensive a la carte option.
The good news is that the price of the English movie and entertainment pack, called the English Mini or Lite pack, has been slashed to Rs 25 per month from Rs 35 per month for the HD version and from Rs 20 per month to Rs 15 per month for the regular version.
This is in line with what is seen in the market at large, where rivals like Sony and Zee too have cut the prices of their English movie and entertainment packs aggressively.
After demanding Rs 60-120 per month from subscribers who wanted to watch English HD channels after TRAI implemented its new tariff order, broadcasters started introducing smaller and more affordable packs within the first 50 days.
This was done after they found a drastic decline in the reach of their English language channels.
According to distribution tracker Chrome Data Analytics and Media, Star Movies — India’s first Hollywood channel and the most popular before the tariff change — is currently available in just 25% of the cable and satellite homes in India’s top six cities. At one time, Star Movies used to be available in nearly all the cable homes in India.
It should be kept in mind that the new prices will take a few days to reflect on the tariff cards put out by cable and DTH operators.
With the latest cut, Star has more or less matched its pricing with similar packs from Sony and Zee, but continues to remain more expensive compared to market leader Times Network and Turner (HBO).
Star’s ‘Mini’ or ‘Lite’ English pack is very similar to Zee Entertainment’s English Prime Pack.
Like the Zee offering, the Star movie pack also offers two movie channels. However, while Zee Prime pack offers only one entertainment channel (Zee Cafe), Star offers two — Star World and Star World Premier.
Both are priced at Rs 15 per month for the standard version and Rs 25 per month for the HD version.
Sony Networks also has an English pack, priced at Rs 12 per month for the regular version and Rs 20 for the HD version. The pack comprises the Sony Pix Hollywood channel, BBC Earth and AXN.
The most affordable offering in the Hollywood category continues to be those from Times Global Broadcasting. Times Network provides a whopping four HD English movie channels and four news channels at just Rs 20 per month.
Turner International too offers its bouquet of channels at Rs 12.50 per month. This includes HBO HD, Cartoon Network HD+, POGO, CNN and WB. WB is a Hollywood movie channel, but it does not have an HD version, while HBO comes in both quality.
Meanwhile, Star continues to hold fast to its strategy of not offering its sports channels in a package of their own.
Instead, customers will have to buy mega packages called ‘Premium Packs’ — which come with infotainment, entertainment and movie channels — if they want to watch all of Star’s sports offerings.
The cheapest premium HD pack is the English language Premium Pack, which is priced at Rs 100 per month, excluding network charges and including taxes. This package will offer all six sports channels from the group, as well as three reality channels and the Hollywood and entertainment channels.
There are other options too, such as the Hindi, Bengali and Marathi Premium HD packs that are priced at Rs 142 per month including taxes. The Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada Premium HD packs are priced at Rs 130. Consumers will also have to pay network charges in addition to the above content charges.
Star does not offer its sports channels in a separate pack as it wants to use its sports channels to drive the penetration of its non-sports channels. Under the current strategy, if someone wants to watch all the sports channels, he or she has to practically buy all of Star’s channels in that language market.