Dish TV India, the country’s largest DTH network by number of subscribers, reported a 4.1% decline in its subscription revenue for the July-September quarter as the company showed signs of stabilizing from the twin impacts of a new system of TV channel pricing and a merger with Videocon D2h.
Dish TV completed the merger with D2h in the first half of 2018, but has been trying to stabilize and consolidate the operations of the two networks ever since, leading to a let up in the attention given to growing the business.
Meanwhile, even as it was getting its operations back on track, the TV channel distribution industry got overhauled due to the roll out of a new TRAI tariff scheme earlier this year, disrupting the company’s operations further.
As a result, even as rival Airtel Digital reported an increase in its average revenue per user in the September quarter to Rs 163 per month from Rs 157 in the preceding June quarter, for Dish TV, it fell to about Rs 125 per month from Rs 130.
This was in line with the overall decline of around 4.1% in subscription revenue during the quarter.
Airtel Digital’s rise in average revenue — an indicator of how much money an average customer was spending per month — was attributed to subscribers activating more and more channels, Dish TV’s decline during the same period indicates that the company has not been able to leverage or master the new tariff model yet.
Dish TV added only 42,000 new customers during the quarter, compared to 209,000 added in the preceding (June) quarter. In comparison, Airtel Digital added 180,000 new customers during the September quarter.
“Slowing subscriber additions due to a not so robust macro-economic environment, price undercutting by peers, along with heavy rains and flooding in many parts of the country made subscriber acquisitions and retention a challenging task”, the company, part of the Zee Essel Group, said.
“Prolonged monsoon resulted in recharge delays impacting subscription revenues for the quarter. The absence of big ticket sporting events like the Cricket World Cup also impacted subscription revenues and churn reported during the second quarter, as compared to the previous quarter,” it added.
REGULATORY CHANGES TO THE RESCUE?
Meanwhile, the company reiterated that the finetuning of the new tariff order by TRAI will ease the conduct of business for players like itself.
“TRAI’s recent floatation of a Consultation Paper on Tariff Related Issues for Broadcasting and Cable Services seems to take stock of the real world implementation of the Tariff Order and the glaring issues that have continued to exist in the New Regime,”it said.
Dish TV has not been able to offer as many HD channels as rivals like Airtel Digital and Tata Sky. It is possible that the changes to the tariff order could help the company drop junk channels, free up spectrum and offer more HD channels to compete better.
“Dish TV India welcomed the Authority for undertaking this exercise and while submitting its response to the Consultation hoped for a linkage between the prices of bouquets and its constituent channels as provided in one of the clauses of the Tariff Order. The Company strongly believes that the Regulation should be implemented in entirety and subscribers should not end up paying for unwanted channels.
“It is evident that even in the New Regime, there has been a propensity to push low rated channels into bouquets with the objective of increasing the viewership of high rated channels. If the Regulation gets implemented in entirety, there would be better pricing that would ensure wider consumption of channels. Content would be subject to subscriber’s filtration and as a distributor we would only be procuring popular content that sells,” the company added.