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DD Freedish earns Rs 85 cr from sale of 11 slots; Star buys two new slots

MUMBAI: Doordarshan’s free direct-to-home (DTH) service Freedish, with its estimated 22 million subscribers, continues to be a magnet for TV channels wanting to reach rural audiences.

The DTH platform has sold 11 slots in its 36th e-auction, including three news and 11 non-news slots, for a record Rs 85.1 crore.

The channels that have won the slots include Zee News, Zee Hindustan and News18 India in news category, and Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Rishtey, B4U Music, Bhojpuri Cinema and Housefull Movies in non-news category.

Apart from this, Star India has won two additional slots. The names of the channels are not available since the broadcaster does not wish to reveal its plans at this stage.

It is unclear whether Star is launching its existing channels on Freedish or new channels. The broadcaster currently has two FTA channels, Star Utsav and Star Utsav Movies.

Excluding the two slots won by Star, all other channels have renewed their slots.

While DD Freedish registered its biggest revenue haul from the 31st e-auction in October 2016, wherein it had sold 27 slots for a record Rs 129.3 crore (Rs 1.29 billion), the yield per auction is higher from the 36th e-auction due to higher reserve fee.

DD generated Rs 4.78 crore carriage fee per slot from the 31st e-auction, while the same is Rs 7.73 crore per slot from the 36th e-auction.

For the first time, DD had separate reserve fees for news and non-news channels in an auction. After hiking the reserve fee for non-news channels to Rs 8 crore, the pubcaster increased the same for news channels to Rs 6.5 crore.

The maximum bid for news and non-news channels is Rs 6.7 crore and Rs 8.4 crore, which is the highest individual bid in the history of Freedish.

“DD has earned a carriage fee of Rs 85.10 crore from the 36th online e-auction of vacant slots on Freedish. Total 11 DTH slots were auctioned. Out of these, three DTH slots were meant for news and current affairs channels with a reserve price of Rs 6.50 crore. For this category, the maximum bid received was Rs 6.70 crore. Eight DTH slots were meant for non-news and current affairs channels with a reserve price of Rs 8 crore. For this category, the maximum bid received was Rs 8.40 crore,” DD DG Supriya Sahu said.

“Two new non-news and current affairs channels of Star India, which were not on Freedish earlier, have also succeeded in getting the slots,” she added.

Due to its wide reach in rural India, Freedish has become an important platform for broadcasters to expand their reach. With BARC India measuring rural viewership, the importance of this market has only grown.

Broadcasters have seen huge consumption growth from rural India, with Freedish being a major contributor to this growth due to its large subscriber base. The ad revenues of FTA channels have also seen an increase.

Its 80-channel bouquet comprises entertainment, movie, music and news channels besides DD channels.

With the roll-out of MPEG4 STBs, the capacity of the DTH platform is expected to increase, giving its consumers a wider choice of content.

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