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Dish TV to form subsidiary for OTT biz

MUMBAI: Direct-to-home (DTH) operator Dish TV India is incorporating a wholly-owned subsidiary to start over-the-top (OTT) business.

The move is aimed at retaining customers by offering them an additional service. DTH operators fear that in the medium term their customers may cut the cord and migrate to OTT services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hotstar in the medium term. So, they are readying their OTT offering as an aggregator.

The progress of Reliance Jio is also compelling them to play the role of an aggregator of OTT services. Barely six months after launch, Jio crossed the one million mark in February and ended the financial year with 108.9 million subscribers as of 31 March.

“Jio has seen stupendous growth in subscriber numbers. The strategy adopted by DTH operators is to add an OTT offering to complement their traditional business. The fear is that customers would want a converged offering in future,” a media analyst tracking the sector said.

Dish TV and Tata Sky are already offering live TV services on mobile to allow their customers to watch TV content on the go.

DTH operators Airtel Digital TV and Videocon d2h have gone a step ahead and announced plans of a smart set-top box (STB) that would bring the OTT content to the TV screen along with the traditional business of offering satellite TV channels to their subscribers.

Airtel Digital TV has launched a hybrid called STB Airtel Internet TV which comes preloaded with Netflix, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Play Games, Airtel Movies and more. It also comes with access to Google Play Store, allowing users to download their favourite apps, content and games on to their TV.

Videocon d2h has signed deals with OTT players like Sony Liv and Netflix for their Smart Connect STB. This partnership will enable Videocon d2h’s HD Smart Connect STB customers to access a broad selection of content available on the app of OTT players.

On Wednesday, the board of directors of Dish TV approved investment in and incorporation of a wholly-owned subsidiary to initiate the OTT business.

“OTT requires a different team to understand the requirements of the customers and handle the business. Though not much of investments is needed, a subsidiary company would be best suited to take care of the business,” an industry observer said.

Dish TV did not specify how much investments would be required for the OTT business. Nor did it elaborate on the service offerings.

Dish TV could use the STB of Videocon d2h for this service. The Videocon d2h box will have to be made compatible with the software and subscriber management system of Dish TV.

“Dish TV could synergise with the box going to be used by Videocon d2h. That could be one of the benefits of the merger,” an analyst said.

Videocon d2h is merging with Dish TV to create India’s largest DTH company. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has already given its approval for the proposed merger.

The OTT offering will be available only to those customers who have taken the DTH service. There will be a small subscription fee which subscribers will have to pay.

It is not just the DTH companies but also the multi-system operators (MSOs) who are getting into the OTT game. Kerala-based Asianet Satellite Communications is the first MSO in India to have launched an app for live streaming of TV channels. National MSOs Hathway Cable & Datacom, DEN Networks and Siti Networks have also announced their OTT plans. DEN Networks is planning to launch open-source Android STB in Q3 of FY18.

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