Dish TV, Airtel Digital TV plan mega merger to take on Reliance Jio: Report

MUMBAI: Bharti Airtel-owned Bharti Telemedia and Dish TV are planning a mega merger of their direct to home (DTH) businesses in the TV distribution space.

According to a report by The Economic Times, Bharti Telemedia is planning to merge its DTH business Airtel Digital TV with Dish TV to compete with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio.

Ambani’s Jio has entered the TV distribution space with the acquisition of controlling stakes in cable TV companies Hathway Cable and Datacom and DEN Networks. The company also has got a stake in GTPL Hathway courtesy its stake acquisition in Hathway.

The merger, if it goes through, would create a TV distribution behemoth which will have over 38.6 million subscribers and a 63% share of the DTH market in India.

Currently, Dish TV India is biggest TV distribution company in the country with 23.6 million subscribers, as on 31st December 2018.

“The talks are at an exploratory stage. Idea is to consolidate operations and give a strong fight to Reliance Jio. Together, Airtel Digital TV and Dish TV will be a giant,” a source with direct knowledge of the development told the pink paper.

It is pertinent to note that Bharti Airtel had earlier initiated talks with rival Tata Sky to merge their DTH businesses. However, the deal didn’t fructify.

According to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) performance indicator report for Q2 FY19, Dish TV India’s market share stood at 41% followed by Tata Sky (25%), Airtel Digital TV (22%), Sun Direct (11%), and Reliance Digital TV (1%).