DTH: Magical growth rate and sparkling opportunities

In the recent past India hasn't known any revolutions in its true sense; however that has changed with the introduction of DTH. It has transformed the face of television viewing beyond one's initial expectations. The direct-to-home (DTH) industry in India, currently standing at about 33 million subscribers and seven players is expected to soar to 45 million in 2014 and 58 million by 2020. This increase is expected despite the fact that the industry faces several issues such as high cost of acquisition of content and subscribers, and various taxes like entertainment tax and service tax. Although this industry is in nascent stages, the sector is growing at a fast pace with enormous potential for growth. According to research report by Media Partners Asia titled "Asia Pacific Pay-TV and Broadband Markets 2010', the Indian DTH market is said to be growing at a much faster pace as compared to other countries. India is poised to become world's largest DTH market with 36.1 million subscribers, overtaking USA.

Initially considered as something that would merely replace cable TV, not many would have imagined that it would revitalize India's journey to media digitization. Characterized by being wireless, DTH brought alive the dream of affordable home entertainment to rural households. The existence of dominant players like Dish TV, DD Direct, Tata Sky, Sun Direct, Big Digital TV, Videocon and Airtel have only enhanced the competition within the industry and this space is far from saturation. There is a complete untapped substantially potential market of 100 million household that have no access to cable or terrestrial TV.

Umesh Rao, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Reliance Digital TV said, "The DTH industry has come a long way since its inception. With cut throat competition and the ongoing price war, marketers are becoming increasingly innovative with their strategies to retain and attract more customers."

According to a senior official from Airtel, the DTH platform has also provided the advertisement space tremendous opportunities. It is now the obvious choice for brands to advertise and take advantage of this medium with its growing number of subscribers.

He further said that with an increasing base of customers Airtel was becoming the choice of many brands to use the advertising assets on our platform namely in the PPV section, the home page and the loading screen. "Prominent brands like Pepsico, Coca Cola, HUL, Yahoo, Tag Huer and more have been advertising on Airtel digital TV. Airtel digital TV currently provides the clients with a number of unique properties for advertising namely, Loading Screen, EPG:iFrame Home Page, EPG:iFrame Inner Page, Pay Per View and Red Button Application," he said.

Rao further agreed to the fact that one could be as innovative as one wished on a DTH platform in terms of advertising. There are lots of hard facts where DTH is concerned. It accounts for a third of the cable and satellite viewership in India. Further, research shows that DTH viewers spend more time on entertainment, sports and news channels than the average cable customer. "This has made advertising on DTH an exciting option for marketers. Home Screens- the default channel that appears immediately after a viewer switches on his Set Top Box provides a lucrative option for advertisers," Rao added.

"Companies can use this space for long format advertisements or event snapshots, an option that cannot be explored in the middle of a popular show. Besides home screens, marketers are also creating ads which integrate brands to value added services on DTH platforms. For example, Travel destinations can be marketed on iHolidays- the travel service option available on Reliance Digital TV. Similarly, Retail stores or Consumer electronics could be advertised using the iShopping service," Rao further explained.

This week we have seen how the DTH industry has evolved over the last seven odd years. Also we have elaborated on the kind of growth rate expected within this space. Apart from the immense opportunities this space provides, this article has also articulated the innovational freedom this platform offers to the advertisers.

Tune into this space next week for Part II of DTH to find out how VAS, technology and content make a distinct difference in establishing one player from the other. | By Janees Antoo [janees(at)adgully.com]

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