The major Indian Direct-to-Home (DTH) service providers have reported a significant revenue decline in the fiscal year ending 2023, with combined losses reaching ₹2143 crore. The sector, which includes Tata Play, Bharti Telemedia (Airtel), Dish TV, and Sun Direct, saw its revenue fall from ₹12,284 crore in FY22 to ₹11,072 crore in FY23. Dish TV specifically reported a substantial loss of ₹1684 crore (INR100 crore = approx. USD12 million), largely attributed to exceptional costs linked to merger impairments from its Videocon D2H integration.
The industry has experienced a customer shift with over four million subscribers moving away from traditional DTH services in favor of DD Free Dish or Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms over the past two fiscal years. Experts like Mihir Shah suggest that these operators should now focus on enhancing High Definition (HD) and hybrid TV services to improve average revenue per user (ARPU) and retain customers.
Despite the overall subscriber loss, Bharti Airtel's CEO Gopal Vittal highlighted during the second-quarter earnings call for FY24 that the company saw revenue growth. This positive development was attributed to a strategic price increase and successful targeted strategies in specific markets such as Maharashtra and Gujarat, even though they lost 1.69 lakh subscribers.
As of the end of March, according to data from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were approximately 65.25 million active pay DTH subscribers. Meanwhile, DD Free Dish continues to extend its reach, potentially serving up to 50 million households.
In response to these industry challenges, Dish TV India is making moves into the digital realm by exploring opportunities in the OTT space. This strategy is aimed at broadening its subscriber base throughout FY24 as the company adapts to changing consumer preferences and a competitive media landscape.
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