DTH operators Dish TV, Videocon d2h and Airtel Digital TV are in discussions to float a JV with equal participation which would enable these players to trim their content cost and demand higher carriage from the broadcasters.
The entity which would be structured similar to the channel distribution companies would enable the partners to have a combined subscriber base of over 25 mn.
Estimated to have 30 million subscribers today, the DTH industry today has six operators - Dish TV, Airtel Digital TV, Tata Sky, Sun Direct, Reliance Digital TV, Videocon D2H, and DD Direct. Four of these players--Airtel Digital (owned by Bharti Airtel), Tata Sky (a joint venture between Tata Sky and STAR), Reliance Digital TV (owned by Reliance Communications), and Videocon D2H (owned by the Videocon group) also offer mobile telephony services.
The Indian Direct-To-Home (DTH) market is expected to see its annual revenue grow over three times to more than $ 5 billion by 2020, as mandatory cable TV digitisation would help the DTH players expand their subscriber base, a study has said.
The active DTH subscriber base is estimated to grow from 32.4 mn in 2012 to 63.8 mn by 2017 and 76.6 mn by 2020. The active subscriber additions in 2012 stood at a mere 3.7 mn.
The Indian DTH industry is estimated to have clocked a revenue of about $ 1.5 Bn in 2012.
Media Partners Asia had reported that Dish TV continued to lead with a market share of 27 % in terms of gross additions, while Videocon d2h led in terms of incremental adds in 2012.
Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV have 19 % and 18 % market share, respectively. These four players together accounted for 88 % of total gross additions in 2012.
The ongoing digitization drive of the Indian government is presenting a opportunity to investors to cash in and telecom players to unlock the value of DTH business.
Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Communications is said to be in talks with South-based Sun Group to sell its DTH business for an estimated R2000 Cr(US$367 million). Similarly, there have been reports Bharti Airtel being in talks with Liberty Global and a couple of private equity firms to sell 25% stake of its DTH business.