Airtel Digital TV’s average revenue per user (ARPU) has hit an all-time high, climbing to Rs. 207 in the fiscal third quarter and raising the question of whether customers are finally willing to pay higher for the television channels that they subscribe to.
Even in the trailing quarter Bharti Airtel’s DTH arm had reported an ARPU of Rs. 198, a new high. ARPU in the third quarter ended 31 December rose by Rs. 21 from the earlier-year period. The upward trend is an encouraging sign for direct-to-home (DTH) service providers who have been struggling to increase consumer pricing.
Market leader Dish TV reported a marginal increase in ARPU to Rs. 166 for the third quarter, compared to Rs. 166 in the previous quarter. Subscriber additions for Airtel Digital TV stayed muted in the quarter while churn rate reduced. The company added 235,000 subscribers, showing a 2.7 per cent growth from the trailing quarter.
Customer additions were driven primarily by festivities during the quarter, the company said.
Airtel Digital TV’s total net subscriber base now stands at 8.81 million.
After a quarter of lower operating profit, Airtel Digital TV’s EBITDA for the three-month period ended 31 December grew 50 per cent from the previous quarter to Rs. 97 crore ( Rs. 970 million). In the year-ago period, EBITDA was at Rs. 14.7 crore (Rs. 147 million). EBIDTA margin improved significantly to 18 per cent in the quarter, compared to a margin of 12.7 per cent in the preceding quarter or 3.4 per cent in the year-ago period.
Revenue grew 6.2 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis to Rs. 538.4 crore (Rs. 5.38 billion). Digital TV services revenue accounted for 4 per cent of Bharti Airtel’s total revenues, while EBITDA contribution stood at 2 per cent.
During the quarter, the company incurred a capital expenditure of Rs. 110.9 crore (Rs 11.09 billion) in infrastructure building for digital TV services.
Cash burn fell to Rs. 13.9 crore (Rs 139 million) from Rs. 39.7 crore (Rs 397 million) in the preceding quarter.