ZEE Group's direct-to-home television service, Dish TV, aims to get around 10 lakh subscribers by the end of 2005, which is only 2 per cent of the total cable and satellite population.
Sunil Khanna, chief executive officer, says, "If we can touch the 10 lakh subscriber mark by 2005-end, we will break even. And, if we can add 10 lakh subscribers year-on-year, we will be a profitable venture in the next four years."
At present, the channel has reached a subscriber base of 2 lakhs. Dish TV has around 110 video channels and 13 audio channels in its bouquet. Talks are on to include Sony and STAR in its bouquet.
While Khanna seems confident that Sony will join the bouquet by March-end, he isn't very sure about the STAR channels. He says, "As per government regulations on inter connectivity, no broadcaster can deny content to any platform."
Khanna also does not rule about taking the STAR Network to court, in case it doesn't agree to provide content. "It doesn't really make a difference, whether or not STAR joins our platform. The demand for niche channels and quality transmission will increase the popularity of direct-to-home television," Khanna says.
When direct-to-home television first made its entry into the Indian market, it was assumed that this service could be an alternate platform specially in the rural areas, where cable and satellite television had still not reached.
But, due to high entry cost, this hasn't been possible and DTH eventually emerged as an alternate platform for the SEC A and B. This segment of viewers form about 30 per cent of the total C&S population.
DishTV is now available at a price of Rs 4,990 which is inclusive of tax and installation charges. And depending on the number of channels one subscribes, the monthly rent would vary between Rs 140-300 per month.
The direct-to-home platform also has a special package for the rural viewers. The service is offered at an annual charges of Rs 6,590, which includes yearly subscription fees and installation charges. But this price also seems to be on the higher side and can be only afforded by the SEC A families of rural areas.
In February, DishTV was launched in north and east India. The west and south India launch will happen only by the end of March, 2005.
To feed the subscribers with niche channels, Dish TV has added two dedicated football channels, Goal TV 1 and Goal TV2 in its platform. Khanna says, "Even in a cricket-crazy country like ours, there are a large number of football fans. And they do miss out important matches as C&S channels always give first priority to cricket."
"Football fans in India can now watch the two 24-hour channels dedicated to the sport," he adds. With this addition, the total strength of television channels offered by DishTV has gone to 112. DishTV is targeting around 2 lakh subscribers for these two channels.
© 2005 agencyfaqs!