DTH is still a rural phenomenon: TAM

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | April 06, 2006
88 per cent of all DTH subscribers are from the rural market, only 12 per cent belong to urban India

According to & #BANNER1 & # TAM Media Research, there are around 2.26 million DTH (direct to home) television connections in the country. But, according to KS Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati, this number could be more if the grey market were also taken into consideration.

Around 88 per cent of these connections are from the rural market, only 12 per cent are from the urban market.

This was disclosed at BLINK, a special forum organised by TAM Media Research, at which the industry discussed the emerging mediascape with the implementation of CAS (Conditional Access System) and the growth of DTH.

The study revealed that the need for a DTH connection differs between the rural and urban markets. In the rural market, it has been seen that the majority of the subscribers are from the higher socioeconomic groups, R1 and R2.

In fact, the super rich and the rural rich contribute to around 56 per cent of the total DTH homes in rural India. According to Sarma of Prasar Bharati, DTH connections have become a status symbol in rural India.

In the urban market, the scenario is different. It is the lower SECs, or rather the great Indian middle class, which have opted for DTH television. SEC C, D & E contribute to around 58 per cent of the total DTH connections in this market.

The preference for service providers also differs in the two markets. While Dish TV has a larger share - 60.1 per cent - of the urban market, DD Direct has around 58.9 per cent of the rural market.

Similarly, Dish TV's share in the rural market is around 37.8 per cent, while DD Direct controls over 34.2 per cent of the urban market. So, overall, DD Direct has a larger share as it has a larger stake in the rural market, which constitutes around 88 per cent of the total DTH market now.

According to Sarma, the reason why DTH has been more successful in the rural market is because it has emerged as a strong alternative there. He said, "C&S has never been strong due to the lower density of population in the rural market, which results in distribution hazards."

It's also interesting that in the urban market, where most of the subscribers are from the lower SECs, the majority stake is with Dish TV, which is more expensive than DD Direct. Similarly, in the rural market, DD Direct has a larger share in spite of the upper SECs constituting a majority of the subscribers. This indicates that price is not a deterrent in the growth of DTH at this time.

This is why one can see that DTH subscribers are more in markets where the subscription cost for a C&S connection is standard - Rs 100-150 in the urban market and Rs 30-90 in the rural market.

The study also revealed that awareness of DTH connections has spread more through word of mouth, be it at shops or through friends and relatives both in the urban and rural market.

Sarma asserted that DTH has arrived and will continue to grow in the near future. He tried to prove his point by giving an interesting example.

He said, "Initially, when we asked for Rs 1 crore a year as carriage fees on the DD Direct network, many free-to-air channels declined because we did not have the numbers. But today, there are around 75 free-to-air channels that are ready to come on board and that too after paying that very same carriage fee. Unfortunately, we can accommodate only 35 more."

2006 agencyfaqs!