For over many decades, 'Krishi Darshan' on Doordarshan has been the farmers' best friend to get updates and other best agricultural practices in India. Taking this forward, Airtel DTH which is seeing good traction from rural areas, has decided to use the direct-to-home (DTH) platform to kick-start its own dedicated interactive service iKisaan, targeted at rural consumers.
"Over 60% of our new customers have been coming from outside of the top 300 towns," said Ajai Puri, chief executive officer, Airtel DTH. "Presence of large untapped geographies gave us the reason to launch our services there."
Launched in 2008, Airtel DTH currently claims to have six million subscribers and aims to double the numbers in a year's time.
iKisaan aims to give farmers the daily inputs required for farming besides providing real time access to crop prices, prevalent agri-input prices of say seeds, pesticides, weather information and localised farming advisory.
In its present avatar, farmers will be able to access iKisaan in the audio/visual format though the company plans to soon launch the improved interactive version with videos.
The project is being test marketed in the Hindi speaking markets of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand and Rajasthan.
Depending upon the success, the company plans to launch the service in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
Though still in early days and it is difficult to arrive at penetration rates for interactive services on the DTH platform, the market for such interactive services is known to be opening up.
"There are large underserved markets for such services which have to be built and marketed well. Though still in early days, initial results show that a good percentage of the overall subscribers will take this up," said Hiren Gada, director, Shemaroo. The company recently unveiled its interactive religious service, iDarshan, for the DTH platform and claims the response has been good.
According to market estimates, DTH subscribers' base in India is growing at a CAGR 18% and is expected to surpass 43 million by the end of 2012. The interactive services help DTH operators create stickiness and with a bigger subscriber base double up as a source of additional revenue.