Market leader Tata Sky responded to upstart BIG TV from Anil Ambani’s Reliance ADAG camp on Tuesday by offering a Rs. 99 per month basic package that confirmed a serious price war in the direct-to-home (DTH) satellite broadcast business.
The price cut from Rs. 200 for a 91-channel package came a few weeks after BIG TV announced a Rs. 100 starter pack for 44 channels – and was somewhat in contrast to Tata Sky’s earlier position that a price cut was unlikely.
"We are not in the business of cutting prices but we want to provide more value to consumers," said Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer at Tata Sky.
The Rs 99-bouquet comprises 48 channels, including four general entertainment and two movie channels among others, and comes bundled with interactive gaming.
However, the pack does not include any of the popular Zee channels, which is run by rival Dish TV’s parent group. Dish TV also has a starter package at Rs 160 that offers 65 channels, excluding Star channels. Tata Sky had about 23 lakh subscribers at the end of July.
The DTH provider recently introduced a programming guide in Hindi to widen its reach and plans to introduce a video recorder service later this year.
“Our interactive services will differentiate us from competitors and we are exploring tie-ups with more content providers to enter into new content categories,” said Mehra. Interactive applications on Tata Sky attract about 18 per cent of total viewers.
Customers can expect more options at different price points and even better technology as players like Airtel and Videocon are expected to join the DTH race soon. The competiton will get even hotter once Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services are rolled out by big players like Reliance and Airtel later this year. DTH households are expected to grow from 3.5 million in 2007 to 25 million by 2012.