Direct-to-home TV subscriptions are increasing by more than a million every month now, a figure expected to grow much faster on a friendly climate created by the government's keen push for digitisation and an increase in FDI limit in the DTH segment.
In the first three months of 2011, DTH subscribers registered with private service providers had climbed by 3.51 million — from 32.05 million to 35.56 million — in the December 2010 quarter, averaging more than a million every month. The DTH growth rate at 11% for the first quarter of 2011 is already much faster than even the fabled run of mobile telephony subscriptions, although mobile telephony is a clear leader by far in terms of sheer numbers.
Mobile telephony added 59.4 million subscribers in the three months from January to March 2011 to increase to 811.6 million, a growth rate of 7.9% from the previous quarter.
Government policy is also expected to favour further DTH growth. Digitisation will lead to hefty rise in revenues for broadcasters as it will eliminate carriage fees they pay to cable TV operators, substantially cutting cost of operations of running channels.
At present, carriage and placement fees corner nearly 20% of the total cost of running a channel. The government is also pushing for a hike in FDI limit in DTH from 49% to 74%.
For DTH, the growth was even faster between July and September 2010 with 5.6 million additions in three months. TRAI has obtained these figures from a variety of sources, but has mainly relied on data obtained from service providers.