India’s third-largest direct-to-home (DTH) operator Tata Sky is in the final stages of negotiations to launch a Netflix-like service in India.
US -based Netflix is the world’s leading internet subscription service, which enables members watch unlimited movies and TV shows for a monthly fee of $8.0 (around Rs 355). Movies and serials are streamed to users over the Net and can be viewed on computer, tablet PC and television.
India is set to become the country with highest number of DTH connections in the world by 2012, edging past the US, according to a study by research firm Media Partners Asia.
“An announcement about the launch of a Netflix-like service on Tata Sky will be made in the next two-three months,” said a source close to the deal. “The talks are in advanced stages and both parties are very close to sealing the deal.”
“The Tata Sky+ HD set-top box has already got USB and ethernet ports. Users can connect to the Internet using the ethernet port,” said Vikram Mehra, CMO, Tata Sky. “For every port we add on the set-top box, our costs go up. We already give our subscribers a hefty subsidy on set-top boxes. We have to make these investments bring back some money to us.”
Tata Sky already has a movie-on-demand service called Showcase using which customers can watch a movie at certain set timings by paying a pre-decided amount. “A Netflix-like service enables viewers to choose movies and shows from a huge catalogue and the selected movie is then delivered over the Internet and is stored on the set-top box. You can view it as many times as you want and whenever you want,” Mehra said, refusing to comment on the new service that will be launched soon.
The service, however, will work only on Tata Sky set-top boxes that have the ethernet port.
Dish TV is the market leader in the DTH segment with 9 million subscribers, followed by Sun TV with 6.4 million users. Tata Sky comes in at No. 3 with over 6 million subscribers.