Social networking freaks, housewives, students, farmers, kids and businessmen — these form part of the new target audience for direct-to-home (DTH) companies that are looking at a new VAS (value-added services)-based model to set their cash registers ringing.
So, while Tata Sky has introduced a device to turn the iPhone and iPad into a universal remote for television to help the subscriber network and watch TV at the same time, Airtel Digital has made the offering to farmers in rural areas. Most of these services are free of cost -- for now.
Gone are the times when gaming, cooking, contests and latest releases were the selling points for DTH operators. According to industry analysts, to fight limited profitability, service providers are designing a new VAS-based innovation model.
"Today, profitability is not the priority but the focus is to water the seeds of innovation in VAS so that a new revenue stream can emerge tomorrow," said Vikram Mehra, CMO, Tata Sky.
"This business is getting serious for us as well as for companies designing these services," said Salil Kapoor, chief operating officer, Dish TV. "Today our aim is to make the consumer addict of our free services and run after our differentiation factor. Paid services will come later."
The game has clearly shifted well beyond employing competitive prices, channel bouquets and high definition picture quality as key differentiators in the hotly contested marketplace.