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India to have 76.6 million DTH subscribers by 2020: Study

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India to have 76.6 million DTH subscribers by 2020: Study
The Indian Direct-To-Home (DTH) market is expected to see its annual revenue grow over three times to more than USD five billion by 2020, as mandatory cable TV digitisation would help the DTH players expand their subscriber base, a study has said.

"DTH industry revenues will reach USD 3.9 billion by 2017 and USD 5.3 billion by 2020. Revenue growth will be largely driven by increasing subscriber volumes," Hong Kong-based research firm Media Partners Asia has said in a new report on the Indian DTH market.

The Indian DTH industry is estimated to have clocked a revenue of about USD 1.5 billion in 2012.

Media Partners Asia (MPA), an independent provider of information services focusing on media, communications and entertainment industries, further said that the active DTH subscriber base is estimated to grow from 32.4 million in 2012 to 63.8 million by 2017 and 76.6 million by 2020.

MPA, however, added that the Indian DTH market faces several cost challenges moving forward.

"With conflicting growth forecasts between content aggregators and DTH operators over the active subscriber base, most of the content renewals from now on will likely be based on a cost per subscriber (CPS) basis, rather than on a fixed rate.

"This will reduce the benefits from operating leverage that the industry previously enjoyed. Marketing and staff expenses will remain high as the larger phases of DAS (digitisation of cable signals) rollout gets underway," it added.

As per the report, India's DTH players made a collective effort in 2012 to improve the per-subscriber economics of the industry, with launch of more DTH packages and entry-level pricing.

"Operators have also taken steps to keep churn levels under check by reducing trade margins and the free viewing period for new subscribers. However, gross subscriber additions remained relatively weak and growth in the active (paying) subscriber base has remained sluggish," it said.

"The active subscriber additions in 2012 stood at a mere 3.7 million. This is alarming as the gap between gross and active subscriber bases has widened substantially.

"As of end-2012, the cumulative DTH active subscriber base stood at 32.4 million subscribers versus 28.7 million subscribers in 2011," MPA said.

As per the report, Dish TV continued to lead with a market share of 27 percent in terms of gross additions, while Videocon d2h led in terms of incremental adds in 2012.

Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV have 19 percent and 18 percent market share, respectively. These four players together accounted for 88 per cent of total gross additions in 2012.

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