Pay television operators in India are continuing to grow digital subscribers at a rapid rate. It is the fastest growing pay-television market in the world. Five of the leading operators in India have reported combined gains of 2.26 million subscribers in the last quarter of 2015, according to the informitv Multiscreen Index.
Satellite service Dish TV added 317,000 subscribers in the last quarter of 2015, taking its total to 14.00 million. That is more than the unrelated DISH Network in the United States. Dish TV offers around 500 channels, including 50 in high definition.
Rival Videocon d2h gained 430,000 subscribers, giving it a total of 11.27 million.
Airtel Digital TV is just behind, with 11.11 million customers, having gained 530,000 in the last quarter of 2015.
Reliance gained 100,000 digital subscribers, taking its total to 5.00 million.
Other satellite operators include Tata Sky, a joint venture between the giant Tata group and 21st Century Fox, with an estimated 8 million subscribers, and Sun Direct.
Cable operators have also been gaining digital subscribers, as they migrate from analogue services.
Hathway is still due to report figures but currently has 8.70 million digital subscribers.
DEN Networks is close behind, having deployed 900,000 digital cable boxes in the last quarter of 2015, with a total of 8.50 million
The subscriber figures reported by Indian operators tend to be conveniently round numbers and there is little evidence of third-party auditing of subscriber data.
India is a massive market with a growing appetite for digital television services. A growing economy, with improved power supply and access to banking services, together with a push for digitisation, are improving the prospects for pay television in India, with an addressable market of over 100 million homes, and a further 100 million homes with no television.
The Indian government has mandated that analogue networks are to be replaced with a Digital Addressable System, or DAS. The process is due to be completed by the end of 2016.
The average revenue per user remains relatively low, but is steadily rising. For Dish TV it is around 170 Rupees, which is just $2.55 per subscriber per month. That is about the cost of a burger and fries in India, according to the Economist Big Mac index. The top package costs 500 Rupees per month, which is about $7.30.
Dish TV sells its satellite television services through a network of over 2,000 distributors and over 200,000 dealers, supported by 13 call centres catering for 11 different languages.
Jawahar Goel, the managing director of Dish TV, said: “Rising income levels, growing urbanization and favourable population dynamics instil confidence that India would be able to sustain high growth over a long period of time”. He said these are catalysts for the growth of satellite services.
Videocon d2h claims to be the fastest growing satellite television provider in India. It grew its subscriber base by 15% in 2015. It offers more than 470 channels, with over 40 in high-definition, including one in 4K Ultra HD, the first in India. The first Indian company to be listed on the NASDAQ, it is also the highest valued Indian company on that market.
The average revenue per user for Videocon d2h is slightly higher at around 210 Rupees a month, or about $3.10. The top package costs just over 600 Rupees a month, or almost $8.80.
“We believe we are amongst the fastest growing media companies in the world delivering exceptional performance quarter after quarter,” said Saurabh Dhoot, the executive chairman of Videocon d2h.
The informitv Multiscreen Index measures the performance of 100 satellite, cable and telco television and video services worldwide by their current digital subscription numbers.