Dish TV India has completed the merger of Videocon d2h to create the largest listed media company in India, with approaching 30 million television subscribers.
The merger has been long in coming, having been approved by the boards of both companies in November 2016. The merged company will be Dish TV Videocon.
Welcoming ‘D-Day’ when the two companies finally became one entity, Jawahar Goel of Dish TV India, said, “This amalgamation positions the new entity for exceptional future growth and profitability and puts on us the responsibility to lead the DTH industry in India to the next level.”
The merger paves way for the creation of the largest listed media company in India. Between them, the companies reported revenues equivalent to $936 million in the financial year for 2017. That is relatively small in global terms, but the subscriber numbers are significant.
According to the informitv Multiscreen Index, Dish TV ended 2017 with 16.10 million subscribers and Videocon d2h had 13.41 million. With a total of 29.51 million subscribers, that puts the combined company at the top of the top 10 services in the index, ahead of Comcast and DIRECTV. It will also have more subscribers than Liberty Global or Sky.
The AT&T group still has more subscribers in total, with 38.80 million, making Dish TV Videocon the second-largest direct-to-home satellite television operator in the world.
There are larger television providers in China, where China Radio and TV has over 225 million subscribers, although these are not included in the Multiscreen Index as they do not report formally.
The standard of reporting by companies in India also leaves a lot to be desired.
There are around 284 million households in India, of which 181 million have television and around 150 million have cable or satellite.
According to TRAI, the Indian telecommunications regulatory authority for India, India had around 92 million cable television subscribers and 63.61 million active satellite television subscribers in 2017.
The number of cable subscribers is based on a report by KPMG India, entitled Media for the masses: The promise unfolds. These numbers are apparently based on “industry discussions and secondary research”.
Frankly, it is difficult to know how many cable subscribers there actually are, in a country with an estimated 60,000 cable operators, with 13,273 multiple system operators registered with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Up to the merger of Dish TV and Videocon d2h, there were six satellite operators, the others being Tata Sky, Sun Direct, Airtel and Reliance Big TV. The merged company will have an estimated 42% share of the satellite market in India, or around 16% of television households.
Dish TV, part of the Essel group, started operations in 2003 as the first satellite television provider in India. Dish TV alone has a network of nearly 2,000 distributors and almost 300,000 dealers. It has 13 call centres dealing in 11 different languages.