dth = freedom..?

The recent launch of DTH services by major players such as Tata Sky and Reliance Bluemagic is certainly good news for the Indian media industry. In a way, it could imply freedom to viewers on several fronts, pertaining to numerous aspects such as choice and quality.

This move certainly would enable the viewer to call shots given the pay structure, choice of channels and audio video digital quality.

This move expands the market which already had players such as DD who had been operating close to one year and has a subscription base of close to 8 million. Apart from DD, Dish TV is another player in the market which has a viewer base of close to a million viewers.

It seems that the writing is on the wall regarding the subscription numbers which state that they are only going to go one way, and that is ‘upwards’. A recent study by Insat released stated that suggested that the revenue will rise from $46 billion to $80 billion in 2009. Unlike DD which is a non subscription service, Dish TV, Reliance and TATA Sky would go for a subscription mode and thereby empower the viewer in the process. In this way, he would pay for what he watches and thus would be freed from the burden of having unwanted channels in his television.

This also introduces interactivity of sorts for the first time in the arena of television viewing. What today exists as sending SMS to channels has graduated with these services to a higher degree of interactivity. A glimpse of the same can be had from the interactivity introduced by one of the providers in the telecast of the Champions trophy in cricket, where the viewer can switch camera angle based on his / her choice.

The introduction of DTH would make the scenario interesting with IPTV on the wings. This means that the industry could look to some real stiff competition in wooing the viewers and this clearly means one thing, Viewer will be the king. The same had not been the case till now where the cable operator ruled the roost and was the last milestone in the delivery vehicle which started with channels went to MSO�s and ended with cable operators.

But with the channels now be being directly, the viewer would certainly not paying the extra dime to watch a channel he / she wants rather than what the cable operator shows. This also would imply that the cable operator would have to fight it out to retain their customers from shifting their base to DTH.

As of now not all channels are being beamed owing to the regulatory hurdles which the companies face. Reluctance of broadcasters to put their channels on all DTH platforms continues to elude the subscribers of the real benefits of the services. While Dish offers 130 digital channels, there are several popular channels, which is not part of its bouquet thereby depriving subscribers the option of watching all channels of their liking.

But some way or the other a way a solution would be found which would place the ball in the viewer�s court and empower the viewer further.

Freedom is here for sure to stay just that it would take time for people to realize its worth�