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Tata Sky unleashes new Ad campaign as countdown begins to mandatory cable digitisation

NEW DELHI: Drop cable, upgrade to Tata Sky," reads the latest ad of the direct-to-home (DTH) service provider, as the cut-throat rivalry between DTH players and cable operators intensifies in the countdown to the first phase of compulsory digitisation in the top four metros by June 30. "Your TV will continue to run on your inverter even during a power cut...isn't this a reason enough to choose Tata Sky over cable," says another advertisement, as the DTH major unleashes its third phase of print and out-of-home (OOH) ad blitzkrieg to lure millions of cable users in the top four cities to its services. 

Vikram Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer of Tata Sky, says the campaign is directed at educating consumers so that they can make an informed choice."Our latest print campaign tells subscribers to do their homework before they buy a set-top box (STB) so that they chose Tata Sky and not just some dabba (box)," says Mehra. It's not targeting any cable operator, he adds.With over 9 million subscribers, Tata Sky is the second-largest DTH service provider in the country, after Dish TV. 

Last December, Lok Sabha passed the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2011, which makes it compulsory for cable companies to convert their analogue system to digital in a phased manner from June 2012. Consequently, in the first phase of digitisation, India's top four metros-Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata-will have to replace all analog television networks with digital transmission from July 1, 2012. This means that all cable subscribers would need to get digital STBs in order to ensure that their TVs don't go blank. By March next year, as many as 38 cities across the country would be brought into the digital fold. 

High-stake game 
While phase 1 has around 10 million TV homes in the four metros, over 90 million analogue cable TV homes are estimated to convert to digital by the end of fourth phase in December 2014. Stakes are indeed high for DTH players who have a ready, captive base of millions of analogue cable TV customers, who just need to install a digital set top box in their homes. 

DTH is expected to grow at a healthy CAGR of 20 per cent for the next 5-7 years, says Abhishek Chauhan, Senior Consultant, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan, South Asia & Middle East. DTH contribution would increase to more than 30 per cent to overall the pay TV market, reducing the cable providers' contribution to less than 65 per cent, he says. While the number of DTH households in the country is set to go up from 37 million in 2011 to 86 million by 2016, digital cable would see its subscriber base jump from a mere 6 million to 75 million, according to a recent FICCI-KPMG report. 

The number of cable and satellite (C&S) households is estimated to reach approximately 176 million by 2016, of which paid C&S households is estimated at 168 million, representing 89 per cent of total TV households. In 2011, 146 million households in India had television sets; 119 million of which used cable or satellite services, says the report. 


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