This year saw a lot of action in the Direct to Home (DTH) Television segment. Players were busy outdoing each other in an already crowded market. Unlike the previous year when DTH operators were hoping to simply establish themselves in a relatively new category, this year the fight was centered on technology innovation, High Definition content and of course price. HD and 3D were big selling points for most brands but we would go so far as to call them mere gimmicks. This is something we set straight even in out DTH comparison test and Zero 1 awards this year: there is a disparity in the number of channels that are actually HD (from source) and those that are upscaled and marketed as HD by brands.
Apart from this little sleight of hand, many of the brands did indeed come out with some useful innovations. We saw HD DVR (Digital Video Recorder) boxes from nearly all brands trying to surpass each other in terms of recording time. Towards the end of the year TataSky released an iPhone app that uses a custom hardware attachment (plugged into the phone’s 3.5mm jack) which enables the phone to be used as a remote control. There were also some social features packed into the app. TataSky also launched an innovative video on demand service called Catch Up TV. It lets viewers use their Ethernet connection to download primetime content and movies from their servers. Meanwhile as for the price war Airtel continued to undercut others with its comparatively limited cost of ownership.
India’s most trusted DTH Brand this year was hands down TataSky with a score of 82.09 per cent. The runner up was a distant second, going to Airtel DigitalTV with a score of 63.74 per cent.
- In terms of market penetration the leader obviously was TataSky, with about 40 per cent of our respondents having connections from the Amir Khan propelled brand. Airtel DigitalTV set top boxes comprised 26.17 percent of the market. However the third most popular DTH service was a bit of a surprise. One would expect first mover Dish TV to figure in the top three most owned services. However the third spot in terms of ownership went to Videocon with a share of 10.74 percent as compared to DishTV with 8.05 per cent and Reliance BigTV with 9.40 per cent.
- TataSky seems to be synonymous with DTH in India. It had an overall Awareness score of 92.36 per cent as compared to Airtel with 63.72 percent. For unaided recall 50 per cent of the respondents managed to think of TataSky when asked what they think of at the mention of DTH. Airtel had 20 percent recall while DishTV had 13 per cent. The rest didn’t figure as they had single digit scores.
- For aided recall both TataSky and Airtel fared the same with 95.97 percent of our respondents choosing both these brands. Dish TV had an aided recall of 91.27 per cent followed by Videocon with 88.59 per cent.
- This is the first year that DTH is being included in our Icons of Trust survey and hence there aren’t any historical comparisons to be made. However, some interesting inferences can be drawn. For instance, when we asked our respondents which brands are constantly improving and technologically advanced, the highest votes went to TataSky (over 75 per cent people agreeing). This is in line with the innovations coming out from the drawing boards over at TataSky.
- Owners of TataSky and Airtel DigitalTV seem to be happy with their purchases. Over 86 per cent respondents said they would recommend TataSky to friends and family while 78 percent said the same for Airtel.