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Cable, DTH Players Overlook ARPUs To Retain Customers

DTH platforms saw an increase in recharges, clocking a billion transactions in the first month of the lockdown.

While several industries are staring at an uncertain future with dwindling revenues, broadcast distribution platforms, including cable and direct-to-home (DTH) service providers, expect to see a 7-8% rise in their subscriber base post covid despite lower average revenue per user (ARPU) as they offered deferred payment or cheaper pack options.

“There is no doubt that the lower end of the customer base has faced a cash crunch, those below the threshold of 400 per month, but we are still looking at a normal trajectory of subscriber growth,” a Tata Sky spokesperson said.

Over the past three months, Tata Sky subscribers have become more active, while new connection requests have revived in the past one month.

In fact, DTH platforms witnessed an increase in recharges, clocking nearly a billion transactions in the first month of the nationwide lockdown.

Subsequently, account recharges slowed down a bit, as daily wagers felt the crunch. However, the service providers soon discovered a targeted way to woo this segment, cancelling channels or packs for about 7 million subscribers to retain them as the covid-19 pandemic threatened income and impacted discretionary spends.

For instance, d2h, the DTH brand of Dish TV India Ltd, came out with a ‘Friends and Family Recharge’ programme, which allowed d2h customers to recharge for another, using the respective registered telephone numbers or customer IDs on its website and app. It also improved its ‘You Promise We Resume’ plan, offering a five-day extended recharge credit window to customers for 10 per month and launched the ‘pay later’ service, which allowed customers to avail the extended viewing period without any extra charges with just a missed call.

“These are testing times and to encourage people to stay indoors, the ‘Pay Later’ facility is our contribution to relieve their stress of stepping out to recharge,” said Anil Dua, executive director, Dish TV India.

Karan Taurani, an analyst at Elara Capital Ltd, said local cable operators, who were used to physical modes of payments, used the lockdown period to nearly double online transactions to take advantage of the situation.

Lack of fresh content was possibly offset by the return of mythological classics, movies and news.

“We have introduced lean content offerings which make it easy for them to maintain connectivity and keep themselves abreast with the latest in entertainment, news, infotainment and so on,” said Anil Malhotra, chief executive officer, SITI Networks Ltd, which also allowed quick recharges for customers on its website. Livemint

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