After three years of JioFiber launch in India, all the existing cable TV and DTH (direct-to-home) brands are completely losing their sheen. However, it has not impacted the revenues of broadband service providers, thanks to the latest Android smart TVs and ever-increasing viewership of OTT (over the top) video streaming platforms. As JioFiber services are now available in most of the tier-2 and tier-3 cities across the country, the demand for cable or DTH connection has come down drastically over the last couple of years. Only those operators which update their products continuously would stay relevant in this competitive world. Today, DTH industry is also witnessing survival of the fittest.
While some of the DTH operators have upgraded their platforms by foraying into OTT and FTTH (fiber to the home) space, others are struggling to exist in the market. One or two brands couldn’t even attract the viewers even after expanding their business beyond the DTH service. Affordability and better internet speed make the customers to shift to fiber service.
Tata Play (earlier known as Tata Sky),Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV and Sun Direct are the leading DTH operators in the country. Soon after the launch of JioFiber, Airtel Xstream Fiber came early into the market to beat the competition. This year, Tata Sky was renamed as Tata Play Fiber to create an aggregator app called Tata Play Binge, which hosts content from 13 OTT apps whereas JioFiber offers 14 OTT apps. Dish TV and Sun Direct are yet to join the race. Almost all the existing fiber service providers are offering similar OTT benefits, high-speed internet, and access to TV channels at rates under Rs1,000. While comparing JioFiber, Airtel Xstream, ACT Fiber, Hathway and Tata Play broadband plans, internet users see JioFiber plans as more advantageous over the packs of other brands. Its plans are available at as low as Rs399 a month, along with unlimited voice calling. However, despite rebranding and diversifying its businesses, Tata Play has failed to attract the customers. Though it is offering free installation, people are not interested to opt for it. “I have cancelled the Tata Play connection in August 2022.
I have not yet received the refund in my account balance. It has been more than a month. Till now, no one has picked up the setup box as well. This has been a very bad experience,” J Lavanya, a housewife from Himayathnagar, told Bizz Buzz. “Tata Play seems to have indulged in unfair practices. Without any intimation to me, my current billing cycle has been changed and my subscribed package tariff has also been hiked for more than twice. Even though many paid channels have been dropped from my subscribed package, the recharge cost remained the same. I called Tata Play customer care and complained several times, but there has been no solution. So, I had to shift to other fiber service provider,” says P Prasad, another Tata Play customer from the city. While DTH operators are losing sheen, people are increasingly shifting to OTT platforms. Uma Devi, a home maker who lives in Kondapur, says: “During the Covid times, we have taken broadband connection as my husband was doing work from home (WFH). As we are all able to watch TV programmes on OTT apps without the rubbish advertisements at the convenience of our free time, we have removed the DTH connection. Post-pandemic period, WFH ended, but we are still continuing the fiber service as we are all hooked to the OTT platforms. There is no point in recharging the DTH separately, while we are getting the more entertainment on the OTT.”
Not only in cities, the OTT players are edging out the DTH and cable service providers in towns and villages also. Particularly, rural youth are showing interest in fiber services to watch the content of their choice on OTT platforms. “Ours is a joint family. Earlier, there used to be a petty war for the TV remote at our home whenever there is a cricket match during the time of TV serials. With the fiber connection, each member of family is watching their favourite channel on their own gadgets without any arguments,” says Mallikharjun Yadav, an engineering student from Bhongir. Meanwhile, there are many memes appearing on social media over the plight of DTH operators. In one such meme, a woman was seen bathing her months-old baby on a dish TV antenna, using it as a bathtub. This clearly shows the pathetic situation of DTH industry. If it sounds unbelievable, just go to the top floor of any apartment in the city, and there will be many non-functioning dish antennas indicating the residents have already migrated to fiber service. With the arrival of 5G, the DTH players are likely to face the worst crisis. The Hans India