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DTH services: Active subscriber base declines sequentially by 14.2 lakh in March quarter

Despite people continuing to stay at home due to the pandemic, Direct-to-Home services saw a decline in active subscriber base for the first time in five quarters, according to data provided by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

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The active subscriber base saw a decline of 6.5 lakh year on year from 7.02 crore on March 31, 2020 to 6.96 crore as of March 31, 2021. There was also a sequential loss of 14.2 lakh, from the quarter ending December 2020, where the active subscriber base was 7.1 crore in comparison to the March quarter of 2021. The data excludes DD Free Dish services, which are the free DTH services provided by the Doordarshan.

According to Isha Chaudhary, Director, Crisil Research, the active subscriber base fell for the first time, after healthy growth in the past few years, due to pandemic-led reverse migration from metros to tier 2-3 cities, discovery of affordable pricing in OTT platforms as well as the discovery of DD Free Dish, and a shift in cost consciousness from entertainment to health care.

Shift to OTT
Analysts believe that this is an indicator of the shift towards OTT, using the Internet for entertainment provision by the population. According to TRAI, as per reports received by operators, the total number of Internet subscribers by the end of the March-21 quarter increased 3.79 per cent to 82.5 crore in comparison to 79.5 crore subscribers at the end of the December-20 quarter. Growth in Internet subscribers for the rural market, in fact, outpaced the overall quarterly growth rate, where rural internet subscribers grew 4.7 per cent to 32.2 crore at the end of March quarter 2021 in comparison to 30.8 crore at the end of December 2020 quarter. Urban Internet subscribers grew 3.1 per cent to 50.2 crore at the end of March 21 quarter compared to to 48.7 crore in the December 20 quarter.

Of the 4 private DTH operators, Tata Sky has the largest market share at 33.30 per cent, followed by Bharti Telemedia at 25.54 per cent and Dish TV India at 24.09 per cent. Sun Direct TV had the lowest market share at 17.07 per cent. The Hindu BusinessLine

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