Tata Sky to cut channels, packs for 7 million subscribers

Direct-to-home platform Tata Sky will cancel channels or subscription packs for about seven million subscribers from 15 June to retain them on the service as the covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns threaten wages and income and thus discretionary spends.

The move is aimed at retaining customers with monthly billing of Rs. 350 or less since the company has lost over 1.5 million consumers as users struggled to pay bills or failed to renew subscriptions amid the lockdown which has led layoffs and cut in incomes.

“We would like to help our subscribers rationalise their monthly Tata Sky bill by optimising their pack or channel selection. Our analytics engine will help identify the customer segment for this purpose,” a Tata Sky spokesperson said, adding that the company will give 15 days’ notice.

“Should a subscriber want to re subscribe a dropped channel or pack, he can do so easily by giving a missed call to a specified number. We believe this measure is in the best interest of our customers in this period of tighter budgets. Over time, we expect normalcy to return and pack subscriptions to follow suit,” the spokesperson added.

Almost 70% of five million subscribers who logged in to the Tata Sky website or the app in May wanted to either cancel subscriptions or reduce their monthly bills. According to a report, first published in The Economic Times, the company’s analytics team found that deactivation was mostly by subscribers with a monthly billing of less than Rs. 400. Tata Sky has identified 6-7 million of its 18 million subscribers who will benefit from the exercise and save Rs. 60-100 per month.

The challenge for DTH operators is graver given that there is hardly any fresh content on television as of now, particularly on general entertainment channels, with all television production halted since the middle of March and government guidelines on resumption with strict safety measures having only come in this week.

According to a report by TV monitoring agency BARC and data measurement firm Nielsen, television continued to lose eyeballs towards the end of the fourth phase of the covid-19 lockdown, with viewership growing 15% in week nine of the covid disruption period. This is the fifth weekly consecutive drop as compared to the 24% increase last time, the 29% rise seen in the seventh week, after 31% growth in week six and 40% in week five.

“This move makes more sense for DTH players as the ARPUs (average revenue per user) there are higher,” said Karan Taurani, vice-president at Elara Capital Ltd adding that as of now, local cable operators are not disconnecting lines if a consumer hasn’t paid dues. Multi-system operator, on the other hand, have seen an increase in the number of subscribers by 7-8% due to lockdown, Taurani added.

—Livemint

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