DTH players must give Android STBs for free with deposit


Direct-to-Home (DTH) industry has been under tremendous pressure since users started streaming live TV content on their smartphones. Not only that, but the rapid growth of OTT (over-the-top) services and platforms has slowed DTH players’ business. To meet the challenge to some extent, the DTH players are also investing in building and offering in-house OTT platforms. Tata Play has Tata Play Binge, Airtel has Airtel Xstream and Dish TV has Watcho.

But these internal OTT platforms will not put DTH players back on track towards growth. As 5G grows rapidly and 4G networks are optimized to perform better, more and more OTT platforms and online streaming services will gain popularity. At a time like this, DTH players should incentivize Indian consumers to purchase DTH connections. One way to do that is by offering free STBs. This means not only that the STB is free, but also that the installation should be free.

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The amount a consumer has to spend today on an HD or a Smart STB, he/she can instead spend on a subscription to an OTT platform. If you go to Airtel’s website and see the price of the two STBs there, you will see that it says at the bottom that the costs are for establishing the connection. So in a sense, Airtel can claim that it offers the STB for free, but that will not be true because the customer would have to pay money for the installation. Yes, it’s a one-time cost, but it’s something that could discourage users from getting new DTH connections.

DTH players can instead ask consumers to pay deposits on the STBs that they get back once they’re done with the connection. Further, DTH companies should encourage users to purchase multiple STBs for their homes and offer the second connection completely free or with a 50% deposit.

This way the DTH companies would get cash and also could sell different services through the STB. The cost of DTH services is also going up as you read this. The introduction of NTO 3.0 has increased the prices of the DTH accounts. The rising cost of DTH services will certainly not help the industry.

DTH companies need to work on building models that allow them to upsell services through the STB a customer obtains from them. Older models that only offer channel packs will not work. Even Tata Play bundling OTT services with the channel packs is not enough. It’s actually confusing for many consumers as they have to weigh up what would be a beneficial purchase for them between different channel packages.