SES predicts a Battle Royale for Indian subs

Deepak Mathur, SES’s SVP/Commercial for Asia-Pac and the Middle East, says that India’s seven competing DTH broadcasters are likely to add more than 25 million new subscribers between now and 2016. Today’s DTH numbers total more than 44.4 million (as at November 30 2011).

Mathur says that India is now the largest DTH “bastion” in the world, with a larger DTH audience than the USA. In an article in Indian Television, Mathur said India is setting the example for other developing markets. “Indian subscribers, for example, can get about 220 channels for three to four dollars a month. That includes 15 to 18 HD channels, VOD and DVR, along with distance learning and religious content choices.”

But he also predicts a “battle royale” between today’s established cable MSOs and DTH as the cable operators digitise their circuits ahead of a planned total switch-off of analogue transmissions. That switch-off starts this year in India’s major cities. With around 150 million homes to squabble over he anticipates a tough fight between cable and the assorted DTH players.

SES has a major stake in the future shape of satellite broadcasting for the region given that it is the host carrier for both Zee TV’s Dish TV (currently with more than 10 million subs) and telco Bharti AirTel’s 6 million DTH homes. SES operates from 95 degrees and 108 degrees East and is adding new capacity (SES-8) to cope with demand.

The prize is in the shape of 140 million pay-TV homes with satellite probably taking the lion’s share. Mathur suggests that by 2016 India could have 117 million digital homes (split between DTH, digitised cable and digital terrestrial). And that market, for once accurately reported without under-declarations, could be worth US$10.3 billion.