Digitisation of India's cable network boosts ARPUs, STB demand

Rebecca Hawkes | 06-03-2014

The Indian cable and direct-to-home (DTH) TV industry requires around 140 million set-top boxes (STBs) to complete the remaining phases of the mandatory digitisation programme, according to the government.

Speaking at the CASBAA India Forum in New Delhi, Information and Broadcasting Joint Secretary (Broadcasting) Supriya Sahu said about 110 million STBs will be needed by the cable sector, while 30 million were required for DTH operators.

Positives following the first two phases of digitisation include a rise in average revenues per user (ARPUs), she added. In Mumbai alone, there has been a 400% increase in the number of subscribers and 300% hike in the collection of fees.

Sahu also said that according to data submitted by the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), carriage fee payment to multi-system operators (MSOs) has been reduced by 25%.

The government has, she said, fared well from the initial digitisation of the country's vast cable TV network.

"Tax collection from those areas [which have already been digitised] has increased three times. This could not have happened if the subscription base was not made transparent. The government has much to gain from digitisation," said the joint secretary.

Phase I saw the digitisation of cable networks in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, while phase II covered 38 cities, including Ludhiana, Hyderabad, Allahabad and Amritsar.

The remaining two phases target ten big states, which account for 77% of the cable TV households in India. These include Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.