India ranks highly in pay-TV subscriptions, lower in ARPUs

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 19 March 2015

India's Dish TV is the fifth largest pay-TV operator in the world in terms of subscribers, and the second largest in Asia after China's BesTV, according to a report from Media Partners Asia (MPA).

Direct-to-home (DTH) operator Dish TV has 18.5 million subscribers, followed by rivals Tata Sky with 14.8 subscribers, and Airtel Digital TV with 14 million subscribers. Indian multi-system operators (MSOs) Den Networks and Hathway claim 13 million subscribers and 11.7 million subscribers respectively more than US cable giant Time Warner's 10.8 million.

The fourth largest global player, the Chinese IPTV operator BesTV has 27.4 million subscribers, MPA said in its Media Route 26 India report.

All these companies trail the US cable operator Liberty Global, however, which by December 2014 had 23.5 million subscribers and topped the list of global pay-TV players followed by fellow Americans Comcast with 22.4 million, and DirecTV with 20.4 million subscribers.

Although pay-TV is popular in India, the country had a TV household penetration rate of just 62% in 2014, which is expected to increase to 63% in 2015. Of these TV homes, however, 80% subscribe to pay-TV services a penetration rate only just below those of fellow Asian nations Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which have pay-TV penetration of 100%, 89% and 89% respectively, said the analysts.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia had a TV household penetration of 60% in 2014, while in comparison 100% of homes have at least one television in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Australia has 99% TV household penetration and China has 97% a figure that is expected to rise to 98% in 2015.

Although India's pay-TV penetration is high, average revenue per user (ARPU) is much lower than in many Asian countries. Pay-TV ARPU is expected to increase in India to US$44.4 in 2015 from US$41.5 in 2014. In China ARPU registered US$59 in 2014, and is forecast to grow to US$62.6 in 2015. Australia raises the highest ARPU at US$1,131.1 for in 2014 but this is expected to fall to US$1,117.9 in 2015, said MPA.