MUMBAI: ADAG and Bharti are gearing up for a massive on-air war that is expected to hit the tube in less than a month’s time for their respective DTH services. While ADAG’s BIG DTH has roped in the Bachchan family as its brand ambassadors, Bharti has signed Bollywood couple Saif and Kareena along with Vidya Balan and Madhavan, as well as Indian cricketer Gautam Gambhir to woo consumers.

According to company sources, Bharti’s DTH foray has been named Airtel Digital TV. The company has already begun a soft launch by offering the services to its employees with a one-time activation fee of Rs 2,000.

Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Big Entertainment (RBE) recently inked a joint venture with the first family of entertainment—the Bachchans—to focus on creating IP across all entertainment platforms, including movies, television content, live shows, mobile and online content.

The Bachchans endorsing Reliance’s DTH service is an extension of their partnership. When contacted by ET, Reliance Communication spokesperson neither denied nor confirmed the development. Meanwhile, Bharti’s DTH foray will be driven by Bollywood as well as cricket, as the company looks to launch its services soon. "TVCs will be aired in the next couple of weeks," company sources said.

With Aamir Khan endorsing Tata Sky and Shah Rukh Khan being the ambassador for Dishtv, the on-air war is set to be the clash of the Bollywood titans. With two new entrants and the current three existing players all set to go all out to attract cable viewers, DTH service providers are expected to cross the Rs 1,000-crore mark in terms of ad spends and marketing campaigns.

The category will now be in the same league as FMCG, automobiles and telcos. "Celebrity endorsements helps break the clutter, where spends can be optimised to reach a wide audience," said Dishtv COO Salil Kapoor. The high stakes game comes as the DTH market is a nascent market, with about 6-million households across the country. Compare that to the universe of 80 million cable & satellite households and one realises the potential waiting to be tapped, said Mr Kapoor.