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Action hots up inside the box
A packed sports calendar for 2010-11 has convinced consumers to take home a digital set-top box.

When a cricket-crazy nation like ours starts counting days to soccer matches, or starts crossing out dates to the Wimbledon, you know why set-top box (STB) retailers eye sports fans with a renewed interest.

Around 21 million of the country’s 130 million TV sets use Direct to Home (DTH) services, while 84 million have cable connections. The DTH base is set to reach 30 million this year, courtesy the sporting events.

Confident that the rise in interest in global sporting events like the Indian Premier League, English Premier League and now FIFA World Cup will impel home viewers to switch to digital high-definition (HD) broadcasts, the DTH industry affirms it is set to grow faster in 2010. Consumers are responding — sales of STBs are being touted to be as good as the buying spree around festive seasons like Diwali.

Sugato Banerji, chief marketing officer (DTH), Bharti Airtel, says: “We have seen two seasons of IPL. The difference in subscriber base before the season starts to just before IPL begins is about 50 per cent. This March, we achieved the best sales after Diwali.”

Airtel DTH expects a renewed interest for STBs among users in select regions during FIFA 2010. “Kolkata, Orissa and Kerala will see an increase and we expect that the subscriber base will go up by as much as 75 per cent in the regions where football is closely followed. The trend would, however, be marginal in some of the cities where the sport is less followed.” It is predicted that there would be an upswing in sales of digital STBs among TV-viewing households in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad, too.

Umesh Rao, senior vice-president (marketing), Reliance BIG TV, who has seen Reliance STB sales zoom by 30 per cent in the first six months this year, agrees. “The sporting season kicked off with IPL-3 and so did STB sales. Just last month, we rolled out HD digital video-recorder STBs across top 100 cities, which further helped us expand our consumer base,” he claims.

Full Story: Indian DTH Blog

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