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DTH cos' revenues boosted from Rural viewers
For the direct-to-home (DTH) segment, rural market seems to be a bigger revenue generator than the urban areas. Rural viewers continues to generate revenue for all the six private DTH operators.

Currently, of the 25 million DTH subscribers, 60% reside in rural areas and small towns. Also, the spread of DTH services is driving television sets sales, the new DTH operators said.

According to the new DTH service providers, including Airtel (BHARTIARTL.BO : 322.3 0) Digital TV, Videocon (VIDEOIND.NS : 227.25 -0.3) D2H and Reliance Big TV, around 65% of their new subscribers are from rural and semi-urban areas. Also, 40% of the DTH subscribers are first time viewers of cable and satellite services. For the established operators like Dish TV, Tata Sky and Sun Direct DTH, the ratio between urban and rural subscribers is almost equal.

"For every 10 subscribers that we acquire, six reside in rural areas. Also, most of the new DTH subscribers are first time viewers of cable channels," Bharti Airtel DTH director & CEO Ajai Puri said. Confirms a LG Electronics executive, "A large percentage of our 14-inch and higher dimension colour television sets are sold in the rural and semi-urban markets because consumers there have access to DTH services and, hence, demanding good quality television sets."

Tata Sky DTH service is witnessing growth in the rural markets. "At our launch phase, most of our sales coming from the top 10 cities. By offering a wide variety of news and entertainment options in different languages, we are currently witnessing over 50% sales outside the top 50 cities," a company spokesperson told FE.

For Dish TV, country's largest DTH operator in a six player market, currently 40-45% of its sales are from the rural markets as it has become aggressive in semi-urban and urban markets now. Initially, nearly 70% of Dish TV sales were from the rural markets, sources said. Even Videocon D2H, the latest to enter the DTH space, is adding more of its eight lakh-plus subscribers from the rural and semi-urban markets.

"Higher disposable income coupled with aggressive push by the DTH and consumer electronic firms are responsible for the growth of DTH subscribers in the rural area," said a top executive of a leading brokerage firm. "Also, the availability of regional language channels at low cost is attracting the rural consumers to DTH, something with Doordarshan has failed to do," the executive said.

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