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DTH industry adds 7 lakh subscribers every month
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The Indian direct-to-home (DTH) industry is adding 7 lakh subscribers every month compared to 2.5-3 lakh subscribers in early 2008. This is largely due to the entry of three new players and a price war between the five DTH firms, who are looking to bring on board new consumers.

As per estimates of two executives with separate DTH companies, the total subscriber base is expected to almost double to 1.9-2 crore by the end of 2009, led by increase in demand from semi-urban areas.

N Arjun, executive director, Airtel digital television, said, "The industry is adding about 6-7 lakh subscribers per month despite the slowdown. I believe the new players are contributing 65% of the total numbers added by the industry every month." He refused to divulge the company's current subscriber base.

Airtel digital TV, Big TV and Sun TV entered the market late last year and have expanded nationwide recently. Soon after their entry, DTH players claimed to have added around 20 lakh subscribers during the peak festival season sales in October-November 2008.

Ashutosh Srivastav, national sales head, Big TV, said the company has added 15 lakh subscribers since its launch in August. Currently the lowest monthly subscription package is priced in the range of Rs 100-125/ month.

Meanwhile the older players, Dish TV and Tata Sky continue to build their own subscriber base. As per market leader Dish TV, it crossed the 50 lakh subscriber mark in February, while Tata Sky claims to have hit 35 lakh subscriber level this month.

Vikram Kaushik, CEO, Tata Sky, said, "The economic slowdown has not impacted the subscriber additions for the industry. The only change one can see is that consumers are opting for the lowest or the basic package of channels."

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