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DTH retailers also feel the exam fever!
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New Delhi, March 23 As the seventh direct-to-home service player, Videocon, gets ready to launch its service, parents are turning spoilsports — they are refusing buy until school exams are over.

This has slowed direct-to-home service sales; retailers of DTH services say that sales are down more than 50 per cent in March, mainly due to the exams, and partly due to the economic slowdown. “Subscriber acquisition has slowed 30-40 per cent after November,” says an industry source. Reliance ADAG’s Big TV claims to have 1.5 million subscribers but it, too, is believed to have taken a hit. Tata Sky and Airtel Digital, however, argue that sales numbers of the festive season or during October aren’t comparable since that’s peak season.

Retailers in Delhi, Ernakulam and Bangalore disagree. “Despite discounts, we still can’t push sales of DTH connections. There was a time when I was selling 200 DTH connections a month and would have been too busy to even talk to you,” says Mahesh Chawla, a Bangalore retailer. An Indore-based retailer of Big TV says he has sold a third of what he sold in December (The numbers at retail points depend on the distributor and the margins he stands to earn).

‘no slowdown’

“We are not facing any slowdown. On the contrary, TV programming consumption only goes up during an economic slowdown,” says Mr Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV. Mr Vikram Kaushik, CEO, Tata Sky, says that the economic slowdown hasn’t affected demand yet. “What we are seeing is a more price-sensitive consumer who is opting for cheaper packages,” he adds. The smaller towns today account for 30-40 per cent of Tata Sky’s new subscribers though they are a premium product.

According to Mr N. Arjun, Executive Director, Bharti Telemedia, all DTH services together are adding 7.1 lakh subscribers a month. He wouldn’t share monthly figures but says their service is now available in 4,100 towns.

Higher costs

The cost of the set-top-box has gone up by 20-25 per cent with the cost of the dollar. The cost of funds is also much higher today. “The industry is going to face very high promotional pressures,” says Mr Kaushik.

Videocon, which is all set to launch its service, is not put out by this. “Exams are only for a month. We will leverage all the collective synergies in the group for the launch since we are the largest TV maker in the country,” says it Director, Mr Saurabh Dhoot.

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