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M-pay new battleground for DTH players?
It will earn operators and service partners like matrimony and travel portals more revenue.

DTH operators have been tying up with service providers like matrimony and travel portals to distinguish themselves. tied up with Dish TV, Bharat Matrimony with Tata Sky, and Airtel tied up with makemytrip. The very latest tie-up, between Tata Sky and Atom Technologies, is altogether in a different direction, m-payment. The past tie-ups were more about interactivity and services, this one is more about convenience.

While analysts say that services don’t help much in getting new customers but help in terms of retaining existing customers due to the stickiness of the services, Tata Sky’s tie-up with Atom may work on one level certainly: The m-payment channel will offer a convenient mechanism of making payments to consumers.

Tata Sky CFO Atul Bansal says on the pact, “Our association with Atom Technologies for using the innovative interactive voice response (IVR) technology will offer more convenience to our subscribers by providing them with the additional option of making payments, adding top-ups and purchasing new Tata Sky connections.”

Dewang Neralla, Director, Atom Technologies, has more to add: “This will offer a new distribution channel to acquire customers rather than the customary dealer/distributor points.”

According to Neralla, today, DTH players are looking at reducing their distribution and collection costs. This is where a payment and service solution helps DTH players achieve these goals. The convenience it offers to their customers for making payments for their subscriptions or for that matter purchasing set-top boxes is a unique experience by itself.

“As a customer hits the DTH call centre for inquiry on products and if he wants to buy the product then the call centre agent can directly offer the payment option over the phone using Atom’s IVR payment system. In this manner, it helps get a greater call-to-conversion ratio from a sales point of view, which is very important to any service provider,” says Neralla.

Devendra Parulekar, Advisor (Services), Ernst and Young, agrees: “Such services might help the operator in immediately converting a person calling up to enquire about the product into a buyer.” When a person calls up to enquire a product, half of his mind is already made up, m-payment ease will just facilitate instant conversion and can save any diversion of his mind between enquiry and the process time of manual payment. He adds that it might become another trend with DTH players.

Such payment options might also increase the usage of services like matrimony and travel provided on DTH, as it becomes easy to subscribe through m-payment. If that happens, it will earn the operator and services partners like matrimony and travel portals more revenue.

Services partners like say that they could not evaluate any figures to comment on how the tie-up has helped them. But DTH players are still going gaga over the services.

Deepak Srivastava, CEO-DTH, Bharti Airtel, says that services have helped them in getting customers: “Whoever has experienced our iTV services has had one single reaction — ‘Wow!’ But this is just the beginning.”

Salil Kapoor, COO, Dish TV, agrees: “Services play a big role in gaining customers as these services are not offered by cable operators. Consumer usage data for services on DTH clearly show that there is a pent-up demand for services such as gaming, religious content like Live gurubani and Live aarti of Siddhi Vinayak and Shirdi Sai Baba, with families spending up to 20 per cent of their TV viewing time on these services.”

Dish TV has recently introduced a new technology that will enable multiple, independent TV viewing in moving vehicles. The technology mobile MDU (multi dwelling unit) allows DTH Mobile to set up individual screens in luxury buses, yatch/ships and train compartments.

Matrimony, travel and other tie-ups started a trend among DTH players. Now it’s to be seen how m-payment service will work for the opearator and if it becomes another battleground among DTH players.

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