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Update: Three DTH players pull plug on ESPN HD, Star Cricket HD
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#1
The country's top direct-to-home (DTH) players Airtel Digital, Sun TV and Dish TV have pulled the plug on ESPN HD and Star Cricket HD just before the start of the much-anticipated India-Pakistan series due to a sudden hike in tariffs by the broadcaster. There are almost a million high-definition (HD) subscribers on DTH in India out of a total market of 50 million.

A DTH operator told TOI that ESPN HD, which used to cost Rs 40 per month, is now being priced at Rs 142 monthly, while customers who earlier paid Rs 40 for Star Cricket HD will now have to pay Rs 120 monthly. This hike they said is too steep for them to pass on to their subscribers. However, Tata Sky, Videocon D2H and Reliance Big TV will continue telecasting the HD versions of the sports channels. The India-Pakistan series starts on December 25 and has attracted huge advertiser interest with ESPN expected to rake in around Rs 120 crore.

Salil Kapoor, Dish TV CEO, told TOI, "This sort of increase before the start of such a series is not justified and we have decided to not carry these channels on the HD platform. Broadcasters need to be more sensitive about pricing although we are still hoping some sort of a solution can be achieved before the series starts." He added the adoption and growth of HD in India will be impacted with this kind of insensitive pricing by broadcasters.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/busin...715441.cms
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#2
According to a report in The Times of India, ESPN HD and Star Cricket HD have hiked their monthly subscription charges on the eve of the India-Pakistan series from Rs 40 to Rs 142 and Rs 120 respectively. As a consequence, Airtel DTH, Sun TV and Dish TV have decided to protest against the hike by not carrying the channel. However, Tata Sky, Videocon D2H and Reliance Big TV will continue to carry the channels.

In April this year, when Star India won the rights to all-India cricket in a BCCI bid for a whopping Rs 3,800 crore, Firstpost had written then: “Cricket will, for the foreseeable future, be ‘premium’ content that subscribers will pay for. To illustrate the change, let’s take this: “The number of direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers witnessed a growth of 62 percent in 2010-11,” says research firm ICRA. Currently, for example, on Tata Sky, Star Sports and ESPN charge Rs 29 per subscriber per month, Star Cricket Rs 25.

“The growth that ICRA reported, 62 percent, are all new revenue targets for Star India – and the more digital India gets, the more revenue Star could target. If subscribers do not pay, they do not watch – as simple as that. In the analog system, a subscriber might have paid – and Star might have received nothing from him, with the cable operator pocketing the subscription. In the digital regime, this is impossible.”

The rate hike is the first demonstration by Star that it will attempt to rely less on advertisers and more on subscribers for their revenues – especially for premium, original, exclusive content. In the early days of this battle, some operators might play hardball, as they have done now, and refuse to carry the channels concerned – but they’ve not factored in the subscriber in their decision-making. What if Airtel DTH subscribers, for example, are willing to pay the price fixed by ESPN HD and Star cricket HD?

This is the second instance of rights owners deciding to defy convention and charge a premium for exclusive content. “Kamal Hassan took a decision to release his upcoming film,Vishwaroopam,on DTH (direct-to-home) platforms eight hours prior to its release in theatres. In fact, Hassan is charging a whopping price of Rs1,000 on the one-time screening that will be available on DTH networks. What will be interesting to watch is if viewers will barter the theatre experience for the drawing room sit-back. Even if tickets for three often add up to Rs 1,000, one is willing to pay for the big screen and not a small TV experience. The large flat-screen that, perhaps, Kamal is targeting is a luxury that few homes in India enjoy,” Firstpost had reported.

The Kamal Hassan and Star India moves point to a new era for the television business in India, where premium, exclusive content will be available to viewers at premium prices. The protests by DTH operators are both misplaced and poorly thought through. If the consumer is willing to pay the premium, all the stakeholders in the broadcasting medium – the rights owner, the broadcaster and the distributor stand to increase revenues.

Think about it, DTH operators. The more consumers pay, the more you will make.

- article from firstpost
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