DTH has come a long way in 2014, getting a real boost from the MIB initiated mandatory digitization of cable TV. Started in 2004 with just one operator Dish TV, we have six private and one government funded FTA DTH service in India. With 64.82 million connected households, it offers best of the quality at par with the best in the world. What distinguishes a DTH service from cable TV in India is the multifarious value additions a DTH service provides to the consumer.
As the regulations in India ensure ‘must carry’ of all content on DTH, and adult content is a strict no no, DTH operators rely mostly on their value added services to lure consumers. This has resulted in the best of the technologies in the business made available to consumers at negligible cost. Whether it is HD picture, stereophonic sound or Video-on-Demand, our consumers have it all on DTH. Cable industry is still far behind to provide these services.
Tata Sky came in 2006 and changed the game as the company had the experience of Sky and money of Tatas and Rupert Murdoch to back it up. Tata Sky started having VAS or Value Added Services with Gaming and other interactive stuff right from the start. However, it was Dish TV who added Video on Demand first, way back in 2005. The customers paid a little extra to enjoy all they wanted.
Entry of Videocon D2H, Airtel Digital TV and Reliance BIG TV in the market heated up the competition in offering value added services. Innovative services like, Devi Darshan, Sai Pooja, Karaoke etc were introduced. SUN also did not lag behind but it concentrated more on keeping its strong hold on the large South India market adding channels of all South Indian languages, creating a monopoly in the region.
Videocon with its parallel business of manufacturing LCD TVs and set-top-boxes also launched DDB, a concept of smart TV clubbed with a built in STB for their DTH service. This ofcourse has not done so well as it ties up consumers to their DTH but the concept is now gaining ground as Internet is being combined with satellite service and new services are being created. Airtel Digital TV also provide internet connection with the DTH connection since the company is also a major telecom service provider in the country. They also started the concept of clubbing bills for all their services of broadband, telephone/ mobile and DTH service, making it convenient for the consumer who in one go, get hooked to many services.
PVR, DVR and cheaper version with a USB port where you can use your own hard drive to record and play the content are provided by all operators. Even some cable MSOs have introduced these innovations.
Value added services keep on developing according to the technology and programming that is available at any time and they keep on evolving as new technological developments take place. Recently both TataSky and Videocon have announced the launch of Ultra HD channels in early 2015, at the same time when Dish Network in the USA will be launching theirs. This indicates the sophistication of technology that our DTH players have achieved.
Future of the business is how these value added services will match up with the technology trends as the DTH started in Europe and US much before the Indians started. Some of the common value additions are described below.
iMusic. It provides many radio channels suited to all members of your family. The channels range from devotional, kids to regional channels. You can search for your favourite music by singer or film and hear instantly.
iDarshan. iDarshan enables you to get in touch with your spiritual side. Get access to prayers directly from the shrines, and view programs on Ishwar Bhakti, Devi Maa and Sai Baba Bhajans, and Gurbani etc.
Interactive content for Kids. These unique interactive service keep the kids busy in their choice programmes that even educate them. A child could enjoy stories, hobbies, songs, rhymes, math puzzles, science facts, quizzes and much more.
Actve English on TataSky makes anyone learn new words, correct pronunciation of difficult words, revise basic English grammar concepts and practice spellings daily.
iEducation. Learning in Physics, Chemistry, Biology & Math for class 9, 10 & 12 becomes easy for students when they see the videos and animations of the theorems and practical experiments.
Interactive banking. Dishtv offers Interactive Banking Service “ICICI ACTIVE” in association with ICICI Bank. This service enables Dish TV viewers to access information on ICICI Bank products and services, from the convenience of their homes.
News active. Choose from a mosaic screen featuring 8 specialized news options of Live news, Top stories, Sports, Entertainment, Biz Live, Crime, Special & Weather and you get updated.
Astro active. This enables access to your daily and monthly horoscope along with your birthday forecast by world renowned astrologers.
Cookery programmes. Variety of exquisite cuisine recipes from around the world are available on this channel on Reliance Digital TV. You also get to win Gift hampers like cookware and crockery.
Internet based Content and OTT
Dish TV has introduced Life Services recently. According to Salil Kapoor, COO Dish TV, “Technology innovation continues at a break neck speed and the convergence between TV and Internet is getting more and more seamless. Providing internet services on TV to reach out to masses across India is surely an effective way to enable anytime access to life services like travel, job search and matrimony. Through Travel Active they can search and book the best selling holiday packages, hotels, international & domestic airline tickets at discounted prices. Monster Jobs Active empowers job aspirants with thousands of employment opportunities and Shaadi Active service redefines the experience of searching for a life partner by offering thousands of marriage proposals. All these services can be accessed by just a click on the Dishtv remote in the comfort of home.”
Facebook and Twitter. With addition of internet enabled STB, social networking like twitter and Facebook is now available on your TV set.
TV Everywhere is the latest addition on TataSky’s platform. It creates multi-screen experiences through multiple devices using adaptive. It serves as a foundation for next-generation video experiences which are personalised, synchronised and social across multiple screens.
Future of VAS in the television world
Some of the upcoming technologies for DTH and cable were recently showcased by CISCO, world leader in AV and networking technologies that indicate what the future holds for consumers.
Digital Video Recorder, Over-The-Top Apps and more - Solutions that allow subscribers to restart live shows, catch up on past programmes, and schedule, manage, and play back digital video recorder (DVR) recordings from any device, inside or outside the home
Video Everywhere – A technology that delivers next-generation video experiences — personalised, synchronised, and social — across all subscribers’ devices, including TVs, tablets, PCs, mobile devices and games consoles
Videoscape Open API - A part of the Cisco ONE vision to help networks become more open, programmable, and application-aware enabling the development of branded applications through in-house or third-party developers
Advanced EPGs using OpenUX App Designer - Enables the developer community to create richer apps and EPG in a simple and faster way on the Service Provider’s platform
Connected Life – A cloud-enabled broadband gateway, allowing subscribers to manage their connected home using smart devices
Media Gateway – Multi-device TV viewing on Laptop/Android Tab/iPad within the home by connecting to broadband & Wi Fi.