Digitization: The Changing Landscape of Indian Television

By Venugopal Iyengar Chief Marketing Officer-Sun Direct

Venugopal Iyengar Chief Marketing Officer-Sun Direct

Headquartered in Chennai, Sun Direct, a joint venture between Sun Network family and the Astro Group of Malaysia, is an Indian direct broadcast satellite service provider.

Digitization is the biggest development witnessed in the television industry. The impact of phase one of digitization seems to be a win-win situation for consumers, service providers and government bringing a revolution in digital TV. By March 2015, the government plans to bring in the 120 million plus C&S audience in the country under the digitization umbrella.

The move of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting into the second phase of digitization to target 38 cities, aims to spur the wave of digitization across the country. The move is expected to be an asset for Sun Direct and we will leave no stone unturned to lure customers to switch over from analog to DTH service. Sun Direct's focus is on delivering maximum regional content keeping our strategy "Think Regional, Go National". True to this, Sun Direct also provides 11 exclusive channels and services which are not available on any other DTH. The coming year for the DTH industry is all about digitization and promises to be a challenging one by bringing in these urban households into the digital domain.

The DTH industry aims to strike a balance between providing enhanced digital experience with utility value and affordability.

Customers have a wide range of channels to choose from, advantage of paying for the channels that they want to watch and also get the option to block undesirable programs. The superior quality of sound and picture will also enhance their viewing experience.

The recent development in this industry grants viewers a whole new suite of TV viewing capabilities. For instance, technological advancements have enabled DTH players to introduce recording facility which provides wholesome entertainment experience for their customers. Viewers can have a control on the TV through functions like 'pause', 'record' and ‘rewind’. Keeping in mind, the growing technology upgrades in the industry, we can confidently say that these are the kind of boxes that any DTH player will be selling from now. Sun Direct also provides HD boxes with recording facility at no additional cost – a first in the industry.

Although the market is very competitive, digitization has innumerable advantages.

Converting from analog to digital mode has numerous benefits which include good quality service infrastructure, high quality interactive services, choice of set top boxes (high definition versus standard definition), quality and reliability, value for money, feed in multiple languages, niche content, flexible packages ( where the customer pays for what he wants to watch) and ensuring availability of customer support.

The impact of digitization will also mark a paradigm shift in cable distribution landscape. A key advantage of digitization is that it takes up less frequency space and also helps to overcome bandwidth scarcity. It would help the service providers to increase their subscription revenues, reduce dependence on advertisement and streamline channels and content. Also they will have a control in content creation, in-house distribution and routing, transmission and delivery.

Accountability and transparency in terms of subscription and cost are the key benefits for broadcasters.

The penetration of digitization is expected to have a pivotal growth in the economy. With government imposing service and entertainment tax, going digital will seem to generate sufficient revenue to shape up the economy.

This will also help the policy makers to achieve their broadband goals since operations will be more transparent and regulated.

Digitization is a big driver for the DTH industry and this drive will help Sun Direct to reach even the remotest of places in the country. DTH is expected to be the main beneficiary of subscriber growth and the recent announcement by the government approving a hike in foreign direct investment across all TV distribution platforms is a welcome move. Keeping this in mind, we also need to educate the users in getting the maximum out of their DTH experience.

DTH market is on an unprecedented growth rate and India is expected to become the largest DTH market in the world. Sound economic policies, increase in disposable incomes, spending power, television penetration and demand for quality viewing experience are the other factors attributing the growth of DTH industry. With an unparalleled escalation we aim to design our packages with innovative marketing techniques, cost effective subscriptions' and adoption of latest mode of technology.

It is clearly a much-needed move in the journey towards a better television experience and Sun Direct would certainly be looking to ensure we do not disappoint our customer as far as both product and service are concerned.

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