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Videocon d2h to phase out SD STB manufacturing by 2016

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MUMBAI: Sensing a strong business opportunity, Indian direct to home (DTH) operator Videocon d2h is augmenting a new strategy. With the number of High Definition (HD) channels set to increase in the coming years, Videocon d2h, which also manufactures set top boxes (STBs), will be phasing out its Standard Definition (SD) STBs over the next year or so. 

Videocon d2h is looking at 50 to 60 per cent acquisitions in HD STB space from the current 30 per cent. 

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Video Operators Summit (APOS) held in Bali, Videocon d2h CEO Anil Khera said, “The cost of difference between SD and HD set top boxes for us is only one and half dollar.”

It may be recalled that as per the 2013-2014 annual report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the number of HD Pay TV channels has shot up to 34 in 2014 as compared to three in 2010. Indeed the HD feed is a precious value added service for broadcasters and DTH operators. 

Khera also shared some insights and trends that he has been witnessing in the Indian DTH sector. “In terms of gross adds, the market has been consistently growing and we have seen a growth of eight to nine million new additions in a year. Net additions has been a challenge, and the industry has been able to get net addition of five to six million. As far as the rotation churn is concerned how one retains customers and provides additional services, is a big challenge,” shared Khera.

Highlighting the biggest hurdle for the sector, he opined that carrying HD channels with a limited satellite bandwidth posed a grave challenge. Projecting that there would be at least a hundred HD channels over the next one and a half year, Khera said, “All the Hindi and English general entertainment channels and movie channels will have a HD and SD feed.”

A sizeable growth of electronic HD TV sets would compliment this trend further, he said.

Speaking on Over the Top (OTT) platforms, Khera said that they were not to be seen as a threat but rather as something that can compliment TV services. “However, one disturbing fact is that premium content is available free of cost to customers. If it becomes pay, then it will definitely help the industry because we pay a premium to buy the same content,” Khera opined.

He also said that the platform, which currently offers Bollywood movie channels on its video on demand (VOD) service is also in talks with Hollywood studios to offer English movies. However, he said that after rolling out its first 4K channel, it will now add Hollywood movies in 4K on the channel soon.

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