BIG TV is here

The launch of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group's (ADAG) direct-to-home (DTH) service-BIG TV DTH will intensify the battle for market share in the nascent but fast growing sector.
ADAG announced the launch of its DTH business here on Tuesday. The services for Reliance Communications' wholly owned subsidiary will be available on a pan-India basis starting Tuesday, but expansion through retail outlets will happen in phases.Big TV is the third entrant in the DTH arena, the competitors being Essel Group owned Dish TV and Tata and Star Group owned Tata Sky. Big TV DTH, which is targeting five million customers to begin with, seeks to capture 40% of the current DTH market in the next 12 months. Currently, there are 120 million television homes out of which 80 million are cable and satellite (C&S) homes and a measly six million pay-TV DTH homes, comprising less than 5% of the domestic television market.
In 2007, the size of the Indian media and entertainment industry was in the tune of Rs 50,000 crore, which is expected to grow to about Rs 1,15,000 crore by 2012. However, research reports reveal that in wherever digitisation has happened and CAS has been made mandatory, 25% of the audience has shifted from cable to DTH.
Anil Ambani, chairman, Reliance ADAG said, "The immense potential of a quality and value offering in the home entertainment market offers us a unique opportunity to tap the strengths and synergies of telecommunications and entertainment sectors embedded within Reliance ADA Group". Big TV hopes to capture the market by offering more than its rivals. While both Dish TV and Tata Sky initially launched their services in 4,400 and 3,500 towns respectively, Big TV will reach 6,500 towns.Both Dish TV and Tata Sky had 35,000 retail windows to reach to customers whereas Big TV will have one lakh outlets in addition to Reliance's has 2,000 plus branded retail outlets.Also, during the launch period, both Dish TV and Tata Sky offered 150-180 channels, but Big TV is offering 200 channels.In the next couple of months, the company will add another 130 channels. While the competitors offer five to six movie channels, Big TV will offer 32 movie channels.
Importantly, while both Tata Sky and DISH TV are available in mpeg 2 format, BIG TV will be available in the superior mpeg 4 format, which has the capability to support high definition television.Existing DTH operators are bleeding heavily due to increasing subsidy on set-topboxes (STB), which makes the gestation period in the business long. However, according to Arun Kapoor, CEO, Reliance Big TV, "Scale will help us bridge losses faster".He added that while other DTH operators had to either invest or outsource content and infrastructure, these elements are already present for Big TV .

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