Direct-to-home operators are likely to add 8-9 million subscribers per year over the next three years as two listed operators, Dish TV and Videocon d2h, stand to gain big from digital conversions in the country.
“A 70 million analogue subscribers’ opportunity will unfold over the next few years as voluntary conversions continue. Regardless of the digitization deadline dates, DTH (Direct-to-home) companies will probably keep adding 8-9 million subscribers a year over the next three years,” says a Deutsche Bank report. The government has set a timeline to complete digitization in four phases.
Phases 1 and 2 covering the metros and 38 large cities (cities with over over million population) are already over. The Phase 3 deadline (all urban areas) is December 31, 2015 and the Phase 4 deadline (the rest of India) is December 31, 2016. “Looking at the progress of cable companies towards digitization, it looks likely that the deadline will be extended. We do not factor in any uptick in subscriber addition till FY17 on account of digitization,” the report said. Out of the 270 million households, 170 million are TV households. Within these 170 million, 40 million are DTH households, 30 million are digital cable households, 70 million are analogue subscribers and 30 million are terrestrial households.
The report observed that broadcasters prefer DTH companies as they get a higher share of revenue from them compared to multi-system operators (MSOs). “Since broadcasters get a higher share of revenue from DTH players, they favor higher DTH penetration. Broadcasters have entered into multi-year fixed cost deals with DTH operators. These are lump-sum cost deals, with single-digit annual inflation built in,” it said. However, it noted that broadcasters like Zee Entertainment and Star TV are pushing MSOs for higher payments. “This cost push for cable will provide pricing headroom for DTH. Historically, the ability of DTH operators to increase prices has been capped by cable prices,” it said.
Of the two listed DTH operators Dish TV and Videocon d2h, it said they can add 2.5 million and 1.8 million subscribers, respectively, through internal cash generation. “According to our estimates, Dish TV will generate free cash flow of Rs 360 crore in FY17, while Videocon d2h will turn free cash flow positive by FY17,” it said.