India’s largest direct-to-home (DTH) service provider Dish TV India reported subscription revenues of Rs552.9 crore in the third quarter fiscal 2014, an increase of 11.9% increase over the same period last year. Standalone operating revenues grew 9.9% at Rs612.8 crore over the year-ago period.
Subhash Chandra, chairman, Dish TV India, said the Indian television distribution sector is not completely out of the woods yet. “With more than 14 months passed post the roll-out of Phase I of mandatory digitisation, billing and other critical requirements have not yet been fully put in place by majority of the multi-system operators (MSOs). Though far too delayed, we remain optimistic about the completion of digitisation in its true sense,” he said.
Loss in the December quarter was down 14.92% to Rs38.2 crore as compared with Rs44.9 crore in same period of the last fiscal.
On factors impacting operating profit (Ebitda), the company management said, a translational loss – due to foreign exchange fluctuation – of Rs7 crore and an exchange rate adjustment demand for transponder payments amounting to Rs5.4 crore negatively impacted Ebitda of Rs135.5 crore.
Jawahar Goel, managing director, Dish TV, said, it was an eventful quarter for Dish TV with roll-out of the first of its kind ‘On Request Ala-carte’ (ORA) scheme on its platform. “While a reasonable content cost payout is well adopted, an unjustified increase in payment for content can jeopardise the existence of DTH in the country. With DTH continuing to contribute bulk of the subscription revenue to broadcasters, it is high time they get started on collecting their share of revenue from close to 5,000 cable companies apart from rationalisation of carriage fee payout,” he said.
With the ‘ORA’ scheme, Dish TV successfully completed migration of 22 channels of a content aggregator from respective packages to a-la-carte effective January 1, 2014. As a result these channels would now be available, without any extra charge, to only those subscribers who specifically request for them.
“The current trend of demand for these channels makes us confident of significantly rationalising our payout for content going forward,” Goel said.
The company added 2.2 lakh net subscribers in the quarter and continued to maintain its leadership share. Average revenue per user (Arpu) for the quarter increased to Rs166 from Rs165 in the previous quarter. Subscriber acquisition cost (SAC) was recorded at Rs1,889 while churn was maintained at 0.6% per month.
The company also paid off debt of Rs563.1 crore in the nine months ended December 31, 2013.
As for company’s Sri Lanka subsidiary, Goel said, the project is on track and test signals are planned for February end.
With the process for implementation of Digital Addressable System (DAS) in Phase III and IV cities already in process by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the government, the management feels it would give them a significant opportunity in the near future.
“We are confident of acquiring industry leading incremental share while still keeping a tab on the subsidy per box. We have planned a specific differentiated strategy to address these markets, details of which will be unveiled in the next quarter,” said Goel.