Friday, August 18, 2006

Digital Broadcasters|TATA Sky India JV On-Air

In case you missed it, I nearly did, the 80:20 digital broadcaster joint venture in India between TATA and STAR, launched its Tata Sky satellite television program platform across 300 cities August 8.

The direct-to-home (DTH) digital satellite service using set top boxes offers channels from STAR, Sony, Discovery, Disney, MTV, NDTV, ESPN STAR Sports, National Geographic, Eenadu, TV Today and Asianet. More channels are to come.

Vikram Kaushik, CEO at Tata Sky has described the digital TV service as revolutionary enabling its TV subscribers to control the way they watch television through a host of interactive services such as an on- screen program guide, branded as "Actve" - Actve Sports, Actve STAR News, Actve Newsroom and Actve Khabar.

Mr Kaushik confidently said: “By bringing satellite television directly into Indian homes, Tata Sky is set to change the way viewers watch television – with pristine quality, choice, convenience and control at their fingertips, delivered at a competitive price. We are confident that offering a television service that is second to none, while providing top-of-the-line convenient and efficient customer service to our subscribers throughout every contact point including sales, service and billing, will set us apart from the competition.

Clearly the DTH service is aimed at India's burgeoning middle class, now believed to be 30-50 million which can afford a set top box price of 3000 Rupees (less than USD100) with a special monthly subscription of Rs. 200.

Tata Sky has set up a pan-India distribution network of popular consumer electronic stores and mobile phone outlets. It has linked with LG, ITC International Business Division and Indian Oil Corporation as part of its distribution drive.

TATA Sky has trained a field force also of approximately 3000 people who will be complemented by a high-end 24x7 call centre, manned by multi-lingual customer service associates, trained to solve all customer problems.

It is worth noting that TATA Group is one of India's largest conglomerates and can mobilise a huge publicity machine in support of the digital broadcasting project.

At the same time, Tata can leverage the television operation with huge potential on-air exposure of a whole range of its enterprises and consumer products at advantageous cost.

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