After being in the market for 13 years, Tata Sky finally became India's leading DTH service provider beating Dish TV. The former market leader, Dish TV, also adding new subscribers every month, but not in the range of Tata Sky or even Airtel Digital TV. Dish TV (along with D2h) may soon lose its place to Airtel Digital TV which is now the third-largest DTH operator in terms of subscriber base. Dish TV is trying its best to retain the subscriber base, but the real battle is between Airtel Digital TV and Tata Sky; The latter would be looking to extend its lead at the top of the chart, whereas the former aims the second spot. Airtel Digital TV loses the battle to Tata Sky on two major fronts- the lack of hybrid Set-Top Box and the Multi TV policy.
Airtel Digital TV Offers Hybrid Set-Top Box to New and Existing Users
Airtel Digital TV started offering hybrid Set-Top Box to the customers back in 2017 itself. Airtel Internet TV was the company's first smart STB that offered both Satellite TV and OTT app content. However, the company did not stop right there. In September this year, the DTH arm of Bharti Airtel introduced new Android TV-based STB called Airtel Xstream Box priced at Rs 3,999.
The Airtel Xstream Box runs Android TV 9 and comes with popular preloaded apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and so on. At the same time, it also allows the users to watch Satellite TV through the standard DTH connection from Airtel Digital TV. And there's a single remote for operating Satellite TV and OTT apps. The box comes preloaded with Google Assistant and there's a dedicated voice button on the remote, allowing users to do quick voice searches.
This Airtel Xstream Box is reasonably priced as well, however, Tata Sky is not offering any such product to the users at the moment. Tata Sky is providing a service called 'Tata Sky Binge' which provides every user Amazon Fire TV Stick Tata Sky Edition at a monthly price of Rs 249. However, users will have to return the Fire TV Stick at the end of the subscription period.
Airtel Digital TV Charging Rs 80 as NCF for Multi TV Connections
Another advantage for Airtel Digital TV over Tata Sky is the cheaper Multi TV charges. Tata Sky's major disadvantage is the pricier Multi TV policy it has in place. In fact, Tata Sky is calling its Multi TV policy as Tata Sky Room TV service and the DTH operator is charging Rs 153 Network Capacity Fee (NCF) for every secondary connection from the customer. For example, if a customer has two Multi TV connections, then for each connection, he/she will have to pay Rs 153 NCF every month along with with the primary connection NCF charges.
On the brighter side, Tata Sky is finally allowing its users to choose different channels on secondary connections. Earlier, this wasn't the case as Tata Sky just allowed the customers to mirror channels of primary connection on secondary connections. Even if a Tata Sky customer chooses one a-la-carte paid channel on the secondary connection, then the full Rs 153 NCF charges will have to be paid.
On these two fronts, Airtel Digital TV is ahead of Tata Sky. Also, Airtel DTH is providing better long-term channel packs to the customers. After the new tariff mandate by Trai came into effect, Tata Sky entirely removed long-term channel packs, but that's not the case with Airtel Digital TV as it's still providing six months and annual packs to the customers which are detailed here.