Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV Merger Talks in Hold Yet Again Over Deal Structure

Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV merger talks have been ‘stalled’ yet again. To counter Reliance Jio and Tata Sky in the broadcasting sector, the second and third largest DTH operators in the country have been in talks of merging operations. However, for the second time, we are hearing the talks are put in the hold between the two parties over the deal structure. A new Bloomberg report says Dish TV is looking for an all-cash deal, whereas the DTH arm of Bharti Airtel is interested in having a share deal. Back in July 2019, it was reported that the talks between two parties fell apart, only to reinitiate in December 2019. For now, it seems like the merger of Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV will be delayed further, which means Tata Sky will continue as the leading DTH service provider for now.

Dish TV and Airtel Digital TV Merger Talks Stalled Again

At the end of September 2019, Dish TV is the second largest DTH operator in India sitting marginally behind Tata Sky. Dish TV had a market share of 31.23%, whereas the same for Tata Sky was 31.61%. Dish TV could retain its lost spot in the December quarter, but the merger with Airtel Digital TV will cement its position at the top spot. For the unaware, Dish TV even acquired Videcon D2h a couple of years ago to become the market leader.

Talking about Airtel Digital TV, the operator had a market share of 23.39%. So combined, the merged entity will have over 50% market share which makes it the largest DTH operator not only in India but across the world. Dish TV is fully owned by Essel Group and it’s looking for an all-cash deal with Airtel Digital TV; But the latter is looking to for an all-stock merger, which Dish TV is unwilling to have. As a result of this, the merger talks have been stalled yet again.

It will be interesting to see when the merger will happen between the top DTH operators.

Total Pay DTH Operators Count Reduced to 4 in India

The Trai Performance Report for the July-September 2019 quarter revealed that the total pay DTH operators count in India has been reduced to four from the previous five. Independent TV has closed its operations in Q3 2019 which means we now have just Tata Sky, Dish TV, Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct as the country’s pay DTH operators. Earlier, the number used to be six, but the Dish TV acquisition of Videocon D2h reduced the number to five. Back then, Reliance Big TV was also a DTH operator, but the management changed the name to Independent TV only to shut it down in 2019.

Reliance Jio is going aggressive in the broadcasting sector as the company already acquired Hathway and Den Networks to challenge the top DTH operators. Reliance Jio was initially said to enter the DTH segment with its own service, but later on, it decided to acquire Cable TV operators to offer Cable TV services with its 4K Set-Top Box. For those who are unaware, Jio Set-Top Box does not come bundled with a DTH or Cable TV connection at the moment as subscribers will have to choose a separate connection from the LCOs.

Arpit Sharma

Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.

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Arpit Sharma