Friday, May 2, 2014

Dish TV's Sri Lanka strategy

With Dish TV testing transmissions under a company known as Dish TV Sri Lanka, lets take a look at their possible strategy in Sri Lanka. It's quite clear that Dish TV has been testing some local FTA channels including some Pakistani channels indicating that this is part of a larger regional strategy. With Pakistani channels having no downlink permission in India, the easiest would be for Dish TV to operate the service using Sri Lanka since there is no permission required for any channel to downlink in Sri Lanka.

Dish TV we believe are targeting Sri Lanka and the Pakistan region at the same time, which explains why there are Sri Lankan & Pakistani channels being tested.

It's quite likely that Dish TV will only uplink Sri Lankan channels and Pakistani channels using Dish TV Sri Lanka and they will merge these with their present Dish TV offerings from India to provide a combined service to Sri Lankans as well as Pakistani subscribers.

The drawback to this is that 100% of the channels will be Indian feeds like HBO, AXN, etc unless Asian feeds of these specific channels are uplinked from the Sri Lanka centre, this seems highly unlikely and there is no indication of such a move. We don't know too much about the Pakistani subscribers but lets take a look at our Sri Lankan subscribers.

There are two types of Pay Television viewers in Sri Lanka, ones that crave Hindi entertainment and the other that demands Asian feeds of International channels. A majority of locals who have purchased black market Indian DTH services are those who crave Hindi entertainment and are not worried too much about the English entertainment channels. Some of these locals have subscribed to Sri Lankan pay services due to the lack of local FTA channels on these Indian providers, and are constantly demanding the addition of all local FTA channels and requesting more Hindi entertainment channels from local services. These types of subscribers are clearly to shift to services like Dish TV Sri Lanka once it launches.

The others also want local FTA channels from local services but are far more concerned about the quality of the channels provided and constantly demand quality Asian versions of channels which are generally commercial free. Sadly not all channels are available in this manner, Fox International Channels are withdrawing Asian feeds from Sri Lanka & are replacing them with Indian feeds, remember Star Movies Asia was removed and replaced with Star Movies India as part of a regionalisation move. The only Asian feeds available to us Sri Lankans from Fox International Channels is Fox Crime & Nat Geo People which may be replaced by the Indian version sooner or later. But not all Networks are following Fox International Channel's strategy, HBO & AXN still continue to offer Asian feeds for Sri Lanka & Universal which is not available in India is available in Sri Lanka.

As per Dish TV Sri Lanka's strategy it seems that they will be content to launch with all Indian feeds plus local FTA channels, it remains yet to be seen whether they will switch feeds of channels that allow Asian feeds and tap the market that demands it. That market is presently dominated by Dialog TV, LBN Cable TV & Peo TV. 

Recently Dialog TV ramped up their offerings with channels such as "Universal Channel Asia" & "Sundance Channel Asia", which will surely catch the attention of the subscriber who demands Asian feeds, this is in addition to some of the Asian feeds available namely HBO Network Asia Channels, AXN Asia, Fox Crime Asia, Nat Geo People Asia, Diva Universal Asia (no Indian version available), Cartoon Network Asia, Toonami (No Indian Version Available).

If Dish TV needs to successfully compete with local services, the market that demands Asian Feeds is a critical one. It all depends on whether Dish TV wants to provide Sri Lankans a service at a higher rental and make a quick buck or provide a quality service to locals. Success in India as a pay television service doesn't automatically translate to success in Sri Lanka. There is no doubt that local services will fight it out and will not easily allow Dish TV to dominate the market they created.

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