Chennai: DTH Operators, Sun Direct has started giving free access to nearly all Sun Group-owned SD channels to their subscriber who activates the base packs offered by the operator that starts at Rs 200 per month.
With this offer, Sun Group primarily attempts to maintain the subscriber base of its DTH service while it will also help increase the viewership of the group channels as well.
DPO packs, the base packs designed by Sun Direct start at Rs 200 per month including tax, for the Tamil market, and Rs 225 per month for the Telugu market. For Malayalam and Kannada markets, DPO packs start at around Rs 210 per month, including tax. Subscribers of DPO channels will get free access to 25-30 Sun Group channels, which would otherwise cost about Rs 80-90 per month.
In addition to these free Sun group channels, even the cheapest DPO package will come with nearly all the popular pay channels in that market, including from the likes of Star India and Colors barring Zee Group channels, whose channels are found only in second tier (DPO-2) packs. For instance, the Malayalam DPO 1 pack, priced at Rs 210 per month, comes with Star Value Pack Malayalam, which costs Rs 46 per month, and TV18 Budget pack, which otherwise costs Rs 9.44 per month. Together, the price of these two bundled packs — Star Value Pack and TV18 Budget — comes to Rs 56 per month. This is added to the monthly network fee of Rs 154 to arrive at Rs 210 — the price of the DPO-1 pack. In other words, the nearly 25 Sun Group channels that are also included in the DPO 1 pack come absolutely free of charge.
While the offers holds good for SD channels along, DPO packs with Sun Groups’ 8 HD channels starts at around Rs 285 per month, indicating that Sun Direct is charging around Rs 50 for these 8 channels. In addition, the customer can activate any other a-la carte channel or broadcaster pack in addition to those in this pack
Sun Direct being the weakest of the six major DTH platforms in India with prominence in South India. A large chunk of its subscribers come from the Tamil Nadu market.
Despite offering its DPO pack at Rs 200, Sun Direct still lags behind Arasu Cable TV Network in Tamil Nadu as the state government-backed MSO charges network fee of just Rs 40 per month, while DPOs across India charge Rs 154 per month as their network charges.
This makes Arasu’s offerings much cheaper than that of Sun Direct despite offering similar number of channels. While Sun Direct charges Rs 200 per month for its basic Tamil DPO pack that contains almost all the popular Tamil channels, Arasu charges only Rs 154 per month.
Key difference being Arasu’s pack focuses primarily on Tamil channels, Sun Direct’s Rs 200 pack contains a mix of all the major channels of Sun Group across all languages, including Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi and Bangla.
In addition to being cheaper, Arasu also provides two extra broadcaster packages that are not found in the Rs 200 base pack from Sun Direct — Zee Prime Pack, whose original price is Rs 10, and Discovery Kids Infotainment pack, which is usually priced at Rs 6. The other bundles, such as Jaya TV pack, Colors pack and Star Value pack, are found in both.
The move to bundle in-house channels for free is not entirely unexpected, given than Sun Direct has traditionally competed on price instead of channel selection to beat back competition from bigger rivals like Airtel Digital and Tata Sky.
With prices being now determined by channel owners instead of DTH providers, Sun Direct has lost its major selling point after the implementation of NTO.
Sun Direct also suffers from a poorer line-up of channels, as the DTH operator has only around 55-60% of the number of channels offered by a player like Tata Sky. By offering in-house channels for free, Sun Direct has managed to offer all the basic channels required by the majority of its customer base within the Rs 200-220 price range. A similar bunch of channels would cost Rs 250-270 on platforms like Tata Sky and Airtel Digital.
The DPO packs structured by Sun Direct enables viewers in South regional market to get access to their favorite channels at cheaper cost making Sun Direct the South friendly operator.