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Airtel brings Netflix, YouTube to TV sets; Can DTH rivals rise to the challenge?

Closely competing with the Google Chromecast, Bharti Airtel's new hybrid set-top box (STB) can convert any TV into a smart TV.

April 13, 2017 / 01:42 PM IST
 
 
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While the cacophony in the telecom space has been making headlines, a silent revolution appears to be playing out in the direct-to-home (DTH) space. Bharti Airtel's newly-launched hybrid android-based set-top box (STB) will bring in the likes of Netflix, YouTube and many such video-streaming sites straight into our living rooms.

Closely competing with the Google Chromecast, this new hybrid STB can convert any TV into a smart TV.

The launch seems to have come at an opportune time as the country’s telecom players are falling over each other to provide data at the lowest possible price. The hybrid STB needs just that; high data speed at cheaper rates. A broadband connection or 4G hotspot with minimum speed of 4 Mbps are the basics for seamless streaming

Also, the advent of smartphones and cheaper tariffs have led consumers to increasingly shift away from the traditional modes of consuming entertainment and content only via television. Binge-watching of TV shows on online video portals has caught the fancy, particularly for the younger generation.

Other DTH players are not far from launching hybrid STBs, and this trend could spell doom for the traditional cable operators as well as the DTH players who are unable to upscale. As an article in the Mint today pointed out, the traditional DTH players which relay TV channels directly to consumer homes via a satellite dish, will face pressure from both the over-the-top (OTT) online video streaming sites as well as free services offered by Doordarshan’s DD Free Dish that is gaining popularity in small towns and villages as more and more TV channels go free-to-air.

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As the competition in the space firms up, the only saving grace for the local cable operators could be that most of them offer broadband connections too and the ballooning demand for data could keep them afloat until the telecom biggies swarm over them.

Also, it will be a while before consumers in the semi-urban and rural regions develop the taste for and get access to the OTT scheme of things.

Meanwhile, if the data war causes tariffs to harden then the urban consumer might return to his good old cable operator.
first published: Apr 13, 2017 01:42 pm
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