In October, India’s Bharti Airtel became the country’s fifth DTH operator and the second to launch in 2008 (after Reliance’s Big TV). With the satellites in place and the number of nets expanding, the five platform operators will have to scramble over each other to sign up subscribers before they run out of cash.
Analysts expect the country’s demographics to come to their aid. By 2020, two-thirds of the urban population is forecast to be under 40, and by 2050 a staggering 900 million people are forecast to migrate from the countryside to the cities.
Research firm In-Stat (a Variety sister company) predicts compound annual growth of 39% from 2007 to 2012 and for satellite subscriber numbers to balloon from 4.3 million to about 22.2 million during the period.
Cable also offers massive growth potential if problems like chronic piracy can be sorted out. Digital will permit more sophisticated services and more accurate measurement of subscriber numbers.
The impact of digital on theatrical film has so far been negligible or positive. For most, Internet connection speeds are too slow for viable downloading or streaming. But the expanding TV universe has included the launch of more specialized movie channels —
including two dedicated to foreign arthouse film.