Bharti Airtel launched Android based set top box that allows any television to be converted into a smart TV, and comes with built in content apps including Netflix, YouTube and soon Amazon Prime, and Chromecast for viewing the content on TV screens.
The Internet TV enabling set top box will be priced at Rs 4,999 for three months and Rs 7,999 for a year, for new users, and Rs 3,999 for existing Airtel users, with content and TV channels bundled in.
Airtel’s new set-top box comes installed with streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube – and soon Amazon Prime – enabling users to view content from these sites on their televisions, in addition to regular TV channels. “It provides seamless integration of viewing online and offline content on a bigger screen,” Sunil Taldar, director of DTH business at Bharti Airtel, told ET.
“The early adopters will be existing content consumers who want to view the same content on larger screens… whether we sell through resident welfare associations, modern retail stores or consumer electronic stores, we expect high number of conversions to happen.”
The move may help the company increase average revenue per user, which stood at Rs 232 as of December 2016, with higher consumption of data as consumers start watching more video on the internet. A bumpup may also be seen in its fixed-line home broadband business, which at Rs 702 crore contributed 4% to Airtel’s revenue.
The company competes with Dish TV, Tata Sky and Videocon D2H in this space. “We’re in discussions with Amazon Prime to be pre-built into the set top box,” he added.
The product will be sold exclusively through Amazon.com starting April 13, for a month, after which it will be sold through offline channels including Airtel stores, where the service will be demonstrated for customers. The product will be sold through more online partners such as Flipkart and Snapdeal after a month.
The company, which will be giving upto 25 GB free every month to existing broadband users who sign up for the Internet TV set top box, feels that the product is affordably priced when compared to other services in the market.
For instance, installing chrome cast, HD TV set top box, HD channels subscription and costs of subscribing to online content platforms, works out to be around Rs 10,000 for a year. Sriram Sundresan, senior VP marketing, said that Airtel’s new offering is lower than the market prevailing prices.
The company, which is the second largest by revenue in the DTH segment, and No 3 by subscribers based on the 12.6 million customer base it has, as of December 2016, should expect more revenue from this new service, but added that the intent was to drive adoption first.
As of December, the company had a revenue of Rs 873.5 crore from DTH services, that was up 17.7% for the quarter on-year. Its Arpu from DTH stands at Rs 232, up 1.3% for the same period.
The DTH arm of India’s largest telco is aiming for consumers in the metros and top 20 cities that form the majority of internet content viewing base. “The addressable market is 30 million televisions and 10 million smart TVs in India,” Taldar added.
Going forward, the company will work with more number of OTT players, while talks with Eros Now are on for pre-installation and access to its movies base.
Airtel Internet TV comes with inbuilt-Wi- Fi receiver, Bluetooth based remote control and is integrated with Google voice search feature, which allows users to search for their content by taking into the touchscreen remote.
Offering a clutter-free and intuitive interface, the sleek Airtel ‘Internet TV’ STB is 4K content ready and enables LIVE TV shows to be paused, recorded or even rewind. It also supports content via USB (external HD) and Bluetooth. Customers can also cast, mirror content from mobile devices, tablets and laptops on to the TV screen.
The service requires minimum 2Mbps broadband speed or a 4G hotspot connection for a smooth online experience. A regular Airtel Digital TV dish antenna will also be a part of the installation. Existing Airtel Digital TV customers can also upgrade their existing set top boxes to the new boxes.