Bharti Airtel launched Digital Entertainment services platform “Airtel Xstream” three days before Reliance Jio Infocomm’s home broadband is set to go live, taking the big fight between the two telecom giant to the next phase.
Airtel Xstream platform will allow customers to access diverse digital content on a screen of their choice television, PC or smartphone with a unified user interface.
The content on Airtel Xstream will include live TV, videos, music, news & sports that can be viewed using an OTT (Over The Top) smart stick, an internet enabled Set Top Box and handheld devices.
Airtel’s offering is focusing to combat Jio’s home broadband service that analysts said could trigger another disruption, primarily in the urban digital TV and home broadband market.
Airtel unveiled two Android based connected devices an Xstream OTT stick and an Xstream 4K hybrid box – priced at Rs 3,999 each, that will make any TV a smart device. The hybrid box comes with a complimentary 1 year subscription worth Rs 999 to all Xstream content in addition to a month’s subscription to an HD Direct to Home Digital TV services pack.
Adarsh Nair, Chief Product Officer, Bharti Airtel said that, Airtel Xstream is India’s first converged entertainment platform that will cater to needs of a new generation of customers looking for seamless and converged entertainment across multiple screens at home and on the go. Airtel would bundle a customised Android based Set Top Box to deliver digital entertainment and fast broadband services in September.
Airtel’s entertainment service platform is a strong counter offer ahead of JioFiber’s launch signalling the telecom market is rapidly moving towards bundling a mix of mobile, digital TV, fast broadband and landline services.
Mukesh Ambani-led Jio’s home broadband plans which is likely to also provide access to apps such as Jio Cinema, Jio TV, Jio Cinema and music, besides gaming, video calling and virtual reality via its Set Top Box will be priced between Rs 700 and Rs 10,000 a month.
Jio’s promise of a free HD or 4K LED smart television along with a 4K Set Top Box to those opting for its yearly home broadband packs could be the game changer and induce customer churn at urban focussed TV distributors such as TataSky, Airtel Digital TV and Siti, especially with national Cable TV players Hathway & Den Networks already in the Reliance fold.
Latest regulatory data pegs the national DTH user base at about 73 million, with Dish TV commanding a 40% market share, followed by Tata Sky (25%), Airtel Digital TV (22%) and Sun Direct (12%). Airtel is said to have been in talks to acquire Dish TV to beef up its DTH play.
Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for broadband ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 1,000 a month, with 100 GB plans generating Rs 600 to Rs 1,000. Additionally, TV ARPUs are about Rs 200.
Airtel’s home services ARPU grew 1.2% sequentially to Rs 825 in the quarter ended June, while its digital TV services ARPU fell almost 33% sequentially to Rs 157 in the first quarter.
Airtel executives said that with the OTT stick, an ‘Airtel Thanks’ customer gains automatic access to digital content. Others need to buy a Rs 999 subscription to access such content, beyond the first 30-day free offer. Airtel Thanks is a rewards programme for select customers.
In the case of DTH, subscription to content is automatic and existing Airtel digital TV customers can upgrade to Airtel Xstream box by paying a flat Rs 2,249.