Tata Sky first in India to launch a Video On Demand Service, offering enhanced choice and flexibility.
The Indian Direct-to-home (DTH) market is the fastest growing in the world. By 2014, the number of DTH subscribers is expected to reach 50 million, making it a larger market than that of both North America and Western Europe combined.
In 2012, Tata Sky, one of India’s leading DTH providers, launched the country’s first Video On Demand (VOD) service with the aim of capturing the market ahead of the major cable operators and capitalizing on future growth.
For Tata Sky, the main challenge was that consumers in India have much less expendable income than in Western markets, where such services are already well-established. With Indian subscribers used to paying fees one tenth of those in some Western European markets, Tata Sky needed to provide the same world-class service at the lowest possible cost.
Yigs Riza, Chief Technology Officer, Tata Sky outlines a key factor to the VOD service’s success: “Scalability was obviously a critical factor because with a service like this in India you would expect a slow start to it. Our first 10,000 connections joined in the first month, and it was going to take a fair amount of time.”
India’s developing infrastructure also presented a number of challenges to setting up such a service. Tajinder Pal Singh, Acting General Manager, Broadcast Engineering, Tata Sky, explains:
“In India you find that the broadband is not more than 1.2 Mbps in every home, so providing good quality content to the end customer is very challenging. We spent around 7 to 8 months with Ericsson defining the quality, the network and the infrastructure so we could provide services smoothly.”
Ericsson has worked with Tata Sky for many years and has an established and trusted relationship with the company.
The company’s solution for Tata Sky’s VOD service comprised an Ericsson Progressive Download System featuring its award-winning Content Management System, Time-Shifted TV and Xport Producer products.
The solution is also among the first to feature Ericsson’s Media Delivery Network, a media-centric solution for the distribution, delivery and content management of linear and non-linear TV.
This system gave Tata Sky the scalability which it required. A rigorous test phase was conducted with Ericsson in order to optimize the networks for the country’s connectivity requirements.
For Tata Sky’s subscribers the service offers enhanced flexibility and a choice of entertainment. It includes content libraries featuring thousands of movies, concerts and TV shows, as well as a Catch Up TV function which allows users to view programs up to five days after they were originally broadcasted. The content is available in a variety of languages and easily accessible using a title-based search functionality.
The Catch Up TV service is included in the customer’s monthly subscription package, with the customer paying for on-demand movies separately. This is a key element to creating new revenue streams for the company.
“The benefits for the users of the VOD service is that as we all know, you can have 200 channels but nothing to watch,” explains Yigs Riza.
“Having the VOD service, they can go to the catalogue and look at thousands of different pieces of content, whether its movies or Catch Up, and choose something to watch with the family.”
Today, a dedicated onsite Ericsson Managed Services team works with Tata Sky on a daily basis, providing 24/7 operations support, maintenance, and system reports on factors such as network usage and download figures.
Yigs Riza explains the reasons behind Ericsson’s selection: “Tata Sky chose Ericsson because of its long heritage and experience in launching VOD and other leading type services in many places around the world. We’ve worked with them for a very long time, had confidence in them, so they were the natural selection for us.”
Vineet Somakumar, Regional Sales Manager, SAARC Countries, Ericsson explains that the company is now considering progressing to a multiscreen service: “The natural progression would be for the same service to deliver content onto multiple devices, like the mobile, the tablet and the PC, and for an end-user it becomes content anywhere, any time, anyplace.”
With over eight million subscribers, Tata Sky is one of India’s leading Direct-to-Home (DTH) service providers, offering high quality picture and sound, along with advanced services. With a wide array of programming options and interactive features, the company aims to empower the Indian viewer with choice, control and convenience.
Incorporated in 2004, Tata Sky is a Joint Venture between the TATA Group and STAR, and uses the Sky brand owned by BSkyB.
Capture the developing VOD market ahead of competitors.
Create new revenue streams through services such as subscription content libraries and “pay as you go” movies on-demand.
Differentiated offer through a broader range of services.
Enhanced choice and flexibility for subscribers.
Scalable system designed to facilitate massive future growth in market demand at a low operating cost.
Progressive Download System featuring an Ericsson Content Management System, Time-Shifted TV and Xport Producer products.
Ericsson Media Delivery Network for the distribution, delivery and content management of linear and non-linear TV.
Managed services and 24/7 support.
Deployment, set up and testing.
VOD services have existed in developed markets for over ten years. Existing technologies and services have therefore been designed to take advantage of faster internet speeds and higher revenues per subscriber.
This creates two difficulties for operators such as Tata Sky: firstly, they need to provide the same high-quality service seen in developed countries to consumers with significantly lower connection speeds. Secondly, they need to be able to provide this service at a much lower cost, as a large section of the Indian market have less expendable income.
Being the first operator to launch a VOD service in India means that Tata Sky will be developing new technological and economic models. These are likely to become a benchmark for other companies in future.
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