(Updated) Unfair Price Rise by ESPN STAR force DTH Operators to pull off HD Channels

Before on-field battle between India-Pakistan Cricket series begins, battle was started between official boradcasters ESPN-STAR and various DTH Operators. ESS has raised price of its HD channels from Rs 40 to Rs 140, which is huge price, and in protest several DTH opertaors like Airtel, Dish TV and Sun Direct have decided to pull of ESS HD channels viz ESPN HD and STAR CRICKET HD.

These price rise displays greediness of ESS by charging such huge amount for its HD channels considering HD viewing is gaining popularity in India. Inspite HD channels were highely charges, channels continued to broadcast advertisments (which included HD Movies channels as well). TRAI should intervene and stop this price rise forced by Channel broadcasters.

In protest I have decided to drop plan of subscribing to SD version of Star Cricket, and watch all matches on Doordarshan!


The country’s top direct-to-home (DTH) players Airtel Digital, Sun TV and Dish TV have pulled the plug on ESPN HD and Star Cricket HD just before the start of the much-anticipated India-Pakistan series due to a sudden hike in tariffs by the broadcaster. There are almost a million high-definition (HD) subscribers on DTH in India out of a total market of 50 million.

A DTH operator told TOI that ESPN HD, which used to cost Rs 40 per month, is now being priced at Rs 142 monthly, while customers who earlier paid Rs 40 for Star Cricket HD will now have to pay Rs 120 monthly. This hike they said is too steep for them to pass on to their subscribers. However, Tata Sky, Videocon D2H and Reliance Big TV will continue telecasting the HD versions of the sports channels. The India-Pakistan series starts on December 25 and has attracted huge advertiser interest with ESPN expected to rake in around Rs 120 crore.

Salil Kapoor, Dish TV CEO, told TOI, “This sort of increase before the start of such a series is not justified and we have decided to not carry these channels on the HD platform. Broadcasters need to be more sensitive about pricing although we are still hoping some sort of a solution can be achieved before the series starts.” He added the adoption and growth of HD in India will be impacted with this kind of insensitive pricing by broadcasters.

Dish TV has the highest number of DTH subscribers in India at around 14 million, while Airtel DTH has 7.5 million registered users. HD has been a growing segment for all DTH operators. A spokesperson for Airtel DTH also confirmed that they will not be telecasting the HD version of ESPN and Star Cricket.

Update: ESPN STAR has denied allegations that prices have increased for their HD channels. Now not sure, who to blame, ESS or Airtel for removing channels before high profile India-Pak Cricket series.


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