Wel,l if you were happy with your cable services and never felt like jumping the ship to DTH, the Indian government just made it easier for you to finally make that decision. With the network switching from analog to digital, it is mandatory to have a set top box to view most of the channels. Even though the shift has been made mandatory only in the metros, it is only a matter of time before other cities follow suit. So is it finally time to bid adieu to your faithful cable operator? Maybe not.
Lets have a look at various DTH service providers in India and how they stand against the competition.
This is the first name that comes to mind whenever the talk about DTH is brought on the table. Tata Sky was one of the first players to enter the Indian market and guess what? They are the most expensive too. Tata Sky offers services mainly in three categories:
TATA Sky HD
TATA Sky+ HD
The last two come with HD (High Definition) channels, something that flat screen televisions are made for. The quality of content is way superior than your non HD content in terms of picture and voice clarity. However, good things always come at a price.
The difference between HD and HD+ is that the HD+ allows you to record live TV. It comes with a 500 GB hard disk allowing you to store up to 420 hrs of sd recording.
The initial cost for the non HD box is around 1,700 rupees. The HD and HD+ set top boxes will set you back by Rs 3,000 and Rs 6,500 respectively. As for the monthly rental, it depends on the plan you select. The cheapest base pack on Tata Sky is for Rs 200 per month and covers most of the channels except for the sports ones and kids category. You can add those as add on packs available for 30-50 rupees per pack that will include most of the channels in that category. There’s also Cricket pack for Rs 365/year and will cover all matches played by India. Seems good if you only watch Cricket. Also, for additional Rs 100/month you get a few channels like Discovery available in HD. Now, not all channels are available in HD, but the ones that are, are covered in this pack.
Airtel DTH again comes with the same 3 options (without the flashy names though): SD, HD and HD with recorder. The SD set top box comes at Rs 1,700, with the HD and HD recorder priced at Rs 2800 and Rs 6000 respectively. All three come with a Rs 250 cash back offer and one month free subscription on whatever pack you choose.
The cheapest pack on SD is for Rs 275/month and covers most of the channels (including sports). The next pack is for Rs 330 with a few more channels. However, if you go for the HD or HD recorder version, the cheapest plan is for Rs 400/month and has 162 channels (which really doesn’t matter as half of them are regional channels that you’ll probably never see).
Reliance BIG TV
Next in line is BIG TV. They claim to be the best DTH provider in India and happen to offer the same three services again. If you’re lucky, you might get the set top box free of cost under their promotional schemes, but that depends on the seasonal discount offers. The standard price of SD box is Rs 1600 and the cheapest plan on SD is for Rs 199 pm (Rs 170 if you pay 12 months in advance). However, this pack doesn’t have any sports channel and the cheapest pack with sports channels comes for Rs 270/month. Check this for more info on the channels. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any info on the HD tariffs.
Dish TV is considered one of the cheaper alternatives by many. Fortunately, this seems to be somewhat true. The set top boxes are really cheap compared to others, and the SD one will set you back by only Rs 900 (a month’s subscription free and only Rs 650 if you order online). The SD box with a recorder costs only Rs 1100 and comes along with a month’s free subscription again. The best deal is definitely the HD+ (that includes recorder) for Rs 2,300 only. The cheapest pack on SD is available for Rs 199 but has no sports channels and a few others like Life OK, MTV are missing too. The Rs 255 pack will automatically provide the channel telecasting Indian cricket matches and adds a few more channels to the pack.
The cheapest HD pack is available for Rs 460/month and has a few HD channels along with SD channels.
What’s important is for you to decide which channels are a must have and which ones you can live without. It is also important to remember that even on HD packs not all channels are available in HD and it isn’t really worth the extra cost, at least yet. Also if you happen to have more than one television at your home, there are plans available for such scenarios and you won’t necessarily have to pay the rent for two connections. In most of the cases, your cable operator will still provide you with more channels at a cheaper price and with digitization the quality will only improve. Also you can go for long term plans that require you to pay the rent in advance so that you can save a little on the tariffs.