Airtel’s Sunil Mittal has started talks to merge the direct-to-home television business housed under Airtel Digital TV with Essel Group’s Dish TV, according to a report.
The talks are at an exploratory stage and the idea behind the proposed merger is to consolidate operations and fight billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.
Talk for a deal between Airtel DTH and Dish TV comes at a time when Jio has taken control of Hathway Cable & Datacom and DEN Networks to expand its television and broadband operations.
In December 2017 Airtel sold 20% stake in the parent firm of Airtel Digital TV, Airtel Telemedia to private equity firm Warburg Pincus. The stake was valued at $350 million (Rs 2,258 crore) which evaluated the DTH company at Rs 11,300 crore.
Trai in its report on the DTH market published in September 2018, revealed that Dish TV (combined with Videocon d2h) has the upper hand in the market with 37% market share. Next is Tata Sky which boasts of 27% market share and then Airtel Digital TV with 24% market share. In the quarter ending December 2018, Dish TV boasted of having 23.6 million subscribers, and it had operating revenue of Rs 1,517.4 crore, EBITDA of Rs 517.6 crore and an ARPU of Rs 200.