Updated with graphs from a company presentation

On its way to profitability, Essel Group owned DTH company Dish TV lost momentum and yielded to rising expenditure in the quarter ended December 2009 with net losses soaring 35.8 percent sequentially after shrinking in the previous three quarters – March 09, June 09 and September 09. Losses are still 35 percent lower year on year at Rs. 762.17 million.

Details: Release | Financials

According to an investor presentation by the company, its EBITDA has fallen sequentially.

New Logo & Tag Line

In November, Dish TV sold 11% stake to PE firm Apollo Management and raised $100 million for the sole purpose of acquiring new subscribers and driving up its userbase. How? Through advertisements featuring its brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan, promotions and new marketing tactics such as its new tag line and logo (see above): From “Thoda aur wish karo, Dish karo”, the new jingle for the DTH service is now “Ghar Aayi Zindagi” – is it a counter to the series of new ads by arch rival Tata Sky featuring Aamir Khan at home, talking about daily routines?

Adds 0.55M Users; Average Subscriber Acquisition Cost Falls

The December quarter is generally the busiest for DTH, as well as other consumer electronics companies, as it is the festive (read ‘shopping’) season. In fact, the reason given by the company on the previous quarter’s (September 2009) lowered additions was that it was a “pre-season readiness effort” – a sort of lull before the storm as people were saving up to purchase later. The company added 0.55 million subscribers, 0.15 million more than it did in the previous quarter. It typically adds 2 million users in a year.

Dish now has a net subscriber base of 5.3 million users of the over 15 million DTH users in the country. The company claims it has 35% market share. Other players in this market include Tata Sky, Reliance ADAG’s BIG TV, Airtel Digital TV, Sun Direct, DD Direct and Videcon D2H.

Airtel did not give a break up of the number of DTH subscribers but its Telemedia business, which runs DTH service Airtel Digital TV, broadband services and IPTV, added 61,000 customers in the quarter ended December 2009.

Dish TV reports that the average subscriber acquisition cost was Rs 2,477, lower than its expected average of Rs. 2500. Last quarter, the company witnessed a higher average subscriber acquisition cost of Rs. 2635.

Updated: ARPU (average revenue per user has dropped further from Rs. 139 recorded last quarter to Rs. 135 in December 2009.

Expenses Soar

Expenses have risen 11.8 percent quarter on quarter and 19 percent year on year to Rs. 3437.3 million.This is primarily due to the sudden surge in advertising expenditure, which previously was 6 percent of gross revenue, but is now 10 percent at Rs. 269 million, up 75.8 percent sequentially. Ad expenditure may continue to increase as the company is now on a subscriber addition drive with the new funds in hand from its stake sale to PE firm Apollo Management.

Selling and distribution expenses have risen also 40 percent to Rs. 359 million, up from Rs. 256 million in the September quarter.

Dish TV is an Essel group company run by Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Zee Group. This quarter, Dish’s revenues rose 7.7 percent to Rs. 2.7 billion.

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