Dish TV, the Direct to Home television services operator, has launched Dish+, a standard definition (SD) set top box with unlimited recording facility. 

Similar to its HD set top box Dish truHD+, Dish+ offers regular DVR (digital video recorder) features like recording and playing back TV programs, pausing or rewinding live TV program, various play-back positions, event based recording (EBR), time based recording (TBR) and allows users to an USB drive or a hard disk drive. The company claims that Dish+ is compatible with any external USB device or a hard disk drive. However, its worth noting that the content on the USB drive cannot be played on any other set top box or or other personal computing devices, since the video files are encrypted to avoid any piracy concerns.

Availability: Dish TV said that Dish+ will be available in 42 Indian cities to be covered in the Phase I and Phase II of Cable TV digitization and is priced at Rs 1690. The company will also be providing a 4GB pen drive as an introductory offer, although it is not clear if Dish TV is offering a blank pen drive or it intends to preload the pen drive with content. It is also not clear as to when the company plans to launch this set up box, since there is no mention about it in DishTV’s official website.

Target Audience: What’s interesting is that the company is positioning Dish+ as a replacement to Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) and is targeting customers who don’t have a high definition television and are switching from an analog cable TV system to a digital one, post cable TV digitization in the country. However, what it essentially is a SD-version of HD (high definition) set top boxes offered by them or any other DTH provider, hence we are skeptical of how long DishTV will have the first mover advantage before some other DTH provider launches a similar set top box for its customers.

That being said, its worth noting that the set top boxes are aggressively priced for new users, when compared to standard SD set top boxes from other DTH providers which costs around Rs 1590 or Rs 1690, thereby providing users with more features at a marginal price upgrade.

Existing Customers? A similar Business Today report suggests that Dish TV is also working on launching an exchange offer for its existing customers. So it will be interesting to see what Dish TV has planned for its customers, who had previously paid almost the same amount for an entry-level set top box. We also wonder if the company also plans to slash the prices of its entry level set top box, since it wouldn’t make sense to offer a regular set top box at Rs 1599 when the Dish+ set top box is available at Rs 1690. This price drop could also enable the company to reach out to more users who are looking for a DTH connection.

Dish TV Q1-FY12: In July 2012, Dish TV had reported an operating revenues of Rs 519.9 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2012, up 12.9% year on year, with an EBITDA of Rs 155.6 crore, and a loss of Rs 32.32 crore. During the quarter, it added 504,000 new subscribers, taking its gross subscriber base to 13.4 million and net subscribers to 9.8 million. It also had reported an Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of Rs 156 and 25% incremental share of HD additions during the quarter.

Previous developments: In March this year, Dish TV had launched a pilot program, under which it had partnered with around 30 local cable operators in Delhi who acted as its agents to distribute and install DTH connections. The company CEO RC Venkateish had then stated that they plan to rope in 3000 cable operators across the country for this initiative.

Prior to this, it had also launched Dish Freedom, a Conditional Access Module (CAM) that can be fitted into set-top boxes of other DTH providers, allowing its customers to watch 55 free-to-air TV and radio channels from Doordarshan’s DD Direct service and 16 selected channels from Dish TV, under the freedom pack.