Big TV goes live with DTH service

Reliance owned firm targets growth market

NEW DELHI -- Mumbai-based Big TV, owned by Indian mobile company Reliance Communications, launched its direct-to-home service Tuesday, offering more than 200 channels targeting India's 120 million TV households.

Big TV claims to be the first DTH service here to offer better sound and picture quality via MPEG 4 technology. They will compete with such rivals as News Corp.'s India joint venture Tata Sky and broadcasting group Zee Telefilm's Dish TV.

India's DTH market, which currently has an estimated 7 million subscribers, soon will see more competing services from players including consumer electronics group Videocon and India's top mobile company, Bharti Airtel.

According to Hong Kong-based analysts Media Partners Asia, 32.3 million Indian homes will get digital pay TV through DTH by 2017, while DTH operators will combine to generate $2.8 billion in annual revenue.

On Aug. 9, Big TV bagged exclusive four-year DTH rights for the Indian Premier League for $31.16 million.

Reliance Communications claims 55 million subscribers and is owned by parent Reliance ADAG, the company in talks to fund DreamWorks' exit from Paramount for a reported $550 million.