Dish TV boxes to get support for Internet apps by December

Dish TV, India’s largest direct-to-home satellite television service, said it will send out software upgrades to over 4 mln (40 lakh) of its users that will enable them to install apps to watch Internet content on their TV by December.

“There are almost 4 million boxes that we have which we can convert into connected boxes which we are planning to do in this quarter,” said Anil Dua, CEO of Dish TV India Ltd, which runs DTH services under D2h, Zing and Dish TV brands across the country.

“We are going to leverage our existing boxes, already active in the market and provide them, enable them to watch internet content as well,” he added.

He also said that the new service will be “very affordable and very attractive”. The exact prices will be announced only at launch, he said.

“The consumer will have the best of both the worlds getting connected with the Hybrid box and the DTH platform at the same time, keeping the cost low and giving excellent value for money,” Dua added.

The software upgrade will be available only to those users who have purchased one of the recent models of Dish TV’s set-top boxes or STBs that support this feature. As of now, said Dua, about 4 mln out of the total 22 mln customers have such boxes. These boxes can often be identified by the presence of an ethernet port.

Users will have to connect their set-top-boxes to the Internet, either using an ethernet cable or possibly, using a wifi dongle that can be plugged into the device — depending on what kind of software update is pushed out.

The move is in keeping with similar moves by competitors like Tata Sky, which has announced that it will enable users to install third-party apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video on their Tata Sky boxes.

Dua, however, did not clarify what kind of apps will be allowed on Dish TV’s boxes.

It is quite possible that the company may not support a large number of apps, and will instead provide only a handful, or even a single, app that can be installed, though which it will channel all videos.


Meanwhile, the app-push will not be restricted to the set-top boxes either.

Dua said his company will also launch a mobile content app by December, featuring “a fair mix of linear TV channels, catch up content as well as original content”.

The idea behind the app is not to be “an aggregator” of content from other providers, said Dua.

“Of course, we may build app-in-app integration but as I said we will [initially] provide several live TV channel, we will provide catch-up TV and we will provide some exclusive content,” he said.

The policy seems to be similar to that of Tata Sky, which provides live TV channels and repurposed content from broadcasters on its mobile app.

Dish TV, like other satellite companies, has been worried about customers disconnecting their services due to the proliferation of apps such as Hotstar, Amazon Prime and Netflix.

The Dish TV app will be used “as a tool for our existing subscriber so that they don’t kind of look here and there, they have everything available with their Dish TV brand on their platform,” Dua said.

“We have made substantial progress, we plan to launch it in this quarter,” he said. “Our Beta phase is starting and we will be also getting into quick national launch soon after, so it is pretty much at the launch stage at the moment.”

Dish TV is part of the Zee group, which already has a content app known as Zee5, which has live channels, movies, videos and exclusive content.

“We are talking of different customers and different products there, so the group company has a typical OTT (over-the-top app) which is in the broadcasting space,” he said, pointing out that Zee5 has a focus on longer web-series and exclusive content.

“Our OTT is meant for more from point of view for subscriber, so we are looking at typically short form kind of content which is different from what the other OTT players are looking at.”