It was quite a while back that we touched on the topic of best DTH services in India. Back then, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV were the top two providers, according to a survey. Now, although it’s not a survey (and hence not people’s opinions), folks at Times of India have done a thorough research on the 6 major DTH companies (Tata Sky, Dish TV, Sun Direct, Reliance Digital TV, Videocon D2H and Airtel Digital TV) and have listed them in order in various aspects such as compression technology used, 3D ready, DVR availability, portability (availability in cars), Universal remote, Remote recording via mobile or Internet, 1080i and 1080p HD picture availability, Rain attenuation followed by over all ranking.
While Airtel Digital TV has maintained its position as the best provider overall, its been a complete turn around for Tata Sky. It’s not that the service is bad or anything but its just that other providers, especially the new one’s such as Videocon D2H have just entered with best tech available and are also aggressive. Tata Sky, on the other hand, isn’t upgrading its compression technology (least innovative of all), isn’t adding new channels (second least number of channels offered, 189+, just above Sun Direct), isn’t bettering its Rain attenuation issues (most like to go off during rain).
Overall, Airtel Digital TV (latest technology) wins the race with 8/9 rating, while Videocon D2H (paisa vasool service) and Reliance Digital TV score 6/9 each. Tata Sky and Dish get 4/9 and Sun Direct gets 3/9.
Update: The problem with Tata Sky is that of any first mover issues. Back then, the best technology available was MPEG 2 compression. When Airtel Digital TV and other entered, they have straight away used MPEG 4 compression. MPEG 4 can allocate more channels in the same bandwidth compared to MPEG 2. That is one of the reason why Tata Sky is among the last ones to add new channels.
Tata Sky has upgraded though. All its Plus Set Top Boxes (which can record programs) are MPEG 4 compatible but there are still so many active users using older STB’s that Tata Sky needs to take care about.