Make your TVs smart with new set top boxes from Videocon D2H, Tata Sky, Jio
What the set-top box users have to do to turn the televisions intelligent is to return their old boxes and upgrade them by paying ₹1,000. The STBs will have social media, music, content streaming apps and games.
Cable operators and direct-to-home service providers such as Videocon D2H, TataSky and Airtel are set to launch new set-top boxes (STB) by May — a move that will take away the thunder of smart TVs or streaming devices such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV. These will be priced at ₹3,500, roughly.
"The new set-top boxes from our stable, also called connected box, have the ability to connect to the internet either via WiFi or through a dongle attached to its USB hub," a Videocon D2H spokesperson said on Monday.
The STBs will have social media, music and content streaming apps. And games, too.
"The new connected box will eliminate the need for users to buy a new smart TV or a streaming device such as Google Chromecast and Apple TV. The STB will provide both linear programming as well the option to stream on-demand video and audio," he said.
STB users can upgrade by paying ₹1,000 and returning their old boxes.
Videocon D2H said their box has news and social apps such as NDTV, Facebook, and Twitter, and is in the process of adding support for Netflix, Voot, hotstar and Amazon Prime Video.
Netflix and Videocon D2H signed a deal in the first week of March to let its clients gain access movies and titles using the connected box. Airtel too is eyeing a slice of the new pie.
"We are working on a new hybrid STB that will enable users to watch TV as well as stream content," an Airtel source said.
Airtel's new STB is expected to corner the market-share of smart TV-makers and streaming devices, according to industry experts.
Videocon's launch is likely to prompt players such as DEN network and Siti Cable to come out with their products soon.
"Reliance Jio is pushing for its Android-based STB, which will come with Jio apps," said Neil Shah, a partner at Counterpoint Research. The rise in home broadband and free data, along with app-based remote controls, will give rise to a new digitised STB penetration."
Of about 10 million flat panel TVs shipped to India, nearly five million units are smart TVs, Counterpoint data show. The smart TV market size in India is around ?24,000 crore.
However, Faisal Kawoosa, analyst at CyberMedia Research, was sceptical about the all-in-one STBs.
Users don't like to be bound by the manufacturer with a specific set of apps and we have seen this with smartphones. The new STBs' success may be limited as these will have to rely on pre-installed apps in contrast to access to a smart app store in a smart TV."
Tata Sky, which was the first DTH that tried to digitise STBs, is working on a concept called Webapps.
"Tata Sky+ customers are able to use apps while watching TV," said Harit Nagpal, the company's MD and CEO.
"Tata Sky is providing customers an additional interface to access information and games from popular apps through their TV,?apart from conventional handheld devices." Tata Sky already has Sky+ Transfer STBS where apps come for free. The company said that its digitised STBs will not need to be purchased separately and all updates to the Transfer box will be provided by the company for free.
Smart TV makers are unfazed by the new product.
"Customers who need to buy a smart TV go with the inbuilt smart TV from the manufacturer ... people tend to use these devices (STBs) to their existing non-smart TVs," said Neeraj Bahl, head of consumer electronic business of Panasonic India.