Bharti Airtel’s DTH arm Airtel Digital TV has launched a modern-day set top box (STB) which integrates video content streaming applications like Netflix and YouTube in addition to its own vast cache of over 500 satellite channels.
The device has been launched with the intention to seamlessly bridge the gap between online paid content and offline content, while also integrating free content like YouTube and other streaming services. CEO and Director at Airtel DTH, Sunil Taldar, said during the launch that, “Consumers have to shell out Rs.10,000-15,000 above normal TV which is (a) big deterrent. Then there are media streaming devices, but (the) experience is not seamless. Airtel Internet TV will address this growing seamless experience of offline and online content.”
The new STB will be sold as a unit containing a pre-installed version of the Netflix and Google Play Store applications, and will support the streaming of content from YouTube. Users will be able to download compatible apps (including games) from the Play Store onto the STB and use the app on their TV sets.
Airtel is offering the new STB for Rs.3,999 for its existing customers, who will also receive a complimentary additional 1-month subscription to Airtel DTH. New customers will be expected to shell out a bit more, with the basic package starting at Rs.4,999 and an advanced version at Rs.7,999 which includes a 1-year subscription to Airtel’s 500-odd satellite channels.
This new STB, if successful, could open a new market for digital-video solutions. Competitors in the space could develop their own STBs on the versatile Android platform, and possibly integrate more functionality within the devices themselves.