French Open: Tata Sky subscribers were big losers

For Tata Sky subscribers who are tennis fans, life has not been jingalala during the past fortnight. Thanks to a dispute between rights holders for the French Open in India, Neo Sports, and DTH service provider Tata Sky, the DTH operator blocked Neo Sports, depriving their subscribers from watching the French Open.

So the subscribers lose – but so do the two entities involved in the dispute, Tata Sky and Neo Sports.

 French Open: Tata Sky subscribers were big losers

File picture of the Roland Garros Stadium in Paris. AP

On twitter, both these brands took a beating over the weekend, with irate tennis fans giving vent to their feelings with posts like these.

While Neo Sports has issued a statement, Tata Sky does not seem to have. Whatever the dispute may be, the silence from Tata Sky does serious damage to the brand. It is unlikely that many will unsubscribe from Tata Sky was a result of the French Open fiasco thanks to the rest of the channels available and the normally reliable service, but this unilateral decision to blank out Neo Sports without adequately explaining to their consumers why they are doing so, compounded by their obstinate refusal to engage with them on social media, will make Tata Sky a company that consumers have to suffer a relationship with under duress.

As far as Neo Sports is concerned, they will certainly lose out on revenue from subscriptions – and that just cannot be good for their business plans.

The French Open experience underlines the fallacy of the ‘competition’ in the DTH market. Since there are many players, it appears to be a non-monopolistic market; but, since switching operators involves changing hardware, ‘porting’ to another operator is far from simple.

The situation is not unlike what we saw in the mobile telephony market before number porting. As of last month, more than a staggering 100 million mobile subscribers had ported since the option to do so was made available.

To prevent a French Open like situation from being repeated, and to truly offer consumers a choice, portability in DTH services is now a must.

Updated Date: Jun 09, 2014 12:25:44 IST