Direct to home (DTH) service provider Tata Sky has announced the new Binge Service for its DTH subscribers. This new service will allow Tata Sky users to also access over-the-top (OTT) streaming apps such as Hotstar, Sun NXT and Hungama Play, in addition to their Live TV subscription. This is priced at Rs 249 per month.
The Tata Sky Binge service is essentially a partnership with Amazon, which has made a special version of the Fire TV Stick, and it is called the Amazon FireTV Stick – Tata Sky Edition. The apps such as Amazon Video, Hotstar, Sun NXT, Hungama Play and Eros Now are all preloaded on this Fire TV Stick. When you subscribe to Tata Sky Binge, you get this Amazon FireTV Stick – Tata Sky Edition for free, and you need to pay the Rs 249 subscription cost every month. It is quite interesting that Tata Sky is bundling the subscriptions for Hotstar, Eros Now, Hungama Play and SunNxt within the Tata Sky Binge subscription. This means that as a user, you don’t have to pay for separate subscriptions for each of these apps.
Incidentally, the Amazon Prime subscription is also bundled with the Amazon FireTV Stick – Tata Sky Edition for a period of three month, and will be charged at Rs 129 per month post that if you wish to continue. The cost advantage is very clear either way. For instance, the Hotstar Premium is priced at Rs 299 per month (or Rs 999 per year) and the Eros Now Premium costs Rs 99 per month or Rs 950 per year. If these are the video streaming apps that you regularly access, this could actually turn out to be quite cost effective. And since you will pay for all this via just one Tata Sky subscription, for your TV and Binge services, the convenience also cannot be ignored.
The Amazon FireTV Stick – Tata Sky Edition will plug directly into the HDMI port on your TV, and it doesn’t matter which set top box (STB) you may be using at the time. Tata Sky offers four STBs at the moment—a standard definition box, a high definition box, a HD PVR which allows you to pause and record Live TV and a 4K STB.
At present, Netflix is not available on Tata Sky Binge.
This announcement comes just days after Tata Sky’s rival Dish TV announced the DishSMRT Stick for the DishNXT HD set top box customers. The DishSMRT Stick is priced at Rs 599 with a free preview of six months bundled with the price and currently offers Hungama Play, Zee5 and Sony Liv, with the confirmation that Voot and AltBalaji apps will be added to the platform soon. The DishSMRT Stick connects with Wi-Fi directly, you do not have to struggle with a smartphone app to set it up or the inconvenience of having to connect the STB with the internet router via a LAN cable. However, you will have to sign in with your separate subscriptions for these apps—whether you are on the free tier or are paying for a premium subscription.
It is very clear that cord cutting as a concept has well and truly arrived in India, and that is worrying the DTH players. Users are looking for switch away from the conventional Live TV, and the streaming apps such as Amazon Video, Hotstar, Netflix, Voot, Sony Liv and so on are the biggest gainers in this switch of viewing preferences. Tata Sky, and Dish TV before that, are trying to meld together best of both worlds, in an attempt to hold on to customers who may otherwise have switched to the streaming apps altogether—hopefully this Amazon FireTV Stick – Tata Sky Edition will do the trick.
At present, Tata Sky is competing with Dish TV, the Dish TV owned D2H, Airtel Digital TV and Sun Direct in the DTH space.