In what feels like a very different era, direct to home (DTH) subscribers often opted for the convenience of the long-term recharge options. Convenience and even saving a bit of money were the primary reasons. Annual and semi-annual recharges used to be offered by almost all DTH operators, including Tata Sky, Airtel Digital TV, Dishtv, d2h and Sun Direct. That meant you recharged your Tata Sky, Dish TV, D2H or Airtel Digital TV connection for a period of 3 months, 6 months or 12 months in one go, usually for a discounted price, and that was it for a while. However, the implementation of the new tariff regime by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) earlier this year did lead to the elimination of these long-term recharge options. But we could be seeing a return of the long-term recharge options, thanks to Tata Sky and its new Flexi Annual Plan.
The Tata Sky Flexi Annual Plan doesn’t offer a discount on a particular package or a selection of channels, but instead adds extra validity to your subscription at the end of the validity period. As a subscriber, what you need to do is ensure a minimum balance of 12 times your current subscription plan (also known as monthly recharge value or monthly recharge plan). So, if your currently monthly recharge amount for your selection packs is Rs 200, you will calculate 200 x 12 which amounts to Rs 2,400. When you recharge your Tata Sky account with Rs 2,400 at any point of time, you will be automatically enrolled for the Tata Sky Flexi Annual Plan. Once this is done, you will be eligible for an extra validity of 1 month, post the 12 months are completed. Tata Sky will credit an equivalent amount to your account at that time, to complete the one free month of viewing. “The bonus amount equivalent to 1 month would be credited to subscriber’s account within 48 hours after the requisite amount has been recharged in subscriber’s account. Accordingly, the due date would also get extended,” says Tata Sky.
There is also no restriction of how many times you may wish to change your channel selections, add or remove channels or subscribe to more channel packs during this time. All you need to keep an eye out for is any change in the monthly subscription amount and recharge your Tata Sky account with a multiplication of 12 of that differential amounts. For example, suppose you add channels or packs worth Rs 20 to your subscription, you will now have a monthly subscription of Rs 220. At this point, you must recharge with Rs 20 x 12 which amounts to Rs 240 to remain eligible for the Tata Sky Flexi Annual Plan.
“Plan does not constitute a lock in – either for content/pack or duration. Subscriber is free to add/delete/modify his current pack at any point of time during this Tenure. In case there is any change to his/her current monthly charge, it would get deducted from the Subscriber’s account. To remain eligible for the bonus amount, Subscriber needs to ensure adequate balance in the account and remain active for 12 months,” reads Tata Sky’s terms and conditions.
If at any point during this time, you either upgrade or downgrade a set top box (STB), add a new multi-room STB to your subscription or avail a service that involves a service charge, that amount will be deducted from your Tata Sky account—and you need to top up the amount in the account with the same denomination to remain eligible for the Tata Sky Flexi Annual Plan.
The primary reason why the long-term recharges went away was DTH operators as well as consumers were fretting more about the channel packs, ala-carte pricing, broadcaster bouquets and getting all these cobbled together at a price that remained affordable. In a way, you as a consumer were effectively reduced to figuring out your monthly subscription cost post selection of channels, multiplying that by the number of months you don’t want to be bothered to recharge the DTH connection and recharging your account with that amount. That did not give you any discounted pricing, any freebies or an extension of validity. The Tata Sky Flexi Annual Plan is definitely a step towards the return of the long-term recharge plans for DTH, but this is still nowhere close to how it used to be earlier. Hopefully, the winds of change are finally on the move. Now it is up to rivals Airtel Digital TV, Dish TV and the Dish TV owned D2H to launch their long-term recharge offers.