The last two years, I had chosen the Mega South HD annual pack of Tatasky paying Rs.6,900/- per annum (that works out to Rs.575/- per month). This pretty much gave me every single channel that Tatasky broadcast (including Active channels). It also provided me 12 free Showcase movies (one per month).
I had chosen this for several reasons:
I had chosen this for several reasons:
- save the trouble of paying each month
- protect myself from price hikes, if any
- receive any new channels as they become available
- not pay separate "HD access fee" (Rs.125/- per month or equivalent annual)
Now, why did I need to choose this "pack" over other available ones? The answer to that lies in the way Tatasky "packages" its "packs". Let us check each pack and see what I miss. These are the current "Truchoice" packs and their rates/contents as I write this.
- South special (Rs.190/- per month) - no Sports, no English movies, no English entertainment
- South Sports special (Rs.220/- per month) - South special + * Sports 3 and * Sports 4
- Dhamaal Mix (Rs.240/- per month) - has absolutely nothing that I want (no Sports, English movies, entertainment)
- Dhamaal Cricket (Rs.275/- per month) - big joke right? Just * Sports 3 (cricket comes in no other sports channel or what)?
- Supreme Sports Kids (Rs.340/- per month) - Close to what I want - but where are English movies & entertainment?
- Metro (Rs.380/- per month) - Little better, but no English entertainment,
- Grand Sports (Rs.470/- per month) - has everything that I want.
Also, add Rs.125/- if I need to view even a single HD channel in any of the above plans.
So, now you understand the reason behind the Rs.575/- per month that I was willing to pay (annually), since the channels that I watch typically include
- English movies
- English entertainment
- Kids programs
- News channels occasionally
- Hindi movies/entertainment - occasionally
- Regional (tamil or malayalam - occasionally - often when my parents or in-laws are around)
And then there are the annual packs which work out to less than the monthly rates * 12. But they still have the above problem!
Anyway, what irked me and made me move out of the "Truchoice" model were these...
- Last year, Tatasky introduced "Specials" - channels which were not part of even the annual packs. I felt short-charged, since I had explicitly paid for everything that came up in the year.
- We don't see much TV and when we do - they are specific channels! Of course, we do surf, when we don't find anything interesting, but pretty much come back to a set of 5-6 channels (based on who is viewing).
- And the most irritating reason - despite paying such exorbitant charges, none of the channels are ads free! You still see an enormous amount of ads and programs are telecast between these. This is particularly true with HD channels. When they were introduced, HD channels had very few ads and I felt paying a premium for them was justified. Now, many channels have identical telecast of SD and HD channels and even if not, the number of ads is way beyond tolerance level.
- And yeah, the HDMI port in my 32" Sony Bravia LCD TV stopped working and the mechanic told me I had to replace the "board" (which could cost be upwards of Rs.11k). So, I was, for all practical purposes, no longer watching in "high definition" (though I could view HD channels).
- Ah, almost forgot, Tatasky increased that annual charge from Rs.6,900/- to Rs.7,900/- and that did not include the Specials, of course!
So, I decided to try a feature that Tataky offers - which is to "make your own pack". Pick and choose channels that you want and only pay for them! If you thought it is easy to switch the plan, then you are mistaken. This needs you to "call" Tatasky and make a request. I used the Online chat and had no difficulty in doing the change - you need to specify a list of channels that you want to start off with. There are only two conditions:
- You need to order a minimum of Rs.165/- worth of channels
- Once chosen, you cannot drop the channels before a month.
In hotels, the buffets rates are different from a la carte rates for the same items. It is no different here. As you start picking channels, you realize you will soon hit and exceed the Rs.165/- mark.
I was also told that I could always add channels whenever I wanted... this was good, for I could add channels for a month when parents/in-laws visit and delete them once they are off. I could add a specific sports channel only when a particular program is on (for instance, I will choose Set Max when IPL is on).
I ended up with 11 channels, across all the genres, based on our current viewing pattern and paying about Rs.175/- For the interested, I chose the following:
- * Sports 1 (the costliest - Rs.40/- per month - due to cricket world cup) - actually I need not, since I believe, India matches come in Doordarshan (costs Rs.0/-) and even regional channels (which are cheaper).
- * World - where I view Monk
- * Movies - the only movie channel that I end up watching, if at all
- * Gold - yeah, just one Hindi movie channel - just in case - (for Humshakals and such movies)
- CNN IBN - one news channel - cheapest and one of the non-entertainment news channels
- CNBC TV18 - I'm not much into business - but for the heck of it - just in case
- Asianet Movies - mallu movies
- * Vijay - one regional channel - has Mahabharath and stuff
- Disney Junior - only one of two kids channels that currently has no ads (though they advertise programs of Disney channel); the other channel is Z Q, which is Rs.105/- per month!
- National Geographic
- Animal Planet
Interestingly, my existing recorded programs (of channels that I no longer have subscribed) did not get deleted - maybe it will do today.
And yeah, except for live programs (like cricket), I do not watch anything when they are actually broadcast. I record and play back - fast-forwarding the ads. One reason, why I hesitate to switch to another provider (Hathway is one that most have).
Let us see how this goes for a while... I can probably buy some books with the money I save. And hey, I do pay for unlimited broadband at 50 Mbps. I can watch anything that is not there above online!
While I did this exercise, I could not help wondering why can't a mechanism be introduced, where we pay per use. So, you broadcast everything to me and charge me based on what I watch and how long. Similar to how the mobile phone billing is - number of same provider calls,number of local calls, std, roaming, data charges and so on. It is tricky since tatasky and others are aggregators and are not directly providing channels, but let us see - maybe, this will be an interesting differentiation. Or very soon, online viewing will take over and make these broadcasters obsolete.