Cable TV

IMCL introduces prepaid payment options

MUMBAI: It was in February 2014, when Tony D’silva took charge as the MD and group CEO of IMCL and laid the vision of adopting a prepaid model. And as the year comes to an end, the dream has been accomplished.

The multi system operator (MSO) has brought in two important additions in its operations. One, it has introduced prepaid model for all its a-la-carte including Star channels and mini packs for consumers; and two, the MSO has introduced a prepaid system for last mile owners (LMOs) offering packages to their consumers.

 “The prepaid model is applicable for a-la-carte, Star channels and for the mini-packs. So if a consumer wants all the GECs plus sports or English entertainment channels, they can create a mini-pack and can pay for that through our website or by going to the cash counters. We have introduced all the payment modes that are available for recharge of DTH and telecom,” informs D’silva.

The prepaid model for a-la-carte channels and mini packs was introduced after broadcaster Star India decided to enter into only Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) deals with MSOs.  

This apart, a prepaid mode of payment for LMOs selling packages to their consumers has also been introduced from 1 December. “The reason behind this is that the same pack is priced differently in different parts of the city by the LMOs. In this case, we, as MSOs have no control over the pricing given by the LMO and so we decided that the LMO should pay for the packs they give to their consumers upfront to us,” he informs.

 “In case the LMO does not pay for the packs that they give to their consumers, we will either downgrade them or remove all pay channels from them,” adds D’silva.

It can be noted that MSO Siti Cable too is looking at a similar prepaid model, wherein the LMOs would deposit an advance to the MSO to take signals and then collect the same from the consumer. The LMO according to the prepaid model will get the signals from the MSO till his credit balance remains.  The MSO is testing the viability of the model in Delhi first, and has decided to replicate it in other states, at a later stage.

According to D’silva, prepaid model of payment is the only way by which the process of monetisation of packages can begin. Talking about the response, he says that of the 2.2 million IMCL subscribers, so far 100,000 subscribers have used the prepaid model. “This shows that the market wants a payment mode like this,” he adds.

Also from the LMO point of view, as per D’silva, the collection is going good. “This is the only way that cable industry can move,” he opines.  

So will the prepaid model help increase ARPUs? Says D’silva, “Everything is about packaging and bundling. Nobody watches more than 20 channels, so if I can give these 20 channels at a reasonable price and after that add extra channels of the choice of consumers; it wouldn’t pinch the consumer’s pocket.”

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