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“India is not yet mature for RIO deals”: Sanjev Hiremath

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The current scenario in India is not very viable to allow for reference interconnect offer (RIO) to take off. No broadcaster would want to be on a RIO agreement because the moment you are on RIO, your distribution is affected. Broadcasters want their channels to be carried by all operators and also in good packs for maximum reach.

Subscription too would be lower at least initially. The RIO rate X subscribers on CPS basis will mostly likely be lower than the existing negotiated price for that channel.

India is not yet an addressable pay TV subscription market and RIO deals will not work anytime soon; neither for the broadcaster nor for the DPO. The addressable billing system, consumer communication and B to C marketing needs to kick-in. 

Currently, broadcasters want reach and DPO wants carriage or at the least it does not want to pay for the channel and keep its content cost down. There is competition among DPOs too and cost of content is critical to all. RIO is a regulatory mandate in the absence of a deal and a good basis for negotiations. Money saved on carriage on RIO (as there is no carriage) can be used for discounts to structure deals. 

In the immediate future, some channels will get impacted due to poor uptake or because of it being a niche or premium channel. Some of these channels will likely go on RIO especially stand alone ones. As and when billing for content gets established we move to a more mature market where broadcasters will get decent subscription revenues, niche channels will be able to survive and premium channels will make more money being a-la-carte on a CPS deal.

We are in a transition phase of moving to the real objective of DAS, pay as per channels viewed/subscribed - in short, ADDRESSABILITY!

(These are purely personal views of consultant Sanjev Hiremath and indiantelevision.com does not necessarily subscribe to these views.)

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