Cable TV

TS Panesar: We see ARPU growing by at least 30 per cent.

With an aim to redefine, transform business dynamics and further strengthen the role of the local cable operator (LCO) in the distribution chain, Hathway has launched a special initiative - Hathway Connect. Launched in Bangalore on 28 January, Hathway Connect is designed to make the lives of LCOs easy and convenient by providing technology and support through a dedicated online portal, which will have detailed features that will allow the LCO to run his business efficiently and effectively, in turn, offering better quality and high standard customer experience. In a tete-a-tete  Hathway Cable and Datacom Limited president-video business  T S Panesar speaks on the launch of its new portal  for LCOs ‘Hathway Connect’ and how it will shape the business in the coming days:

Q:   What’s the idea behind Hathway Connect?

TSP:  Digital technology is driving our lives, the whole world is moving towards technology enabled delivery and consumption. The cable TV industry in India is also moving towards complete digitization. Keeping in mind the changed environment, it is important for us to ensure that our entire cable TV distribution chain is technologically oriented and upgraded to keep with the current trends. We want our LCO partners to be empowered and be strengthened with technology to grow further and keep pace with the demands of the consumers.  Overall, the objective is to offer a value proposition to the customers and give them a best-in-class experience.

Q:  How do you think it’s different and how will it impact the LCOs?

TSP:  The entire distribution chain in cable still works heavily on a B2B model with almost 90 per cent of the business taking place through the local cable operator. Until now, there has been no real initiative to strengthen the LCOs’ business, provide them with tools to bring a change in operations and improve customer service. Hathway Connect is a breakthrough approach where we are building technology through a dedicated portal to give the LCO a window to compete with the consumer driven DTH business. It’s time that we recognize the role of the LCO in the cable value chain, the country’s geography is vast and it’s through the LCO, that customers get to watch the best entertainment and information on TV. We cannot deny this reality and hence, as a responsible market leader, we have taken the mantle of upgrading and enhancing the LCO as an entity and providing him full access to control his business through technology. We are confident that it will have a positive impact on LCOs and customers as well as prove to be a game changer in the cable industry.

Q:   What are the key aspects of the Hathway Connect initiative?

TSP:   More than just a portal, Hathway Connect is a transformational initiativeand a detailed foray into empowering our LCO partners and the business overall through technology. With this dedicated portal, the LCO will have a host of powerful features that will make his life easy and convenient. Some of the key aspects that the portal offers to the LCO are online activation of new customers (E-CAF), package management, account balance management including integration with Bill desk, customer prepaid option, sending customized notifications to subscribers, specialized LCO helpdesk, Self-care through mobile APP amongst many others, which will help them to upgrade operations, create efficient and seamless processes, aid in effective monitoring, improve customer service and build a more robust business down-the-line. Sitting in his office, the LCO can now control his operations with just a click, manage his entire customer base with utmost ease, thus, reducing operational costs. The E-KYC is technology mandate of TRAI and Hathway is the first MSO to comply and launch it to digitally store consumer data. Further, the LCO has the access to handle his customers with all possible data points, tools and incentives and communication which will enhance the standard of services to customers.

Q:  How do you envision the LCO in the digital regime?

TSP:  Since the advent of cable TV in India, the LCO has been the driving force in building this industry brick by brick over the past decade and a half. LCOs connect the length and breadth of the country in a way that even DTH cannot match. The LCOs interaction with consumers on a one-to-one level and the personal experience he offers goes a long way back which makes him the heart of our business. Despite several questions raised on the existence of the LCO post digitization regime and his role diminishing forward, he continues to be that vital cog for MSOs in covering the wide geography of the country and would be even more critical in DAS 3 and 4 implementation, which would cover the interiors and heartland of India. The LCO will continue to exist and grow and our endeavour is to support and strengthen them with technology.

Q:   How are you marketing this new initiative to the LCO fraternity?

TSP:  We are promoting ‘Hathway Connect’ in a big way across our LCO partners. A dedicated portal has been developed and aesthetically designed in sync with our corporate brand look with enhanced features available for usage. To orient the LCOs, we are doing orientation sessions and welcome initiatives to introduce the programme to them in the most effective manner. In addition, training sessions on the portal and various features are being conducted on one-on-one level. We launched Hathway Connect in Bangalore on 28 January 2016 amidst a gathering of top LCOs and the portal was made Live on 1 February. Going forward, we are planning to roll-out Hathway Connect in the western region on 1 April followed by rest of the regions to make a Pan-India impact.

Q:   Do you think the LCO is ready for this change?

TSP:  There is no option but to embrace technology and adopt it in the best possible manner. The environment around us is changing rapidly and becoming competitive. Cable has been in existence since the last decade and half and has pioneered this industry. Today, DTH poses a challenge built mainly on cutting-edge technology and superior customer service, however, cable with its vast geographical strength and connect with the last mile has a big advantage which is still not explore to the fullest. The LCO has to realise his strength and we as pioneers in the business have taken this step to change their mind set, approach and give them the solution to become more competitive.

Let’s not forget, consumer demands are increasing, they are more informed and smart and technology and quality has to be top notch. If we need to be competitive and grow, change is required. We, at Hathway, have transformed our business significantly over the past couple of years which has taken us ahead of competition. It’s time for our LCO partners to upgrade and change to strengthen themselves.

Q:  How do you see Cable growth in the coming year and how much of a role will ‘Hathway Connect’ play in this?

TSP:  As I mentioned earlier, today as one of the leading MSO and broadband company, we reach over 1.2 crore cable subscribers with a digital base of over 96 lakh and 30 lakh broadband homes passed. Our business has evolved manifold and the kind of steps that we have taken in the last one year has clearly taken us notches ahead of competition, be it initiatives for implementing DAS, packaging foray and now Hathway Connect. Cable TV has the potential to grow profitably, provided the industry upgrades with technology to make processes and operations easy and convenient. We have always taken risks and introduced new steps to grow the revenue pie, Hathway Connect is also a big step in that direction.

Today, the LCO is our biggest asset and if we can transform them, there is a robust business ahead of us and we see ARPU growing by at least 30 per cent.

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