Value added services will drive digitisation on TV

NEW DELHI: Though viewers at present seem reluctant to pay more for content, they will be enticed to do so once value added services like interactivity and digitisation are available.

Speakers on the panel, ‘RoI: Pushing the envelope, models that pay’, said migration to digital format was increased almost by the hour. founder and CEO Anil Wanvari and Media Partners Asia executive director Vivek Couto conducted the discussion.

The panel was part of the Sixth India Digital Networks Summit, organised by and Media Partners Asia.

Incable MD and CEO Ravi Mansukhani said that the time had come to re-rate the industry and make all sections – DTH, DTV, and analogue – move together. He said it was time consuming for any consumer to go to a theatre for seeing a film or go to the market for shopping, and therefore the internet and VAS on TV offered viable solutions that one could afford and were more economical. Digitisation would provide all these opportunities, he added.
Mansukhani informed that the cable operator was not unduly worried about the growth of DTH since it did not directly affect his business. He said 30 per cent of the TV sets being sold were still standard TVs, incapable of receiving HDTV. Switching over to LCD or LED TVs was bound to take some time. The growth of HD was around 18 to 20 per cent in the metros of Delhi and Mumbai but was less than 10 per cent nationally.

However, he added that the real change will come with the bundling of TV and the internet and the process of digitisation will get accelerated.

As far as analogue TV was concerned, Mansukhani noted that it was presently doing a balancing act since the cable operator had to drop some channels in order to provide some others as the present analogue STB could not carry more than a certain number of channels. 
According to National Geographic Network and Fox International Channels MD Keertan Adyanthaya, HD would become sustainable gradually. The prices of the HD STBs will fall with increasing number of channels and increasing number of subscribers.

He said cable operators and aggregators had to work together to increase ARPUs. At present, it was the operator and not the broadcaster who was providing STBs and the services. He expected a change in one to three years since the cable operator was also eager to upgrade.

There was also bound to be some categorization of the kind of channels a consumer wanted, though the going would be tough with over 500 channels.

Star Den head strategy and planning Amit Arora noted that the viewer will ultimately pay more for better platforms with more services in the long term. But he said digitisation was expected more at the level of the local cable operator. It was the cable operator who could educate the viewer about HD, and only then this would take off.

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