Content monetisation opportunities for MSOs in digital era

MUMBAI: Multi-system operators (MSOs) can line up several content monetisation avenues in a digitised cable TV environment.

The probability of commercial exploitation is more in the areas of niche, idle and local content.

According to IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL) SVP Subhashish Mazumdar, the taps can be opened immediately with MSOs sourcing archival content from broadcasters and movies that do not find their way to release on theatres. MSOs can also launch server-based channels.

Cable operators will also gain more revenue from a digital economy by augmenting their channel carriage capacity. Citing HBO?s decision to launch two ad free channels as a good model, Mazumdar said this is what is needed. "This is good for the pay TV market. You monetise the audience in a segmented manner."

Mazumdar also spoke of broadband as being a further step to unlock revenue. "The operator will be in a position to charge more for advanced technology. Cable operators and MSOs can generate revenue in a step wise manner," he said.

The other revenue streams are video-on-demand, gaming and e-learning VOIP is a revenue stream that MSOs needed to open up, though there is a limited possibility now as regulations do not allow for a national level voice communication, Mazumdar added.

MSOs will have to focus on branding as the digitisation wave deepens. "There is low level branding now," admits Mazumdar.. "But top-of-the-mind branding will be needed at some stage," he added.

HSBC Securities and Capital Markets associate director telecom and media Rajiv Sharma emphasised on the need of the MSOs to convince their local cable operators (LCOs) to push for broadband so that they can make money beyond just television. "MSOs will have to invest in network infrastructure. Broadband, no doubt, will require capex investments but the margins can be higher than the video services," he said.

Consumer-facing two-way cable networks will have a better ability to raise funds, Sharma added. Strategic and private equity investors will also look at scalable models.

Speaking at the Broadcast Digitisation Summit organised by Telecom Lead, Assocham national council chairperson on media and entertainment Sujata Dev stressed on the need to develop digital content. "Producing content in digital will grow. Rural india will also lead the digital push," she said.

Dev noted that for money earners in the family and for the youth, the television set is just one device to consume content. Which is why broadcasters are trying to see how their content can travel across devices.

"That is why producing content in digital is important. It is also important to note that the consumer expectations will rise and they will be demanding as they pay for the channels they subscribe to watch," Dev said.

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