MSOs now look to push set tops as premium offering

MUMBAI: With or without government support, MSOs are looking at 1 November as a sort of cut-off deadline ahead of which they will make a concerted push to get set top boxes moving in the market.

With the government having thrown its hands up on the matter of conditional access, the MSOs have changed tack as far as pushing set-top boxes are concerned. The whole thrust now is on emphasising the value add the STB offers.

Says HTMT group director and CTO KV Seshasayee, stressing upon the value proposition, "The set-top box should be saleable on its own." Senior executives in Hathway echoed Seshasayee, saying that the thrust would be on selling CAS as a premium offering to the consumer.

Since the option to take or not would be left to the consumer, political interference would be taken out of the equation, say the executives.

Seshasayee says INCableNet would be introducing new digital channels over the next three months that covered the gamut of genres. A total of 140 channels of which 40 would be pay driven is what is being envisaged for INCableNet, says Seshasayee. talks are currently on with various content service providers in different parts of the globe towards this end, he adds.

"Additionally, we have started our PPV (pay per view) service," Seshasayee pointed out. PPV along with the electronic programming guide (EPG) are some of the value adds that the consumer who opted for the STB would be able to avail of.

"Right now the effort is towards increasing our capacity in terms of channels," the HTMT CTO says. "It will take a few months before a final channel list is ready," he adds.

According to Seshasayee, only those in it for the long haul would be able to get onto the CAS bandwagon. Three years is the minimum it would take before any worthwhile revenues start flowing in, he believes.

Hathway is also talking in terms of a premium offering. An example of this is The History Channel, that is scheduled to launch in India some time in November on the Star platform. According to Hathway executives, one of the possibilities being discussed is to make The History Channel accessible only through the STB.

The way the system works is something like this. Assuming that out of 100 households, two opt for the STB. Only these two households would be able to receive ( via decryption through the STB) the extra channels that are available as part of the CAS tier. As for the remaining 98 households, they would continue to get the same channels they are receiving today at the same price - till the expected pay channel rate hikes take effect at the end of the year that is.

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