cable is a game for those who have deep
pockets. Cable operators will not only have
to subsidise the boxes but the service as
well," says WWIL managing director
Jagjit Singh Kohli.
Kolkata has not seen enough of bulldozing,
it is because there is not much of demand
for STBs. But Sristi has crumbled down with
WWIL and Manthan sharing the spoils. Cablecom
is tottering but has survived.
STBs pick up in Kolkata, Incablenet and
Hathway will look at entering the market.
This will pave the way for further consolidation
as penetration will mean financing more
boxes. Manthan has already raised a debt
of Rs 100 million from individuals and is
looking at another Rs 200 million as way
of bank financing.
need for pumping in big money will be larger
as Cas spreads. In the initial phase, Hathway
is arranging for a Rs 1 billion debt while
WWIL wants to pump in Rs 7.14 billion over
two years with a plan also to acquire last
mile of cable operators.
can be disturbing is that after the initial
euphoria, the demand for boxes seems to
be already slowing when we have just crossed
400000 in a Cas market which has over 1.5
million cable and satellite homes. "If
this trend is true, it should be a matter
of concern for all the stakeholders except
the local cable operators," says Zee
Turner CEO Arun Poddar. In the Cas areas,
local cable operators are allowed to pocket
the entire Rs 77 they collect from subscribers
for the free-to-air (FTA) channels.
not as many boxes moving, broadcasters are
particularly worried as they were forced
to drop the rates of their pay channels.
The sector regulator has chalked out a policy
that makes business sense only on high volumes.
"We will need higher volumes to make
up for the pricing policy prescribed by
Trai. Besides, the boxes are not yet entirely
synchronised with the subscriber management
system that would register what channels
are subscribed by the consumers. The whole
project will depend on how fast and effective
SMS gets activised," says Poddar.
surge in demand for the boxes is expected
before the ICC World Cup starts in March.
Besides, marketing campaigns will have to
be launched promoting digitalisation. "MSOs
will have to start marketing the boxes more
aggressively. Broadcasters can also launch
joint campaigns with them," says SET
Discovery president Anuj Gandhi.
knows how the market will finally emerge.
But the trend is clear: smaller MSOs in
the Cas areas will find it difficult to
subsidise the boxes and will need to take
support of the bigger ones.
"Consolidation can start with Cas and
spread out in other areas. In many non Cas
places, we are also seeing consolidation
because of fear of losing subscribers to
direct-to-home operators," says the
head of a MSO.