Cable TV

In the brave new digital world, content could really be king

"If content is King and distribution is God, then God save the King!" That was Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma speaking at a recent industry seminar.

In these times of increasing channel influx onto already overloaded analogue cable systems, the distribution God is certainly making the content king do the merry carriage dance. Reminds one of the ever-worsening infrastructural mess that is Mumbai actually, where people are paying more and more for less and worse but with a big difference. Mumbai's is a story that is looking more hopeless by the day, while in this case there is much optimism about the future.

True, for the short to medium term, it will be the distribution God in whose hands will lie the fate of the content King. But once the dust has settled on all of this and the new platforms like digital cable, DTH, IPTV and mobile TV have reached critical mass, then it will be content that will hold sway, and how.

True, for the short to medium term, it will be the distribution God in whose hands will lie the fate of the content King


Disney's ABC network is already pointing one of the ways forward with its new online service of free programming. As part of a two-month-long experiment, Disney-ABC Television Group will be offering ad-supported, full-length episodes of four ABC primetime series online at

What's the logic working here? Is ABC getting Get 'Desperate' and 'Lost' as regards its online strategy. Not at all. It all makes sense if we keep in mind that if there is one place where the dominant culture is to access content for free, it is the Web.

So if ABC is trying to transpose the "traditional advertising driven network model" onto the Web there is already an inbuilt advantage over television. It is that while the whole TiVo, time-shifting, DVR mentality is now carrying over to the Web, the consumer cannot zap out the ads. And since many of the ads will be interactive, advertisers will be guaranteed even greater value.

The content creators that stay ahead of the curve and the distribution platform providers most alive to the challenges and opportunities that the digital world offers will be the ones who will reap the benefits


Closer to home, companies like Reliance and Airtel expect to start IPTV services by the end of this year. And for a basic package they are promising rates as cheap as your current cable TV charges. No one is trying to say there won't be teething problems (and knowing the ground realities here, these would probably be pretty severe). In India the biggest problem is going to be unbundling of the so called last mile, which basically means that incumbent operators like BSNL or MTNL should allow other operators to use their copper wires.

With the imminent arrival of Tata-Sky DTH, Zee's Dish TV ramping up and the big telecom players aggressively pushing ahead with IPTV and mobile TV, the value of quality content can only go up. We see some sort of shakeout --- both on the content as well as the technology side by 2008.

In the meanwhile, the content creators that stay ahead of the curve and the distribution platform providers most alive to the challenges and opportunities that the digital world offers will be the ones who will reap the benefits.

There could well be a lesson in this for the cable fraternity too. Market forces could soon make the whole CAS debate irrelevant and the MSOs may well end up "missing the addressability bus".

Maybe MSOs should instead be focussing their efforts on attractively packaging and marketing CAS to their direct points to begin with and concurrently convincing their franchisees of the need to get CAS going, government or no government.

The cable fraternity has a huge first mover advantage vis-?-vis pushing addressability because they own the last mile. Maybe they should as aggressively be chasing market-driven addressability as they are the mandating of CAS. A twin strategy would better cover their bases one would think.

As for the content game, to quote John Hendricks, chairman of Discovery Communications Inc, from a recent report: "Newly empowered TV consumers will drive networks to improve their offerings, putting a 'great squeeze' on 'marginal quality content'. They're in control now."

Not in India, they're not. But they will be. Of that nobody need have any doubt.

Latest Reads
Competition regulator okays Goldman Sachs stake purchase in Den Networks

Investment banking major Goldman Sachs has received the Competition Commission's approval to increase its stake in Den Networks to over 24 per cent by acquiring additional shares through preferential allotment route.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
DAS petitions challenging constitutional provisions listed for 3 November

With the division bench taking cognisance of several cases relating the digital addressable system (DAS) Phase III which challenge constitutional provisions, the Delhi High Court will hear the DAS cases on 3 November, 2016

Cable TV DAS
MSOs finally cross 1000 as pan-India DAS deadline nears

With less than three months to go for the deadline of the final phase which will complete cable digitlization all over the country, the total number of multi-system operators has finally crossed 1000 with 774 getting provisional licences till 30 September 2016.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Several DAS III petitions may be transferred to Division Bench of Delhi High Court

NEW DELHI: The Digital Addressable System (DAS) Phase III legal wrangle is moving on, albeit slowly and steadily.  Lawyers appearing on behalf of the multi-system cable TV operators (MSO) will inform a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court about a large volume of cases relating to DAS III...

Cable TV DAS
Going a la carte with Star and Indiacast has helped: Bibhu Prasad Rath

Bhibu Rath heads one of the small regional cable TV players in the TV distribution business: Ortel Communications. The MSO began as a local player in the state of Odisha. But, it has since spread into neighboring states such as Chattishgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. In fact, it...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Bihar govt trebles cable TV entertainment tax to Rs 50

Even as the government is working on subsuming entertainment and other incidental taxes into a goods and service tax (GST) which would be around 18 per cent, cable TV subscribers in Bihar are about to be delivered a blow to their wallets.

Cable TV Multi System Operators
DEN seeks Goldman Sachs investment nod from shareholders

MUMBAI: Leading Indian multisystem cable TV operator (MSO) DEN Networks –promoted by Sameer Manchanda- which got its board’s nod to issue another 1.58 crore shares at a price of Rs 90 per share to existing investor Goldman Sachs is now seeking shareholder approval for the same through an...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
NXT Digital-InCable merger gets shareholder nod; D’Silva bemoans lack of ecosystem support

MUMBAI: Hinduja Ventures Ltd’s (HVL’s) proposal to demerge its NXT Digital headend in the sky (HITS) business from its subsidiary Grant Investrade Ltd (GIL) and merge it into its cable TV MSO offshoot Indusind Media & Communications Ltd (IMCL) got the thumbs up from its shareholders at its...

Cable TV Multi System Operators
Comcast to launch wireless service using Verizon

Here is good news for all Comcast subscribers. The US cable giant’s chief executive Brian Roberts has announced the launch of a wireless service by mid-2017. It plans to create a service that would run on its 15 million WiFi hotspots and use Verizon's wireless network through a deal struck in 2011...

Cable TV Multi System Operators

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories