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IDOS 2014: ‘Customer is the King and not the Content’

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GOA: Content is the king is a passé; in today’s world it is the customer which rules.

Businesses across the world understand that involving their customers will help them innovate and provide better products and services. The same goes for the Indian cable television industry. The players believe that the core intention of digitisation was not just converting the analogue signal into digital one, but to offer choice to the customers.

 “One key element, which we all missed out in the phase I and II of digitisation is the customer, itself. Customer is the king and not the content. Customer decides whether ARPUs will go up or not. Hence, a methodology needs to be found by all the stakeholders,” said Hinduja Group MD and IMCL CEO Tony D’silva while adding that if  a customer wants broadband, VAS or cable, we have to give it to him/her as per the need.

He was speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Digitisation: The phase III and phase IV Challenge’ held at IDOS 2014.

Ortel Communication CEO BP Rath said that the core intention of digitisation was not to decrease the carriage fee but to increase the ARPUs. “The aim was to offer choice to the customers; those who want more services, will pay more or otherwise,” he said and added that he is happy with the delay in dates for digitisation in phase III and IV as the players would get more time to understand the needs of their clients.

“It was inevitable. Most of the people sitting here don’t know what India is. The lessons are simple. Except for seeding boxes in phase I and II, nothing much has been done. Customers’ choice was not taken into consideration in earlier phases,” he said.

Instead of taking the top-down approach, we should work from customers’ perspective and integrate those into our plans, suggested Rath.

Speaking in the same tone, CSG International south Asia vice president Letchu Narayanan said that customer experience matters the most. The industry should shift focus to customer as it is a customer-driven industry.

Essel Group’s Dish TV CEO RC Venkateish feels that in phase III and IV there is a need for regional and low price offerings in around 70-80 million cable TV homes, which are yet to be digitized. He said that even though the players have different models, customer addressability is the need of the hour.

On the content and the challenges to be handled in phase III and IV, Venkateish said the DTH players are working on different packages as per the customers need. “The road for better revenue can be achieved if all solve the problem together,” he said.

Talking about the Dish TV business model, he said India is a big market and there are different needs. The company reports around 55 per cent of its revenue from the mass as only 15-20 per cent customers go for HD channels. “It all depends on the purchasing power,” he said.

Maharashtra Cable Operators Foundation (MCOF) president Arvind Prabhoo said the players are mulling to offer choices to customers by not only providing network, Wi-Fi but also ensuring that the up-gradation is done before the next rollout.

Agreeing with others Sagar E-Technologies executive director Sudish Kumar further elaborated that by understanding the needs of the customers, the industry players can establish the market well. “Every cable TV home in our network will connected with internet. If a customer will get a taste of it then it will contribute to the ARPU. We might not charge for cable, at all,” he proposed.

The public broadcaster, Doordarshan, also has the same opinion that customer has to play a key role in digitisation. Doordarshan deputy director general CK Jain said, “Doordarshan is trying to ensure that people, who can’t afford the subscription of cable and DTH, we will provide value to them.”

Cable TV Operators Association (COA) president Nassir Hassan Anwar talking about the preference of the customers in the southern region of the country said the demand for Hindi channels among the customers is comparatively less hence, the packages are designed keeping that in mind.

So, going forward if customers’ needs are addressed, cable digitisation in India offers huge opportunity for all the stakeholders.

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