It’s a SCaT man’s world!

MUMBAI: The SCaT (Satellite and Cable TV) trade show in its 22nd year took place at the World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade here over the weekend between 25 and 27 October. The show received a great response with all the stalls sold out. The show was buzzing with energy and enthusiasm.

“I feel like a kid in a candy shop, I am really spoilt for choice. I would love to check out all the new products and try out a few,” said one of the visitors.

According to the organisers, they had to take additional hall space to cater to the higher demand from exhibitors. It was deliberately held over a weekend to make it convenient for outstation visitors and the number of registrations clearly out did the previous years on both days. Several operators from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh attended in groups and of course from all over India too.

The show attracts visitors to review and purchase products from over 150 companies and brands, not only from India but worldwide. Over 40 international companies participated in the show this time around. The focus of SCaT 2013 was to showcase attractively priced digital headend products to meet the needs of smaller cable TV networks looking to migrate to digital cable TV within a year.

In fact, the entire idea to hold the exhibition is to make work easier for the people in the industry, say the organisers, who also come out with a monthly magazine, SCaT. “We launched the magazine in 1993 and it was the first trade publication catering to the satellite and cable TV industry in the south-Asian region. Simultaneously, we also started organising the SCaT Trade show for which we got huge appreciation,” says SCaT Media & Consultancy publisher and MD Sudeep Malhotra.

According to Malhotra, the entire idea was to cash in on the growing cable TV industry, which was at a nascent stage at that time. “There was a big barrier between the manufacturers of cable TV products and the cable operators who were the buyers. They could only connect through the shopkeepers, who at times were not really helpful. So, if an operator was looking for an amplifier, he would be supplied only those products that was available at the shops. He may not even be aware of the better products that are being manufactured,” says Sudeep, who with the magazine and the trade show wanted to bridge that gap.

The organisers hosted the first show in February 1993 and had just nine companies on board. In the same year in October, the show had 30 companies participating which was a huge jump for the organisers. “Over the years, we have been growing at a rate of almost 20 to 30 per cent. Now, we have 156 companies on board, with participation of about 21 countries,” says Malhotra, also adding that they have special permissions from the government to get the products from other countries.

The footfall has increased considerably too - from 300 people in the first show over three days to almost 18,000 in the present show. “We have visitors not just from India but from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka etc as well. We also have cable associations visiting the show in groups of 100, 200 from various states in India,” says Malhotra.

The exhibition was spread across two buildings and witnessed a great response in terms of visitors. The show had a great mix of companies varying from those providing headend equipments to those providing end to end solutions. There was also a prominent presence of news channels like Captain TV (Chennai) and Channel News Asia (Singapore).

Satellite & Cable TV Magazine editor and executive publisher Dinyar Contractor expounded, “We hold this exhibition annually to let the industry get together under one roof and explore the new products that are available or will soon be available in the market. We at SCaT believe that the opportunities are manifold at this show and the industry can benefit at large.”

With the DAS rollout and impending phase III and IV implementation, the focus was but naturally on affordable digital headends and STBs which are cost efficient for small networks of the smaller towns that are not MSO dominated. Like always, it was the Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean manufacturers who dominated. Interestingly, the key Indian hardware companies like Catvision, Channel Master, Saibaba Electronics among others had all tied up with international manufacturers and were offering complete end to end DAS solutions. 

“While clearly the focus was on hardware, the middleware and software vendors offering value added services, SMS and billing integration were yet to see significant traction. Also on display was the sole HITS service provider JainHits offering complete services including content, having recently won his legal case against the aggregator/distributors,” said media analyst Sanjeev Hiremath.

One of the products that caught everyone’s attention was the Android OTT IP-STBs - these are set top boxes that function on an Android 4.0 and can be easily synced with any device - which can enable internet surfing, listening to online music via WiFi or Ethernet interface. The STB also supports Live TV watching and VoD if the user has an account with the solution provider.

Another attraction at the event was Gaian Solutions’ new product through which cable operators and DTH players can now customise the advertisements being aired not only within states, but also within the city limit. “The new technology helps you to air different ads at the same time. So if in south Mumbai, a consumer will see a Mercedes ad on TV during a programme, another consumer in other part of the city can watch a different ad, according to the need of the market,” informed Gaian Solutions director-operations Mrigesh Gaurav.

The lobby of the Taj Vivanta President where most of the participants stayed was also a meeting place for networking and also became the hotspot for the trade party on the penultimate day.

All in all, it was an exciting and eventful three days of knowledge enhancement, serious business and networking.

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