MUMBAI: Having spent nearly 25 years in this industry, if there is one thing that has been constant over these years is the fact that there has never been a single dull moment! It’s a memorable journey which I live, learn and grow with every passing day.
Whilst I have actively represented many genres in entertainment what comes naturally to me is movies, and so to be part of an iconic brand like HBO, is not only an honour but a dream come true! The path-breaking work HBO has done globally is truly a benchmark we aspire to match and go beyond in this part of the world as well.
With growing fragmentation of this genre in India coupled with the tall challenge of not having much content differentiation between one channel and the other, it clearly calls out the need to bring something different to the consumer. In fact, the harsh reality of the day is that if one were to put their hand on the logo of a movie channel, one would never know which channel they were watching! Hence, I strongly believe that in the current context where lines of consumer loyalty are blurring, offering a holistic viewing experience with value added services would most certainly enlist consumer loyalty, moving forward. And this is exactly what we at HBO are currently doing and possibly paving a way for others to follow as well.
Over the years, HBO has graduated from being a leading 'Hollywood channel' to one of the most celebrated 'Premium Entertainment Experiences'. HBO has redefined television viewing in India through its latest offering of two 100% ad-free Premium Channels- HBO Defined and HBO Hits. Our vision is to create a cinema-like experience in the comfort of your home. In terms of content, we at HBO aim to strike a fine balance between blockbuster titles that rate year after year and our "differentiators" - critically acclaimed ‘HBO Original’ shows and movies. Now with innovative services like ‘HBO on demand’, the subscription video on demand (SVOD) service offered for free exclusively to subscribers of the HBO Premium Channels- HBO Defined and HBO Hits- on Tata Sky, we are taking the premium experience a step further. ‘HBO on demand’ provides flexibility, choice, and convenience to subscribers, putting them in complete control of what they watch, when they watch, and how they watch. ‘HBO on demand’ will give HBO Premium Subscribers access to a wide selection of HBO original content with the convenience to watch what they like, when they like. Indian audiences no longer want to be limited to viewing content at specific times and want great flexibility and choice. The HBO Premium offering is aiming to fill that need.
Having said that, we have to also admit that unfortunately, it's not such a walk in the park and in hindsight, I guess it was never meant to be! Whilst digitisation has paved the way for players like us to come out with new revenue models, the on-ground reality with the cable fraternity leaves much to be desired. Until the marriage of MSOs and LCOs doesn't get sorted in an amicable way, it would be testing our strengths for making these revenue models work. The need of the hour is for digital cable platforms to adopt learnings from DTH platforms and apply the same to fix some of the on-ground challenges. There definitely exists an opportunity for all platforms to address their growth against the backdrop of the ARPU challenge and I think, we all believe revenue-sharing models can be one of the ways forward. However, to make that happen, we need some tangible steps taken on the ground.
Being an eternal optimist and seeing the glass always half full, I sincerely hope that these problems will fade away soon and I do see some baby steps being taken in that direction which will surely pave the way forward.
If I had a genie asking me two wishes; firstly, I would ask for DTH platforms to have more bandwidth and secondly, I would ask for digital cable platforms to be more technology-ready and have a stronger customer value proposition.
Some may argue that genies don’t exist so these wishes may not come true, but I believe the bottle has been opened and it’s just a matter of time before he comes out and grants me these wishes!
(Monica Tata, managing director of HBO South Asia, was the Guest Editor Of the Day at Indiantelevision.com and the views expressed are her own.)