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GTPL Hathway looks to expand cable TV subs by over 50% in 3 years

It is looking at reaching a base of 12 million.

KOLKATA: The debate surrounding the future of cable operators in India has become more pressing in the wake of the Covid2019 crisis, which spurred the growth of over-the-top platforms and emergence of deep-pocket content aggregators. Despite the challenges in the present ecosystem, GTPL Hathway is looking at growing its cable TV subscriber base by more than 50 per cent in the next three years to reach a base of 12 million subscriber base, the company revealed in the Q3 FY21 earnings call.

To reach its three-year vision, it is relying on a two-pronged strategy, a combination of “push and pull”. GTPL Hathway cable TV head and chief strategy officer Piyush Pankaj said that MSOs have followed the push strategy till date by giving the schemes, benefits to partner LCOs and asking them to bring the customer back from the DTH, from the ground. On the other side, the pull strategy reaches customers directly or relies on advertisements, Pankaj explained. As a part of the second method, it plans to offer schemes directly to consumers and pay TV users it wants to convert from DTH to the cable business side.

GTPL has already launched Chhatri Hataao GTPL Lagao campaign just before the pandemic hit the industry. The company resumed the campaign in August and again had to stop it in October. However, it is going to follow the mixed strategy going forward.

“We launched this Festival Dhamaka in the markets we’re present in. Right now we are expanding in the north east, and have launched Chhatri Hataao GTPL Lagao there too. The responses are very good and slowly we are going to launch this all over India level as the situation improves,” Pankaj stated.

There are 60 million independent cable subscribers base and 60 million DTH subscriber base which must be targeted by organised cable operators, Pankaj explained, as they have just 35-40 million subscriber base so far. Moreover, the 130 million non-TV households in India should also be taken into consideration. Hence, he is of the view that there are still huge opportunities on the cable TV side. He also noted that at some point in future, the company has to start combining broadband opportunities with the cable TV segment for better consumer stickiness.

GTPL Hathway is going to deploy Rs 300 crore capex for FY 22. It will be spending around Rs 160-170 crores on the broadband side and rest Rs 130 to 140 crores on the cable TV side. The MSO also hopes to pick up home pass addition in FY 22  reaching the FY 20 level as it has slowed down in FY 21 due to the pandemic. It incurred around Rs 237 crores of capex during 9M FY21, where Rs 110 crores have gone into the broadband business and the rest Rs 127 crores into the cable business.

Although expansion in new markets has also slowed down in FY 21, the MSO has started connecting north east and making its foothold stronger in Tamil Nadu, where it launched in December 2019. GTPL Hathway has an aggressive expansion plan for the north eastern reaches in store. While it has already forayed into Tripura and Mizoram, it is eyeing to enter Nagaland and Meghalaya very soon. GTPL Hathway is also strengthening its presence in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. From the three new markets including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tripura, it expects to generate 600-700K new subscribers annually.

“On the cable side, we have not changed anything on the pricing or packaging side right now as the 9M FY21 was troublesome for everyone. Consumer spending has gone down. So, we have not changed anything with the LCOs also. We are still the lowest in the industry as I said that will be the 70:30 ratio (for revenue share) which is there with the operators and we are continuing that way. Going forward, we will see at the appropriate time then we will change these ratios. However, we will wait for NTO 2.0 to come,” Pankaj added.

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