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IMCL aspires to hit 7 mn subscribers in a year

The digital distribution platform currently stands with almost 5 million subscribers

MUMBAI: At a time when the face of India’s multi-billion dollar cable industry is changing rapidly with the emergence of new players, IndusInd Media & Communication Ltd (IMCL), one of the oldest players in the industry, has announced a new offering ‘I Am Mumbai, I Am InDigital’. Consisting of premium 22-channel bouquet of ad-free content, the initiative is aimed at providing viewers with a 360-degree experience. The digital distribution platform standing with almost 5 million subscriber base predicts to reach 7 million subscribers over next four quarters.

The newly announced expansive range of content under the “NXT Services” brand is available to InDigital customers as well as NXT Digital customers across India. From rhymes, cartoons and movies for kids to dubbed movies in regional languages, cooking, music, the bouquet has content from various genres. However, pricing for the ad-free premium channels has not been decided yet.

“While we have technology pushing our bouquet and opening our channels, we have realised that we have to give people what they want, not what we want them to have. So we cater to each and every age group. Overall this has been our endeavour to upgrade our approach for our city of Mumbai,” IMCL CEO Vynsley Fernandes said.

To cater to every customer based on their different requirement and affordability, InDigital has also presented a range of next-generation set-top boxes (STBs). The new products include Standard Definition (SD) Zapper, High Definition (HD) Zapper, HD basic hybrid, HD Dual Tuner, HD Advanced Hybrid, 4K Android Hybrid and along with OTT device from group company ONE Fiber with prices ranging from Rs 1000 to Rs 5000.

For the OTT box, it has partnered with streaming platform Viu. Speaking about more tie-ups, ONEOTT iNTERTAINMENT LTD(OIL) CEO Yugal K Sharma said that more partnerships are in the pipeline. “As far as I can see today, there will be 10 more strategic alliances I have to do. We are not into the internet business anymore; it is called CDCA (Connectivity, Devices ecosystem, Content and Applications),” Sharma said.

“The whole industry is now shaping up and moving towards intertainment (entertainment moving on to the internet). I firmly believe that all the Ps are given - product, pricing, placement, promotion, packaging and people strategy which is 97 per cent the same for everyone. We already had our underground fibre systems in Mumbai and all the major metros, which was built for cable TV. Now, we are leveraging that for broadband as well. We have fibre system ready in 32 cities. We have a slight edge over Reliance Jio because we started rolling out our 1 GB plans about two months back,” Sharma commented while asked about competition with Reliance Jio.

While in broadband segment Jio FTTH is a prime competitor, DTH players pose a challenge to traditional cable players. However, IMCL is not losing confidence owing to its Headend-in-the-Sky(HITS) technology. The HITS platform is on C-band keeping it unaffected from any weather change. But DTH platforms being on the KU band are susceptible to any change in weather. Moreover, the channels provided under HITS technology are priced at low cost. Hence, the company claims HITS as the direct competitor of DTH services.

Through the HITS services, the company also wants to grow a subscriber base in rural areas. However, other than pure penetration, the company is focusing on managed service business. The smaller MSOs, last mile owners who are keen to embrace digital distribution can migrate by using the technology, rather than making own investment. Even IMCL can take the existing technology and repurpose it.

Other than technological changes, the new TRAI tariff order is going to disrupt the broadcast and cable industry. Though the matter is still sub judice in the apex court, Fernandes thinks technology readiness to provide so many packages is going to be a challenge for distributors. Moreover, as content preference varies from region to region, smart packaging and segmentation are going to be driving factors.

Though IMCL is putting high focus on new technologies, the in-house engineering team has come up with innovative designs using minimal capex, even less than 100k. In the next one year, it will definitely like to target the sale of over 2 million STBs.

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