KOLKATA: At the beginning of the Covid2019 crisis, distribution platform operators (DPOs) witnessed a sharp drop in collections from subscribers. After months of lockdown and controlled movements, major multi-system operators (MSOs) are seeing stability in their collections from June end.
According to a survey done by business intelligence enterprise Intin titled ‘Cable TV Fitness Check’ published in late May, the collection dropped for 84 per cent of cable operators, which was attributed to the unwillingness for digital payment and the lack of infrastructure, coupled with the social distancing norms.
GTPL Hathway CATV business head and chief strategy officer Piyush Pankaj says that they have recovered the collections once the opening up started. Moreover, many new consumers have opted for digital payment. Hence, the payment collection issue has stabilised. Pankaj also added while 10-15 per cent of total collection dipped at the beginning of the pandemic, the scene has changed June onwards leading to 100 per cent recovery in the collection.
Siti Networks Ltd CEO Anil Malhotra also echoes the same tone. According to him, the collection dropped by 20-25 per cent in March-April. While it recovered, there is still five to six per cent lag. However, he mentions that it is still facing an issue on the side of placement and marketing.
While UCN Cable Network director Jagdish Paliya states that two to three per cent recovery is still left, the collection is not difficult at this moment. There was 15 per cent drop in collection till May as the stringent lockdown made it difficult for last mile operators to reach the consumers.
IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd (IMCL) CEO Vynsley Fernandes also reflects the positive sentiment of his peers in the industry. As everyone is adjusting to the new normal, some amount of stability has come, especially in terms of collection. He highlights another important trend that more consumers are paying digitally through payment gateways like Google Pay, PayTM, etc.
Malhotra also agrees to the surge in digital payment from consumers but he notes that it is still not substantial despite a noticeable improvement. On the other hand, Pankaj says there has been an overwhelming surge in digital payment from the consumers’ side in the last four months. While it was 30-35 per cent pre-Covid2019 time, it has now reached 80-85 per cent. Metrocast Network Services promoter Nagesh Chhabria also says that it has converted more consumers into digital payment mode.
With recovery, MSOs are likely to benefit from the growth in digital payments that they have witnessed during the pandemic.