Jaldi 5 with Joydip Kapadia: As we approach a month of digitization, Mum, Del nearly 95%, Cal: 80%

It will be a month of mandatory digitization in the three metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. MxMIndia spoke to Joydip Kapadia, Business Head, Television Street Maps on the progress made so far

 

01. According to Television Street Maps estimates, how much digitization has actually been achieved in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata?

We cannot comment on the exact numbers as there is too much of flux in these markets between DAS, DTH, Analogue. Hence, we would prefer to give a range estimate as follows: Mumbai and Delhi together are tending towards the 95% mark. Kolkata is trailing with less than 80%.

 

02. Evidently, a lot of the process is work in progress… how many of the set-top boxes have been installed in the month of November alone?

Yes. The pace of seeding has been pretty impressive with just under 35 lakh boxes seeded in November. Delhi leads the pack with more than 15 lakhs seedings. Followed by Kolkata with more than 12 lakh boxes. Mumbai was earlier seeded well and has added another 4.5 lakhs boxes in November.

 

03. Do you see many switchovers from cable to DTH given the confusion?

In the early part of 2012, we had seen a far greater enthusiasm with DTH expecting a large gain from cable. In a few cases, that expectation was as high as 30% of the total analog base within these metros would switch to DTH. However, the reality has been a little different. Cable has not lost as many homes as many on the DTH side had expected.

 

04. How has the roll-out of Channel Packs been by the cable MSOs?

While all major players have now introduced their packs, we have a few observations:-

 

1. The packs have been rolled out – but not so much to end consumers. Cable Pack sales in the truest sense, in our estimate, is still 8-9 months away.

2. There are fewer packs per cable operator vis-a-vis their DTH counterparts. This is bound to increase in days to come.

3. The first approach seems to be National packs even for operators who are expected eventually to move to Regional/ Local packs.

4. The systems at the MSO end are still not fully/ seamlessly integrated. Hence we are finding strange discrepancies of channels available on packs even when those are not being relayed by the MSO’s headend. We expect some of these teething issues to be ironed out in days to come.

 

05. Any broad lessons as we embark on Phase 2 of digitization?

a. The two back-to-back deadlines for Mumbai-Delhi-Kolkata could be avoided in the second phase. If individual MSOs/ Cable operators are known to expedite box seeding closer to the deadline, we need a more effective push for all key players to start seeding in time rather than at the 11th hour.

b. DTH cannot assume that it will gain automatically due to the flux. They cannot assume that just heavy advertising and price promos will do the trick. Extensive ground efforts/ initiatives will be needed.

c. The seduction and mating rituals between distributor companies and MSOs should start much in advance. Waiting for the last minute will only mean signal disruption to consumers.

d. Distributor Companies would have to insist on getting subscriber visibility from the SMS of Regional Operators within the 38 cities as part of their deals. Succumbing to quick wins of minimum guarantee/ fixed deals would again put broadcasters in the same spot where their fortunes remain disconnected from number of subscribers.

 

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