Paritosh Joshi: Cable on steroids

01 Jun,2012

By Paritosh Joshi

 

This week, Media Matrix comes to you live from Singapore (ok, so ignore the hyperbole).

 

Just last week we were expressing disappointment about the direction in which digitization appears to be headed with cable not being able to hold its own against DTH. This week, we will look at what a topflight cable system can actually bring to the party.

 

I give you StarHub.

 

Before someone points out that StarHub is Singapore’s monopoly cable operator and reaches over 99 per cent of all Singapore households, let me say it myself. While this certainly bestows advantages, StarHub also has to contend with a natural cap on the number of households it can service – just over 5 lakh by the way, with nothing left to expand to. For comparison, just the Mumbai (suburban) district has over 17 lakh households, lots of room for a good cable service to deliver compelling services and grow.

 

Here is what StarHub Interactive’s landing page looks like. Just five icons but with loads of stuff tucked away under each.

 

As you drill down, all manner of options become available. You can check the winning ticket numbers for various lotteries. You can also buy them. Under Movie Ticketing, you can find out films/screens/showtimes and also buy tickets. Under Finance, you have access to all securities and currencies traded on a range of regional and global bourses. That isn’t all.  You can set up your own portfolio, complete with buy/sell triggers, reminders and even connect to your trading account to execute orders.

 

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to conceive of the endless range of possibilities such a service could deliver in India. Remember that vastly more consumers are familiar with the TV ‘UI’ – the good old remote – than with the user interfaces offered by browsers and apps.

 

Also, each of these services will find participation interest from whole categories of vendors. Financial intermediaries wanting to develop retail interest in a wide range of saving, investment and insurance products will compete to be on the platform. Every personal and domestic service provider will crave for the customer base. Banks will offer payment gateway facilities to encourage use of credit and debit cards in a more secure environment than the open internet. The nascent Indian homeshopping industry would positively lap up the possibility of concluding transactions in real time. Each of these will be an income opportunity for the cable platform operator, providing an additional B2B revenue stream and accelerating amortization of capital investment in high quality digital infrastructure.

 

But is the cable community listening?

 

Post Script: Regulatory Overreach

Those who have been involved with the Television industry long enough might recall Mr. Pradeep Baijal, Chairman- TRAI from 2003 to 2006 commenting to the effect that once the last mile to the consumer’s home became competitive, there would be no case left for tariff regulation and the TRAI would switch to forbearance as it was progressively doing in its primary, telecommunication domain.

 

What has actually happened is quite the opposite. The Authority has got ever deeper into tariff regulation. Funnily enough, the entire thrust of the regulatory exercise is in the wrong place. We will deal with what is wrong with TRAI’s television tariff regulation strategy in a subsequent piece but does anyone else share this view? Please use that comment box below. I will be waiting to hear from you.

 

Paritosh Joshi was until recently CEO, Star CJ. He has been a marketer, a mediaperson and been a key officebearer on industry bodies. He can reached via his Twitter handle @paritoshZero.

Media Matrix appears every Thursday. Due to an oversight, we didn’t carry it yesterday… sorry!-Ed.

 

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