The Maharashtra Cable Operators’ Federation (MCOF), organized on 23 November its education seminar in Mumbai.
Held in Hindi and English, around 400 Last Mile Operators (LMOs) travelled from neighboring states like Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Karnataka for it.
The first session was to educate LMOs about the importance of customer care and enhancing the quality of service. Vishwamangal Education CEO Suman Keluskar who deals in soft skills highlighted the need for LMOs to be well groomed as well as train their subordinates to be the same to make customers feel good.
“The reason why customers welcome a Pizza Hut boy is because he is nice to them," she said, stressing that customers today were ready to pay for good service but for that to happen, LMOs needed to know the opportunities available to them as well as what customers were demanding. “Innovate in your production. Use the internet to advance yourself,” she said.
Addressing the session, Castle Media director Vynsley Fernandes said that the challenges faced by the industry in transitioning from analogue to digital are part of the process that even other countries have gone through.
“There are opportunities galore for the LMOs. It’s a golden opportunity to create a new industry that provides multiple services. The LMOs should become digital service providers.”
According to Fernandes, LMOs should become a single stop solution for digital services. These services can have a large subscriber base even as traditional subscription for video services saturates.
He also urged Indian LMOs to take lessons from the US where the operators successfully adapted to digital technology by providing a host of other services apart from cable TV subscription.
The biggest challenge and also the biggest opportunity is how to monetise the optic fibre backbone. “Cable subscription revenues for LMOs will decrease but revenue from value added services will increase in future,” said Fernandes.
Drawing upon his experience in broadcast and DTH to present his project on Headends in the Sky (HITS), former Sun TV CEO Tony D’Silva said this was a good prospect for LMOs to think about.
D’Silva said that most consumers watch not more than 12 to 15 channels and so, it was necessary to create such packages and device-shifting technologies for the future.
“You are at the threshold of a game change. Our main threat is the DTH players and we need to be above them and have a robust system,” he said, stressing that HITS was a much better option for LMOs than taking signals from MSOs. Under HITS, the agreements are directly with broadcasters, there are no carriage fees, and it would yield higher revenue (Rs 108) as compared to dealing with an MSO (Rs 59.5) or even independently (Rs 85).
“The biggest cable company in the world today is Comcast. 17 million out of Comcast’s 22 million subscribers get supply services from HITS and Comcast gives its customers all the benefits that Fernandes spoke about,” said D’Silva, urging LMOs to adopt HITS through which they could choose and demand things as well as insert local channels, the revenue from which would be completely theirs.
A local cable operator from Goregaon, Bernadette Dsouza, said: “I have come for the seminar to know about new opportunities as well as how to save my business from MSOs’ domination.”
The good news is MCOF plans to hold such seminars in other states as well in the coming months.