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GroundPost: How to raise cable TV ARPU in Agra

AGRA: The Agra cable market has been historically a low ARPU (average revenue per user) market. Even after a year-and-a-half of digital addressable system (DAS), the ARPU has not increased. Now there is a truce among the MSOs and efforts are on to increase the ARPU to Rs 150.

At a panel discussion as part of the Agra edition of TelevisionPost.com’s digital initiative GroundPost, industry experts deliberated on the ways to increase the ARPU in Agra.

Talking about the way forward, DEN Networks’ Prakash Gupta said that local cable operators (LCOs) should educate the consumer about the need to increase the cable bill. Public need to know that entertainment is cheapest among all the things. “Rather than wasting time on other things, just tell consumers to pay Rs 10 per day. They will understand,” Gupta said. “If you keep charging them Rs 50 for a month, why will they pay more?”

Agra-event-3-session-for-sty

From L to R: Prakash Gupta, Sandeep Batra, Jagraj Singh Sangera, Anil Bhargav and Himanshu Dhoreliya

LCO representative Anil Bhargav said, “The rates need to go up, either under pressure, or by mutual understanding. If we manage to increase collection from ground, it will be the biggest achievement.”

Gupta also said that LCOs will have to take a hard stance. “Tell consumers to pay up or else you will take back the set-top box (STB) as they are not consumers’ property,” Gupta stated.

To this, Bhargav added that LCOs will take the hard stance, but MSOs should be a bit lenient with them.

“We will collect from the ground and will talk hard with the consumers. But we will need a helping hand from the MSOs. Don’t expect us to pay up upfront,” Bhargav said.

Singh said that entertainment tax is another big issue that LCOs are facing.

Hathway’s Sandeep Batra said that in order to help LCOs to collect monthly bills from consumers, they will resume their technology, which allows its LCOs to switch off signals in case of non-payments.

“LCOs have direct link with the subscriber. So they will have to pull up socks and employ some manpower to go and talk to the customers about the reality that prices have increased. Once you increase your collection, you will get better share, we will be able to save some money, and broadcasters will also get their fair share,” Batra said.

He added that the customer has deep pockets. “He can pay. He is the same customer who is going to watch one film and spend over Rs 1,000 for one film. He will pay Rs 200 and even tax on that. We all have to sit together and make a strategy,” Batra said.

Giving the broadcaster’s point of view, MSM Discovery’s Jagraj Singh Sangera said that LCOs and MSOs need to start charging as per the value of services they are providing. “Give a choice to the consumer, understand him and then derive value. There is a need for transparency, which will help in driving ARPU.”

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