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GroundPost: Packaging, HD channels and VAS key to ARPU growth

MUMBAI: Central to the success of digitisation is the growth of average revenue per user (ARPU). But with the revenue share between the multi-system operators (MSO) and the local cable operators (LCO) still unsettled, the other wheels like packaging and selling of value-added services (VAS) are yet to move.

Short-term niggles notwithstanding, the broadcast industry is buoyant owing to the opportunities provided by digital addressable system (DAS) to provide quality service to consumers and grow ARPU.

The panel discussion on ‘How to raise APRUs’ at GroundPost’s inaugural event in Solapur saw panellists share ideas and experiences on growing ARPU, something which has remained a pipedream for the broadcast industry.

Sibabrata Das, Neeta Thakre, Milind Karnik and Amit Arora

Sibabrata Das, Neeta Thakre, Milind Karnik and Amit Arora

IndiaCast EVP Amit Arora believes that unless all stakeholders in the value chain come together, ARPU will not go up. He observed that innovative packaging, coupled with HD channels, can help in lifting ARPU.

Arora also said that leading broadcasters were planning to put Hindi general entertainment channels (GECs) in the second pay pack to increase ARPU but the content aggregators’ regulation brought it to a halt.

Hathway Cable & Datacom operations head for the West Milind Karnik said that ARPU has been a casualty of the ongoing tussle between broadcasters, multi-system operators (MSOs) and last mile operators (LMOs).

“Rather than fighting each other, we must come together to offer better services to our consumers. To grow ARPU, offering innovate packaging, broadband services and services like movies on demand is a must,” said Karnik.

FoodFood distribution head Neeta Thakare said that LMOs have a great advantage as they interact with consumers directly and know their requirements.

With cable TV digitisation, LMOs can offer niche channels that they were not able to offer in the bandwidth-choked analogue era.

“LMOs and broadcasters need to work hand in hand to understand the kind of content consumers want. This will help broadcasters to provide content that consumers want,” Thakare said.

Arora asserted that unless packaging is implemented, ARPU will not increase. Apart from innovative packaging, MSOs and broadcasters need to work together on tiering packages to suit the needs of different consumers.

HD channels, he said, are underexploited on cable and there is a lot that can be done in this space. HD channels are big drivers of ARPU.

Thakare, on the other hand, stated that VAS provide a great opportunity for MSOs and LMOs to grow ARPU. She pointed out that direct-to-home (DTH) operators like Tata Sky are offering VAS services like English learning that can also be replicated in cable.

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