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Lukup gets MSO licence, plans to launch service by August-end
MUMBAI: Bengaluru-based over-the-top (OTT) player Lukup Media has received provisional multi-system operator (MSO) registration from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) and is readying to launch its service by August-end.
The OTT player, which is planning to provide bundled cable TV and broadband services, also expects to receive a unified licence from the Department of Telecom (DoT) this month.
“The unified licence is under process. We expect to get it this month,” he added.
Borah also informed that the services would be rolled out by the end of August in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
“We will commence operations towards end-August. We are currently doing network trials in four cities, namely Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Once trials are done, we will commence operations,” he stated.
The company has already signed contracts with about 100 cable operators and distributors in these four cities. The cable operators and distributors will work with Lukup sales team to mop up subscribers.
“We will pay a servicing fee to cable operators per month per customer. The cable operators will service the customers,” he said when asked about the commercial arrangement between Lukup and cable operators.
Lukup plans to provide television and broadband services through its propriety Lukup Media Player.
The Lukup Media Player has been designed in-house and is manufactured in the company’s Bengaluru plant. “For this year, we are planning around two million units in terms of factory orders,” he said.
The capacity of the company’s Bengaluru line is only half a million. To address this shortfall, it plans to increase it to 2–5 million units.
“We may or may not be able to do this in India. We are talking to contract manufacturers outside India also,” he said.
Without revealing names, Borah said that Lukup works with a large number of suppliers from America, Europe and Asia. Few select parts are sourced from India also.
Apart from these four markets, Lukup is also planning to launch in other cities in South India and the NCR (Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon). “We plan to scale up to 55 cities,” he said.
Borah said that Lukup would compete with traditional distribution platforms. “We will compete with DTH, MSOs and broadband providers. This is the first time somebody is selling bundled service,” he averred.
Borah also revealed that the TV + broadband service would be available below Rs 1,000, including the cost of Lukup Media Player. Customers will get a single bill for all the services and the device.
“Customers will get internet and TV for Rs 900 and the device will be included as part of the plan. Earlier, we were planning to charge separately for the hardware, but now we are giving the device as part of the plan so there is no need to pay for hardware separately,” Borah revealed.
While it is yet to ink deals with broadcasters, Borah said that the plan is to provide 400 channels. Apart from linear channels, Lukup will also provide VoD channels.
“We will provide all the linear channels that the current MSOs provide, besides VoD channels. Currently, we have 15 VoD channels that will carry tens of thousands of titles including movies and shows,” he noted.
He said that broadcasters are keen to work with Lukup because they see potential to earn revenue from non-traditional streams.
“Broadcasters are keen to offer content because ours is a completely digital platform. They can do value-added content like catch-up TV, pay-per-view, etc. The platform allows broadcasters to earn money from various products.”
On the kind of deals being discussed with broadcasters, Borah said it would be a mix of various things like revenue share and fixed fee.
Currently, the investment in the project is primarily coming from promoters and few external investors. The total investment in the project is estimated at Rs 500–600 crore (Rs 5-6 billion) for next two years.
“As promoters, we are putting in a lot of money and we are looking at PE funds also as and when it is available,” Borah stated.