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DAS: Market swings in Indore

Indore is a trouble-maker’s market. Multi-system operators (MSOs) have been warring, local cable operators (LCOs) have been migrating to rival networks on sweet offers and leadership positions have tumbled.

The cable TV rulers of this commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh have had no long ride. Over a decade back, Siti Cable and IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd (IMCL) had left the battlefield. In this game of house of cards, print major Dainik Bhaskar Group entered through Bhaskar Multinet, dominated and later, in 2008, diluted 51 per cent stake to Hathway Cable & Datacom. Thereafter, Digicable Network India sprung up and ousted Hathway from its leadership position.

With the onset of digital addressable system (DAS) in 2013, the entire market dynamics changed. Ahead of DAS, Siti Cable surfaced, Hathway bought out Bhaskar’s residuary stake in January 2013, Nagpur-based MSO UCN acquired Atria Convergence Technologies, GTPL took 50 per cent stake in local MSO Sri Raghav G and financially-stressed Digicable lost ground.

As the field of players expanded, the market got further dirtied. MSOs started poaching LCOs from rival networks, boxes were swapped, and subscription revenue lay uncollected on the ground. While establishing their market share, the MSOs dug financial holes in their pockets even as the LCOs enjoyed a free ride.

Battle-scarred, the four MSOs entered into a truce early this year. Hathway, Siti Cable, GTPL and UCN smoked the peace pipe and decided to move forward on the business of digitisation. Digicable, vulnerable, shaken and beaten, was left out in the open to fend for itself amid financial crisis and attacks from the other MSOs.

Market shares have finally got defined and accepted. Hathway is the market leader with a deployment of 125,000 set-top boxes (STB), followed by Siti Cable. Any attempt at upsetting the hierarchy will require capital and it will give the highly organised LCOs a tool to enjoy the spoils.

How the MSOs stack up

MSO
STBs seeded
Hathway125,000
Siti Cable75,000
Digicable37,000
GTPL35,000
UCN32,000

Still, Digicable is a target. Settling at the bottom, UCN is plotting to take away LCOs, and thus, subscribers from Digicable. But that will have to come at some price. So, what is on offer? While LCOs will be required to purchase the STBs outright, their subscription revenue payout to UCN will be lower for a year.

Incidentally, national MSO DEN Networks has no presence in Madhya Pradesh. In the 5-MSO market of Indore, DEN has not wasted time to combat and set up base here. Its strategy is to focus on dominating the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh.

MSOs have seeded a total of 304,000 STBs in Indore, implying that consumers continue to prefer cable to direct-to-home (DTH) here. In fact, DTH operators are far from making a substantial impact in the city. According to market estimates, DTH has deployed 141,796 STBs, accounting for 46.6 per cent of the cable TV population.

Share of the market

DAS
STBs seeded
Cable 304,000
DTH 141,796
DTH% of cable46.60%
Total STBs445,796

With the carving up of the Indore cable TV over, the task now is to start moving on billing and packaging so that a healthy digital ecosystem is built.

Also read:

An aggressive band of LCOs in Indore