Analysis : By Yohan P Chawla.
These really are the best times for consumers, particularly in the Media & Entertainment spacewhich is spoiling them for choice. There is already deed an abundance of choices in the largest space of receiving and viewing video entertainment, infotainment, news and lifestyle content across genres and languages on all your fixed and mobile appliances and devices respectively. And now, India’s first, perhaps most focused and entrepreneurial company originally launched to focus on the Cable & Satellite TV space, IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd. (“IMCL”), has suddenly unleashed a massive array of products and services to enable integrated content and broadband delivery and consumption, with the launch of its “I Am Mumbai, I Am InDigital” platform that truly signals the next era in digital broadcasting & communications.
It is a great strategic and tactical move, because of several reasons. One: this begins from India’s largest metro that’s also the capital city of our M&E business, from InDigital, with sister entity NXT Digital to cover the other flank of the remotest parts of the country. Two: it comes from a company with a conglomerate parent that’s remained focused on and dedicated to the space and is enabled with pockets deep enough to match that relentless drive. And three: there now is a a CEO who is among the world’s best technocrats with a proven track record in setting up some of India’s top M&E brands.
So IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd. (“IMCL”)and its CEO VynsleyFernandes, are a formidable combination. Fernandes was named IMCL CEO on 01 August 2018, and in less than a couple of months has had IMCL roll out all these products and services, branded under its “I Am Mumbai, I Am InDigital” platform:
IMCL’s InDigital Mumbai is now offering 700+ SD & HD television channels and 40 radio stations. This upgrade has been facilitated through deployment of innovative and cutting-edge technology, which IMCL is well known for, not only at InDigital – its digital cable network, but also for NXT Digital – its Headend-In-The-Sky platform. The expanded bouquet of television channels is now enabled to cater to every viewer in Mumbai in terms of genre, language or age group.
This expansive offering is enhanced through providing viewers a premium 22-channel bouquet of ad-free content – in partnership with One Take Media and Shemaroo Entertainment. The premium content under the “NXT Services” brand is available not only to InDigital customers, but also NXT Digital customers across India. From Rhymes, Cartoons & Movies for Kids; to dubbed movies in regional languages, cooking and music – the bouquet has it all.
InDigital also presented the latest series of next-generation STBs to suit every consumer requirement at every price-point – from basic SD & HD zappers and entry-level HD Hybrid to Advanced Hybrid and 4K Android and OTT devices. The unique Basic HD Hybrid is a cost-effective entry-level hybrid STB for customers who want to experience the power of internet content and digital cable – at an affordable price-point.
They have announced a plan to launch mobile “on-the-go” service, exclusively for existing InDigital customers. The 22 premium ad-free channels launched under the “NXT Services” brand in partnership with One Take Media &Shemaroo Entertainment, and premium channel bouquet covers all genres, multiple languages; and caters to the entire family.
There are dedicated channels for Mumbai city events “live” – sports, art, culture and religious ceremonies, with services to be available in SD & HD.
Along with ONE Fiber, a Group company, InDigital offers up to 1Gbps fibre-to-the-home connectivity. ONE Fiber has also launched its OTT device and service – to complement InDigital’s enhanced channel offerings with a high-end service.
These digital initiatives makes InDigital Mumbai the biggest digital distribution platform by offerings. And InDigital will expand the television & broadband combo-offerings to other cities in the next 4 weeks.
“There is a wide variety of content available on InDigital, and a lot of means through which it can be consumed,” Fernandes said at the launch. “Be it our traditional, appointment-based television or the new “me time” with Netflix and Hotstar among others. Important thing to see is that businesses are gearing up to adapt new technology and are evolving with times. And so is Hinduja Group’s InDigital and NXT Digital, which is the only integrated digital distribution platform in India with services such as satellite, cable and broadband connectivity straight to our homes.”
Incidentally, IMCL also has a phenomenal Swiss Army Knife for even the smallest Local Cable Operator looking to protect his or her business against the DTH invasion from the skies as digital has been mandated across even Tier 3 and 4 markets and beyond to the remotest areas of India, and that is its HITS platform, NXT Digital, which enables LCOs to provide digital cable services at a fraction of the erstwhile cost of setting up before NXT Digital arrived.
And incidentally, it was Vynse, as Fernandes is fondly called by everyone in the Media & Entertainment industry worldwide, who, in tandem with former head of the Hinduja Media Business, industry ace Tony D’Silva, directly overlooked the sourcing, establishing and rollout of the state-of-the-art NXT Digital earth station, reportedly costing in excess of $60mn, in Noida.
Fernandes said “The direct completion to any DTH service is our HITS platform. One big thing about this platform is that it’s on C-band versus DTH which is on KU band, which is susceptible to any change in weather. C-Band is robust and is not affected by any change in weather such as heavy rains, or snow fall etc. So our entire business is on C-Band and hence the beauty is that our up time when compared to DTH is much higher.”
STBs: With the additions to their current series, InDigital has now upped the ante by adding 3 new set top boxes for the Indian consumer, making it a total of 6 Set top boxes to choose from as per the consumers’ requirement starting from a basic standard definition variant to a hi-end 4K Android Hybrid STB which would facilitate all major OTT platforms and basically convert a regular television to a smart television.
Fernandes said, “We have created a range of products right from a Standard Definition Zapper to a High Definition Zapper basic box going up to a HD Dual Tuner where you can watch one channel and record another one. Then upgrading to an HD advanced hybrid box and finally a 4K Android box with access to OTT Platforms. The beauty of this offering is that we are going to the consumer and saying, here are 700+ Television Channels in SD and HD, 40 radio channels, 22 Premium services and a whole new range of STB devices to choose from and all of this is powered by 1GBPS fibre internet connectivity.”
SUBSCRIBERS: On the subscriber base, Fernandes said, “We are just shy of the 5 million mark, right now, in terms of households and I urge you to remember one thing, when I say I am shy of the 5 million mark, we are just shy of the 5 million mark, and that is because it’s not an estimation, it’s a proper number, because IMCL is the only company which is 100% prepaid — so these numbers are not estimates but accurate numbers.” “Along with NXT Digital and ONE Fiber – IMCL is the only integrated digital distribution platform in the country, connecting customers through digital cable, satellite and broadband. Coupled with next-generation devices and expansive content, we believe that our customers will get access to a world class digital entertainment experience. We also strongly believe that the success and growth of our platforms can only be possible through a strong ecosystem, of which our Business Partners and Last Mile Owners continue to remain an integral part.”
DATA THE NEW OIL FOR BUSINESS: As part of the future of an integrated digital experience, ONE Fiber, a Hinduja Group company also showcased its OTT box – to complement the digital cable offerings.ONEOTT iNTERTAINMENT LTD (OIL) is the Hinduja Group’s foray into Telecom and Internet Services. OIL’s vision is to transform the lives of customers by enabling them with an always-on-high-speed-internet-access for their ON-DEMAND-Entertainment – iNTERTAINMENT.
Yugal K Sharma, CEO of OIL, “OIL delivers High-Speed-Internet to its consumers over a robust-high-performance “ONE FIBER” grid – with speeds up to 1Gbps. The ONE service has already rolled out in key cities including Mumbai and a new city is being added virtually every other day. OIL has also entered into strategic tie-ups with OTT content platforms – and coupled with the InDigital services; the joint offerings will be formidable.”
“ONEOTT iNTERTAINMENT LTD acronyms to OIL,” Sharma said, adding, “and we all know that data is the new OIL for businesses. In the coming times we will have everything in one wire, one box, one family, one TV, one home and Oneintertainment. And that is our brand ethos.”
IMCL Business Head NK Rouse said, “In the fast-changing digital distribution environment – especially in a key metropolitan city like Mumbai, our partners and our LMOs need to not just keep pace with change, but embrace the digital opportunities, whilst continuing to own their network. The “I Am Mumbai, I Am InDigital” initiative helps them offer a consolidated cable plus broadband plus bouquet package to their customers – all at a competitive price.”
Fernandes said, “The expansion was facilitated by innovative technology, and the bouquet expansion has been designed on the premise that InDigital, with its legacy of being founded in Mumbai over two decades ago, knows the pulse of Mumbai viewer’s best. And it is a matter of immense satisfaction that along with NXT Digitaland ONE Fiber – IMCL remains the only integrated digital distribution platform in the country, connecting customers through digital cable, satellite and broadband.
So, to follow up on these massive announcements, InDigital has special offers in place its customers to upgrade to next-generation STBs and services, including high-speed internet. Finally, there is an entity with truly deep pockets and equal commitment and headed by a feisty and experienced broadcast tech visionary in the integrated content distribution business that can look the recently-arrived big brother in the eye. And will, perhaps spur it, through these announcements, to launch its hastily announced and yet-to-roll out Giga Broadband service.
Consumers have already begun to be spoilt for choice.