IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd. (A subsidiary of Hinduja Ventures Limited) is one of India’s largest integrated media companies (‘IMCL’). IMCL is the pioneering and one of the largest multi-system operators in the country. IMCL has a backbone of over 10000 kms of hybrid fibre optic networks. It has over 2800 Local Cable Operators as Franchisees and around 2000 staff.
Medianews4u spoke to Vynsley Fernandes, CEO, IMCL spoke to us about the impact of the lockdown, the effect it has had on the entertainment industry and as the largest cable operators how they have innovated and adapted to the changing situations and the new normal.
The impact of Covid-19 on your brand & the Organization? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust upon the industry, a completely unprecedented situation which has impacted all spheres of life. Our business is no exception. However, innovative approaches and proactive planning has helped us to ensure business continuity even amidst the current situation.
We monitored the situation constantly, even prior to lockdown and introduced specially curated packs like our Vishesh Manoranjan Pack, Super Entertainment Dhamaka Pack and the basic-level Infopack to ensure that our subscribers had enough and more options, both price-wise and content-wise; to stay connected and safe at home. These proactive initiatives, along with our Digital Payment platform & 24X7 services on ground have helped us significantly to cope with the prevailing situation.
During this lockdown period, we have been constantly engaging with our LCO partners and reviewing all facets of our operations every day – not just for course-correction, but to continuously enhance our offerings and service.
What innovations or changes will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to your industry?
This pandemic and subsequent lockdown period has really changed the outlook in every segment of life globally. Concepts like work from home, harnessing digital technology to take care of work remotely is the “new normal” now. These emerging norms are already creating new opportunities.
This is the right time to build relevant layers in business for a diversified offering. We have a cable TV layer and we build broadband and offer OTT with it; not our own OTT but partnering with someone to offer it as a hybrid product. We also developed digital payment modules to ensure contactless subscription collection – not only at the Local Cable Operator-level but also to the subscriber. The endeavour is to build a stack of useful products to deal with current and unravelling situation. It is going to be tough and challenging in the coming days. But as they say, this could be the storm before the calm.
For an MSO has the lockdown be a boon with so many more people watching TV?
The lockdown period has seen a new concept of work from home which has resulted in subscribers spending more time indoor.
Our Cable TV service coupled with our Broadband and Value-Added Services facilitated a self-contained “Work from Home” solution for our customers. Whilst we did see addition of subscribers during the early days, we also experienced temporary disconnections – mainly from hotels that needed to hunker down during the lockdown period.
What has been your communication strategy during this lockdown to your subscribers?
As an organization, we have identified two critical focus area – firstly and most importantly, the well-being of all our stakeholders including employees, LCOs, subscribers and secondly, to ensure uninterrupted connectivity of our subscribers to keep them safe at their home with enough options, both content-wise as well as price-wise. Most of our communications have been revolving around these two pivots.
Hence, we had circulated leaflets, poster, e-guidebook amongst our LCO partners whom we consider as a part of our Parivaar, which clearly explained the precautionary measures about COVID-19 in 12 different vernacular languages so as to create awareness about this pandemic right at the initial phase. In fact, we keep on reinforcing the same using digital media like WhatsApp, e-mail etc.
Similarly, we have been constantly engaging with LCOs and subscribers to update them about our offerings / packs like our Vishesh Manoranjan Pack, which was offered with a credit period, to help subscribers that couldn’t renew their subscriptions, for several reasons.
Another important aspect of communication has been to reinforce our digital mode of payment which ensures contactless payment collection, thereby making it safe for our LCOs as well as subscribers.
Your endeavour in building the morale of the employees?
We have a robust mechanism of constantly engaging with employees during this lockdown period through Video Call, E-mail, Whatsapp media. The endeavour is to create an interactive platform wherein team can share their viewpoints, put forward their queries and we can share business updates, applaud & recognize the excellent work that is happening all across.
A core team was formed to review safety of our employees and their families and extend support to them during these difficult times. I am happy to share that this model has worked well for us in keeping the employee morale high.
On the personal front, I am acutely aware, especially in such challenging times, that the leadership team needs to step up and show the way to the rest of our Parivaar. Whether it was and is to keep our colleagues safe, keep the wheels of the business turning and keep morale up! This was the driving force for me and my colleagues – to remain positive, irrespective of the adversity of the situation.
The lockdown has also seen a huge spike in OTT viewing has it affected your subscriptions, i.e have people moved away from TV to OTT platforms?
While there has expectedly been increased traction, especially amongst urban subscribers, towards OTT, a recent report published by Times Internet clearly shows that over 60% Indian users are not keen to spend money on OTT subscriptions. Hence there is enough and more opportunity in the CATV and HITS segment, where we have a significant presence in semi-urban and rural India; provided we are able to present relevant content in terms of movies, serial, shows, music etc to our subscribers with commensurate service level. Our VAS offerings, which extends up to 31 channels of different genres in INDIGITAL and up to 25 channels in NXT DIGITAL (HITS) addresses our subscribers’ requirements, helping us to keep them engaged and satisfied.
Moreover, we are also in the process of exploring partnership with relevant OTT players to extend a holistic experience to our subscribers.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies?
This COVID-19 pandemic has changed the consumer outlook significantly. A “New Normal” has emerged post this pandemic and we all must embrace this new normal to steer our way forward while being safe and healthy.
I think concepts like harnessing digital technology to take care of work remotely, maintaining social distancing while being at work etc would be integral part of this new normal going forward.
Moreover, consumers would increasingly expect holistic experience in “always connected” mode and to keep up with this new consumer expectation, business have to be truly an integrated digital solution provider to deliver an unmatched, seamless experience across Cable TV, Broadband, OTT and Home Surveillance and many more and that would be our key strategy going forward.
Have you reworked any of your subscription packages as people are seeing a disruption in their income?
In line with our business philosophy of being “Customer Centric”, we have drawn insights from the on-going situation in the market-place and introduced specially curated packs like our Vishesh Manoranjan Pack, Super Entertainment Dhamaka Pack and the basic-level Infopack to ensure that our subscribers have enough and more options, both price-wise and content-wise; to stay connected and safe at home. In fact, our Vishesh Manoranjan Pack was offered with a credit period, to help subscribers who could not renew their subscriptions, for several reasons.
Our business, both cable TV and HITS is driven largely by subscription. Our advertising revenues are nominal, by virtue of the nature of the business – and have not seen any significant change either way.