The unique Managed Services model of NXTDIGITAL on its HITS or Headend-In-The-Sky platform received a boost from the Government. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting notified and defined the sharing of HITS infrastructure with other Multi-System Operators (MSOs) across the country. The potential for infrastructure sharing or managed services stands at over 69 million cable TV households today – comprising smaller independent and regional MSOs. It may be noted that NXTDIGITAL is the only HITS platform in the country today.
Vynsley Fernandes, Media Group Chief Executive Officer – NXTDIGITAL Limited, speaks on the announcement, the initiatives taken by NXT Digital for their consumers, the App ‘msaathi’ and leveraging Satellite Technology and much more.
The order comes as a huge relief for the HITS Platform…. your thoughts?
The need of the hour for Multi-System Operators, especially the regional and independent players is not just to sustain their business, but also grow. And today, besides increasing cost of operations, especially connectivity; and technology obsolescence, MSOs are facing significant challenges, some of them existential. The order from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), notifying sharing of infrastructure by HITS operators with Multi System Operators (MSOs), addresses that very issue. It allows such MSOs to sustain and grow their business and stave off technology obsolescence by sharing the HITS infrastructure to deliver their services – cost-effectively. MSOs continue to remain independent and use their existing backend whether it be their CAS, SMS or STBs; whilst using our HITS infrastructure to deliver their services. The potential for infrastructure sharing or managed services stands at over 69 million cable TV household’s today– comprising mainly independent and regional MSOs.
NXTDIGITAL has performed extremely well, in this crisis. What do you attribute this to?
As an organization, we strongly believe that innovation is the only mantra that can keep us ahead of the curve. We gauged the situation before lockdown was announced and introduced specially curated packs whilst taking the initiative to build a stack of useful products like layering Cable TV with Broadband and Value-Added Services – which facilitated a self-contained “Work from Home” solution for our customers. Throughout this period, we have continued on our three-pronged strategy of enhancing customer outreach, launching innovative solutions, and product strengthening cross-selling.
Sharing your platform with competition is it not a risk as consumers may shift?
Earlier, competitors were scared to collaborate because there was a lack of transparency, specifically in content pricing. But thanks to NTO 1.0, there is complete transparency in pricing and parity across all platforms. So, competitors are happy to ride on our platform to continue providing services to their customers. Moreover, with our shared service, the MSO continues to own the network and the subscribers. We only provide the delivery of the encrypted signal. They can also continue to develop their own packages and maintain their own billing system, subscriber management system, CAS and STBs. Hence using our technology infrastructure backbone, MSOs can continue to manage their business and grow without any worry.
You have talked about cross selling services to your consumers in the key markets, can you elaborate on this?
Driving cross-selling of digital video, broadband and Value-Added Services to customers in key markets has been a key focus area for us over the last few quarters. The business continued to focus on the value model – offering innovative “bundled” products and packages in diverse geographies. This endeavour has resulted in not only growth in EBITDA both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter but also seen growth in margins. We plan to further this endeavour going forward.
In this lockdown you have offered very innovative packages across the spectrum for your consumers, how did you strategize on this aspect?
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 and introduced specially curated packs like our VisheshManoranjan Pack, Super Entertainment Dhamaka Pack and the basic-level Info pack to ensure that our subscribers had enough and more options, both pricewise 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.
Tell us about the App ‘mSaathi’?
In line with one of the guiding principles of our Hinduja Group – “Partnership for Growth”, it has always been our endeavor to work towards growth of our LCO partners. “mSaathi” is an innovative step towards this direction. This app developed by our partners has been tested and is ready to be rolled out. The app, which is owned by a cable operator, helps him connect local merchants to his subscriber base. This is e-commerce at a hyperlocal level.
How are you leveraging your Satellite Technology?
Another big area of opportunity is leveraging technology in satellite media. We strongly believe that India is ripe for satellite broadband due to latent demand for broadband service outside cities.
We will look to leverage our satellite expertise and our capabilities for future growth drivers including satellite broadband, content delivery network over satellite and eventually low-cost OTT over satellite.
Digital is a major issue in Tier 3 & 4 geographies. How do you look to tackle this?
Most Tier 3 & 4 geographies have already gone “digital” in terms of video delivery. With our HITS platform, we have been able to bring digitalization to challenging markets like the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the Lakshadweep Islands, the far northeastern reaches of India, Ladakh and even Kargil. This is digital video though. We do have a roadmap to rollout broadband to Tier 3 & 4 markets, where incidentally we already have a presence, albeit small. The Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir is one such example where we are proud to have been able to launch our broadband services in areas where connectivity is a challenge. And this is only the sign of things to come.