TS Panesar, Chief Executive Officer, Hathway (Video Business)

In India, we are at a stage where broadcasting and distribution industry is on the verge of huge transformation, mainly because of government's push for digitization along with new regulation, leap of change in technology, and dramatic change in consumer content consumption behavior. Audiences are captivated with innovation and engagement and are looking for variety of entertainment, through different mediums and with more personal preferences. The pay-TV industry will continue to grow with rapid transformations in the industry and is slated to reach 174 + millionby 2020 from current level of 150+ million, which can provide ample space for all stake holders to invest and grow.

Being a leading MSO in India, we have undertaken many path-breaking initiatives in the last one year to catch up the pace of technological changes and build up the confidence of our channel partners, i.e., LCOs, and fulfill customers' varied aspirations. We have implemented a digital portal for our LCOs, directly connected to our server, which is helping them to manage their business more effectively and transparently. Matching to the trend of increasing HD channels, we have also enhanced our HD channel offerings to over 50, providing the best viewing experience to our customers. In metros and mini metros, we are seeding more HD STBs, thus becoming future ready for customers' expectations. Due to our distinct advantage over DTH in terms of unlimited bandwidth, we are able to offer better quality of over 400 SD channels. Adding to this variety in entertainment, being a pioneer in the MSO industry, we have launched a new segment of value-added services under the brand "Hathway Special". We have also integrated cashless transaction platforms to our LCOs and direct customers to support the central government's initiative.

We have also started building our infrastructure and processes to handle TRAI's new tariff order simultaneously. We believe that TRAI's new tariff order will be a game changer for broadcast and distribution industry, and will surely bring in more transparency across the broadcast distribution system. New tariff structure empowers consumers and gives them the power to choose their channels/services, and it simultaneously ensures that content is being distributed with fair trade margins, thus balancing the entire ecosystem. It creates a level playing field for all, thereby fostering a more competitive environment and an opportunity to innovate. Additionally, this order is sure to create a more symbiotic ecosystem unlike the current price-unregulated one.

While our immediate efforts will be toward strengthening the initiatives of the past one year along with further automations to improve the efficiency of operations and reduce the operational cost, we are also keeping our eye on shift in consumer content consumption behavior, which will drive all our future initiatives.

We are of the opinion that future consumers will look forward to anytime, anywhere, any device viewing experience from the current fixed environment. There will be shift to personalized genre-based content from the current bouquet of channels, largely driven by expanding broadband network, improving speed of the Internet, and reducing cost of data. This may lead to content consumption of both linear and non-linear content through same platform and device. This trend would be more prominent amongst the millennials, who are going to be an important part of our target customers.

Given this scenario, all MSOs will have added advantage with their existing cable network, which can be upgraded quickly to match changing customer needs of linear and non-linear content through broadcast or Internet respectively. Hybrid STB, which can receive both linear and non-linear signals, will become need of the hour, as a hardware upgrade and intuitive user interface (UI) as a software upgrade will be required for seamless customer experience and data analytics.

The future of entertainment would be the convergence of linear and non-linear content, OTT, catch-up TV, gaming, VAS, pay-per-view, VOD, Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), etc. At Hathway it has always been our endeavor to provide our customers with the best the industry has to offer and to be the first in doing so.