Broadcasters are doling out freebies to distributors, for better business ties. The latest in the scene is Sony Entertainment Television, which is taking cable operators in batches to Colombo during the current ICC Champion’s Trophy.
Earlier, TV channels including Ten Sports, Discovery, ESPN and National Geographic were among the broadcasters which took operators on fancy foreign trips. The freebies could range anything from free air ticket to foreign destinations to free stay in five star hotels to complete holiday packages. In return, broadcasters expect higher subscription numbers, and sometimes they get it too.
Although broadcasters claim that these freebies are aimed at relationship-building , the ultimate objective is to get increased connectivity.
Consider, this, for instance. Abdulrahman Bukhatir-promoted TV channel Ten Sports, which had the exclusive telecast rights to the Fifa World Cup 2002 in India, flew around 50 independent cable operators to UAE for the Sharjah Cup cricket final. This was a way to popularise the channel, just before the Fifa World Cup.
Now that SET Max is on a cricket binge, having paid over $250 million for exclusive satellite TV rights to the ICC Champions Trophy, World Cup 2003 and 2007, it’s offering free trips to cable operators and advertising agencies. It’s a corporate strategy used in other sectors as well. Among others, automobile and cellular phone sectors have dished out goodies to their distributors and agents time and again. By spending a few hundred dollars each on distributors and cable operators, corporates/TV channels usually get a much higher return.
Particularly in the backdrop of the ongoing blacking out of some channels on rival cable networks, such a relationship-building exercise is expected to help both parties. Perhaps, till the conditional access system (CAS) is introduced in the country!