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In conversation with Reliance Digital TV’s Umesh Rao

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In conversation with Reliance Digital TV’s Umesh Rao

Umesh Rao, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, Reliance Digital TV, has two decades of rich experience in the foods, FMCG, luxury retail, advertising and new age entertainment categories. He has worked with leading Indian and MNCs like Dabur India Ltd, Duncan Industries Ltd, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd and Rivoli Group, Dubai. He has had global stints in North Americas and Dubai.

Reliance Digital TV was launched in 2008. How has the journey been so far?

Reliance Digital TV entered the DTH market as a challenger brand in August 2008when there were already three established players. Our core focus was to build significant presence in the entire entertainment and communication ecosystem, across content, services and distribution platforms.

In our journey so far, we have had several milestones to our credit, for instance, being the fastest ever subscriber ramp up in the DTH category, first in the industry to offer customer segmented and laddered subscription packages, one of India’s largest bouquets of over 260 channels and highest number of regional channels. We have been rated as India’s Best Digital TV service on video and audio quality by Milward Brown through an independent pan-India survey, we are amongst the Top 3 customer service brands in the Indian DTH industry as per Hindustan Times MaRS Survey, India’s best after-sales installation service with over 85 per cent installations done in less than 24 hours of booking, India’s first High Definition-cum-advanced digital video recorder offering 200 hours of recording, trick play and universal remote functions.

With almost a dozen players in the market, how do you maintain a place for yourself?

At Reliance Digital TV, we focus on some strategic levers to create offering differentiation. We always believe in increased product relevance and differentiation, content enhancement both at mainstream and regional levels, pan-India distribution, installation and after sales service. Since there are chances of being lost in the clutter, we also believe in brand differentiation through sustained advertising and promotional programmes and enhanced service stickiness through interactive and VAS products.

What are the recent promotional activities that you have indulged in and what is your marketing strategy henceforth?

We firmly believe that promotions play a pivotal role in our marketing mix as they help us create alternative touch points and experientially market Reliance Digital TV. At Reliance Digital TV, we believe that it is very important to educate the customer, create relevant disruption and position ourselves as a superior digital TV viewing offering. We do this through various programmes such as ATL advertising and rigorous BTL push through in-shop demonstrations and innovative retail display programmes.

We also explore partnerships to widen the appeal and usage through cross category product bundling alliances across TV, durables manufacturers and other service providers such as banks, retail chains, airlines, travel portals, etc. In recent times, we launched a HD set-top box on January 11 and tied up with ESPN-STAR Sports to bring ICC World Cup in High Definition format. We have introduced a unique service initiative to address customer queries and resolve their service problems at the earliest through our Day & Night service. In order to widen the usage and visibility of our brand, we have signed a corporate alliance with MIRC Electronics Ltd, owners of Onida TV range, and have introduced Flexi Sports pack, giving our subscribers the ultimate freedom to select any two channels from seven sports channels.

What, according to you, makes Reliance Digital TV different from its competitors?

Firstly, we offer over 260 TV, cinema and audio channels, the highest by any DTH operator in the country. Considering the huge demand for movies, Reliance Digital TV offers 19 exclusive cinema channels on its platform. Other than this, we offer the widest and the most complete range of products in the DTH sector, right from Standard Definition Box to High Definition cum Advanced Digital Video Recorder (HD-DVR) to High Definition Set Top Boxes (HD-STB).

Reliance Digital TV comes with a successful telecom heritage. The telecom expertise has been efficiently utilised in customer segmentation and marketing programmes, customer care, advanced IT and billing capabilities in pre- and post-paid platforms and exploiting pan-India sales and distribution networks.

We also offer a plethora of value added services to subscribers. In addition to this, through our choice pay channel service, we offer latest blockbuster movies. We were also are the first to offer niche content such as plays and concerts on our platform.

Which creative and media agencies are you working with as of now?

Our creative agency is Leo Burnett, while OMD is the media agency.

What are the advantages and challenges of this medium in the current scenario?

As far as advantages and opportunities are concerned, in a TV household base of 130 million, DTH has a penetration of little over 20 per cent. Given the large Indian population, television penetration potential and relevance of television- based entertainment for Indian households, we see a huge potential for growth. Also, with TRAI’s recommendations on clear cut phase wise implementation of digitisation and addressability will give immense boost to digitisation and thereby, accelerate growth of digital platforms, including DTH.

The challenges are high incidence of taxes in the DTH industry, which unduly extend the payback period for the industry. Also, unlike other countries, content exclusivity and niche content is not allowed in India, leaving very few avenues for differentiation and sustained profitable growth.

The Indian DTH industry is still at a very nascent stage, but is undoubtedly growing at an unprecedented pace as compared to other DTH markets across the globe. While the industry is acquiring subscribers through aggressive offers, the larger challenge will be to increase stickiness and keep moving the customer up the value chain.

How important are events for you? What all have you done in this field?

Events assume a critical role in showcasing and profiling our brand. We use the medium of events judiciously to showcase new offerings and to reach out to prospective audiences for our brand.

What targets have you set for 2011?

Reliance Digital TV will continue to blend the best in technology, content, distribution, and service delivery standards to offer world class digital TV viewing experience to consumers. In 2011, we will singularly focus on cutting edge innovations across all our offerings to remain ahead on the delivery curve.

How has digital delivered in terms of creating visibility for the brand?

Digital is an evolving, new age medium for us and is being used to reach out to the younger and more tech savvy consumers. We are also using this as a tool to generate viral and seek audience feedback on our new offerings. This medium gives us the necessary ‘surround’ and compliments the traditional modes of A&P being deployed by us.

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