OTT platforms have not been able to hamper our growth: GTPL Hathway's Piyush Pankaj

The GTPL Hathway Chief Strategy Officer and Business Head (Cable TV) on the service provider coming up with a hybrid STB that will offer linear as well as OTT content

e4m by Javed Farooqui
Updated: Nov 11, 2020 8:52 AM

The Indian market has seen a surge in demand for Over The Top (OTT) content in the last few years. A number of industry experts have also expressed concerns that the growth of OTT will eat into the top-end of the pay TV customer base.

However, Piyush Pankaj, GTPL Hathway Chief Strategy Officer and Business Head (Cable TV), asserts that the company has not seen any impact on its growth due to OTT platforms. And now, in order to retain its customer loyalty and prevent them from migrating to OTT, GTPL Hathway is coming out with a hybrid STB that will offer linear as well as OTT content.

Leading DTH players like Dish TV, Tata Sky and Airtel Digital TV have already launched hybrid STBs. Multi-system operators (MSOs) like Hathway Digital, DEN Networks, and Siti Networks have also launched or are planning to launch hybrid STBs to offer TV and OTT content through a single device.

"We are also coming up with a hybrid box with all OTTs included. I am not saying linear TV will be replaced by OTT, but it will complement each other," Pankaj told analysts during the Q2 FY21 earnings conference call in October.

“We are not seeing growth being hampered because of OTT. Both will co-exist, that is the way we are looking forward. OTT is going to be phenomenal in phase 1 and phase 2, but in phase 3 and phase 4 linear TV will prevail. In phase 1 and phase 2 markets both OTT and CATV are going to be there in the houses," he further said.

Pankaj also disclosed that the hybrid box is under production and the testing has been completed. The company plans to launch the hybrid STB in Q3 FY21. The earlier plan was to launch it in April 2020 but Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown delayed the launch.

The hybrid STB will have a phased launch. "First, we are going to launch it in Phase-I and Phase-II markets, some selected Phase-III and Phase-IV markets and subsequently we will enter other markets," Pankaj noted.

He also said that the pricing strategy and other things are under consideration right now. “The hybrid box will be launched at a competitive price whereby we can attract a good demand from the consumers.”

With the demand for broadband service seeing a phenomenal growth, the company is planning to up its investments in the category. Pankaj told analysts that the company's Capex in FY21 will be Rs 250-260 crore. The company had earlier provided guidance of Rs 210-220 crore.

In H2 FY21, GTPL Hathway will invest Rs 120-130 crore with broadband taking up a big chunk of it. In H1 FY21, the total Capex was Rs 130 crore with Rs 50 crore being spent on STBs. The broadband investment in the first half stood at Rs 58 crore.

"Last time, we have said that the Capex for FY21 will be in the range of Rs 210 crore to Rs 220 crore. Till date, we have incurred a capex of Rs 130 crore during H1 FY21. The STB Capex is around Rs 50 crore. Broadband Capex is around Rs 58 crore. We have invested in IT and infra, which is around Rs 16 crore and other Capex is around Rs 6 crore," he stated.

"As the demand is more from the broadband side, we are going to increase our Capex. We are going to spend around Rs 120 crore to Rs 130 crore in H2 FY21. So our Capex for FY21 will be in the range of Rs 250 crore to Rs 260 crore up from Rs 210 crore to Rs 220 crore earlier."

On the cable TV side, the company expanded its operations by entering Tamil Nadu and Tripura. It is also planning to strengthen its presence in the existing markets. "We are slow on entering into new states because of COVID-19, but as the things are becoming normal, we will see that we are entering into other new states. After these two states we have entered, we have to widen our presence. Already in Tamil Nadu, we have started being very aggressive but we have to again step back because of the Covid," Pankaj added.

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