Ronnie Screwvala's U Cypher aims to be premier esports championship in India

Globally, the e-sports gaming market is estimated to be over USD 500-600 million with over 2000 teams consistently participating in tournaments

The world is going digital, and sports is no exception. Moving not too far away from the excitement of live sports, but by involving gaming enthusiasts to compete with each other, electronic sports or e-sports has slowly but surely taken its place as one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

Leveraging on this growth trajectory, Ronnie Screwvala, U Sports founder, will be launching U Cypher on January 19. 

But first, let us understand what exactly is e-sports? e-sports, loosely translated, is casual gaming. It's a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers. esports consist of video games, PC console games and even mobile games. Just like in traditional sports, e-sports fans follow teams, watch matches, and cheer for their favourite stars from around the world.

Globally, the e-sports gaming market is estimated to be over USD 500-600 million with over 2000 teams consistently participating in tournaments. 

U Sports co-founder and CEO, Supratik Sen shared, “There is big platform called Steam globally, It has 160 million subscribers globally out of which 1.5 million are Indian and there are 20 million more downloads for Counter Strike and Dota 2 in India.”

“Gaming is very popular around the world now specifically in countries like China, Korea and Japan. e-sports actually attracts the millennials. It has a much bigger interactive element for gaming. The number one media company in the world is the game company Tencent, which is three times the size of the Walt Disney company,” explained  Ronnie Screwvala.

What is U Cypher?

U Cypher, one of India’s biggest esports phenomenon that launches on January 19 on MTV at 10 pm, provides a platform for talented gamers to achieve their maximum potential and build their career in esports leagues.

U Cypher is a first of its kind multi-game esports championship which has six teams, with 14 members in each team, competing for Season 1's total prize money of Rs. 51 lakhs. The combat zone orbits around four games, namely Counter Strike: GO and Dota 2 on PC, Tekken 7 on PS4 and Real Cricket 2017 on mobile.

Apart from television, the league will be available on digital platforms like, YouTube, Twitch, and Voot. Season 1 comprises 35 episodes. Each episode will have two teams face off on all the four games to gain league points. It is a daily, one hour show with repeats the next day on MTV. “We are looking at a league twice a year and a two-three months tournament each. We want to have a second series in the second half of the year for sure. May be after two seasons we will decide whether we have to go for two seasons or a longer season a year," said Screwvala.

“Our first audition was narrow but now we will go wider. There are three segments of the players that we want to track. First 20 millions we consider to be the hard core game players of the country. Then we have another 20 million that are on the periphery and we are hoping that this league will create interest enough for another 40-50 million people who are fans in the gaming population to build an overall 100 million universe in India of game-playing audience,” said Screwvala.

“For the first season we plan to track 200 tournaments all over India and we picked the best set of players for these specific games and then redraft them into a team but moving forward, they will have to log online, play the championship online and the leaderboard will come through. From the leaderboard the best one will get to the draft process. Second season onwards we will have more teams. We will also enlarge our number of players. This season we have 84 players but going forward we will have 200 and then 300 players and more teams,” shared Sen.

Monetisation for U Cypher

For the first season for the tournament, Screwvala is not looking for any sponsorship. He shared that the revenue streams for them are three fold. Firstly, its sponsorship and advertising, second, it will be the rights (broadcast and digital both) and third is the subscription model.

He said, “We learned our lesson in Kabbadi where we didn’t sell any advertising in the first season and it's a good step for the new sport. The minute you sell it for the first time you get into negotiations but we don’t know what is worth still. Hence we decided to go without sponsorship for the first season only.”

“This will be the first time that a sport in India is looking at a direct subscription model. Other sports are in leagues so here we decided that we will not having a league, it will be more of a tournament. The difference for us is we are not selling teams, we as the the championship owners will own all the teams, we will own the entire league that will allow us to optimize the revenue in  a very different manner and control our own subscription model because the minute I form a league, I will get 10 other owners. For the first season we want people to get familiar with the sport, from second season onwards we want to build our subscription model," added Screwvala.

Aim for U Cypher in India

The Olympic Council of Asia announced earlier this year that esports would debut as an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games in China. esports was first included as part of the Asian Indoor Games in 2007, but the recent surge in esports popularity is causing competitive gaming to get even more recognition.
“In international tournaments, India stands a very good chance. For Dota 2 championship, the prize money is USD 24 million globally and we feel that our Indian team, if trained well, can come in top 30,” said Sen.

“For first season the prize money is Rs 51 lakhs which is not a small amount but not great either but for season 2 we hope to take that number up. If the subscription model goes well we can make this much bigger," said Screwvala.

U sports has invested Rs 25-50 crores for two seasons which includes the cost of entire auditioning, creating the infrastructure, and the marketing spends are estimated to be around Rs 8 crore.

About choosing a youth channel like MTV over sports channel, Screwvala said, “Now we want it to be very disruptive. We didn't think that the audience is ready for a 3-4 hours for the game play in a live telecast. For a sport channel you want to watch the whole sport for the entire duration and it needs to be live. We felt for the first time for this kind of tournament it needs to also be recorded to some extent. We thought four hours will be overdose on a sports channel, that's why a sports channel didn't qualify for us.”

Apart from U Cypher, Nazara Technologies also announced its esports league last year, however operational details about the same are yet to be revealed. These esports events will be joining the likes of other notable esports events in the country like Taiwan Excellence Gaming CUP, ESL India and Dew Arena.

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News Broadcasting Awards: Faye D' Souza, Avinash Pandey and Supriya Prasad win top honours

India Today TV, Mirror Now, NDTV India, ABP News, and Aaj Tak also win big

enba 2018

The 11th edition of the exchange4media News Broadcast Awards was held on February 16, 2019, at the Radisson Blu, in Noida. The awards recognise the best in television news and rewards broadcasters and industry leaders who are responsible for shaping the future of Television Broadcasting in India. It also honours the people who make this industry what it is. 

ABP News Network's Avinash Pandey won the prestigious 'News Television CEO of the Year' award and Faye D'Souza of Mirror Now was awarded the 'News Television Editor-in-Chief of the Year' (English) title, while Supriya Prasad of Aaj Tak won Hindi 'News Television Editor-in-Chief of the Year'. India Today TV bagged the English 'News Channel of the Year' and the Jury's Choice went to Mirror Now in the same category. Aaj Tak won the Hindi 'News Channel of the Year' award, while the Jury's Choice award went to NDTV India and ABP News.

See the full winners' list below:

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DSPORT ropes in ‘MyTeam11’ as broadcast co-presenting partners for Pakistan Super League

The fourth edition of the second most watch T20 league in India will be broadcast LIVE on DSPORT from 14th February – 17th March 2019


DSPORT, a premium sports channel of Discovery Communications, has roped in fantasy sports platform ‘My Team 11’ as the official Broadcast Co presenting Partners for the 4th Pakistan Super League. Apart from ‘My Team 11’, a host of other brands will be seen as broadcast partners for the 4th Pakistan Super League, being telecast LIVE on DSPORT in India.  The fourth edition of the second most watch T20 league in India will be broadcast LIVE on DSPORT from 14th February – 17th March 2019. 

My Team 11 is a homegrown brand and were the Co-Presenting sponsors for the recently concluded Bangladesh Premier League 2019, which was aired LIVE on DSPORT. The Pakistan Super League is a franchise based Twenty20 cricket league, which was established by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) in 2015. 

This year, the tournament will feature some of the greatest T20 stars from International cricket viz; South African AB Devilliers, Wayne Parnell; Caribbean stars Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell; Kiwi cricketers Cory Anderson and Luke Ronchi along with Pakistani Superstars Shahid Afridi, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam and Wahab Riaz. 

RC Venkateish, Managing Director, Lex Sportel Pvt. Ltd., the channel management partners for Discovery Sport, said, “Fantasy Sports is a necessity for any sport and league to grow as it’s a natural extension for the fans to stay engaged to their favourite sport even after the LIVE action is over. My Team 11 with their recent associations has only showcased the growing interest and increasing fan engagement in Fantasy Cricket and hence it was but natural for us to get them on board as the Broadcast Partners for the Pakistan Super League. The league has a huge following in India and the fact that last year it was India’s second most watched T20 league is a testimony to its popularity. I am happy to welcome My Team 11 as our Broadcast Partners and I am confident that the Pakistan Super League will scale newer heights in viewership ratings.” 

The Pakistan Super League has always featured some of the top International as well as local T20 stars representing six franchisee teams from various regions of Pakistan. 
The tournament this year will be played across six cities from UAE and Pakistan. Defending Champions Islamabad United will clash against Lahore Qalandars in the season opener on the 14th February in Dubai. The tournament this season will be played from the 14th February – 17th March 2019 in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Karachi and Lahore.
In context to this association, Sanjit Sihag, COO of MyTeam11 Fantasy Sports, said, “We are aiming at achieving international presence as a leading fantasy sports organization thus, the said collaborations. We believe our partnership with PSL can reap both the series and us, great results in terms of fan engagement.”

Further, Vinit Godara, the CEO of MyTeam11, highlighted how this collaboration will make PSL a popular call among fans. He said, “With MyTeam11 being a popular concept among sports fans, we believe that this broadcasting partnership with DSport for PSL can highly affect the popularity and fan base of the series. The players who will be participating in the tournament have a huge fan base in India and we are confident that the Indian fans will have a lot to look out for the future from the Pakistan Super League.”

My Team 11 is a homegrown Fantasy Sports Platform and has in the past associated with Bangladesh Premier League as “Broadcast Co-Presenting Partners,” with RuPay Pro Volleyball League as “Official Fantasy Partner,” and with DD Sports as the “Associate Partners” for India vs New Zealand T20 series. 

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Prasar Bharati makes around Rs 395 crore from auction of 40 DD FreeDish slots

Bucket C, that has News and Current Affairs channels, has got the highest premium over reserved price

prasar bharati

A total of 40 channels were allocated slots on various Buckets during the first annual e-auction of DD Free Dish held from February 11 to February 14. 
Providing details of the auction, Prasar Bharati in a statement said, “Subject to completion of all formalities, the channels that have successfully bid for slots will come on air on DD FreeDish platform from March 1, 2019. Consequently, the existing channels, which are on DD FreeDish platform on pro-rata basis, will be off-air after February 28, 2019.”
There slots are being offered under five Buckets. These are: 1) Bucket A+: All GEC (Hindi) Channels & Teleshopping, 2) Bucket A: All Movie (Hindi) Channels, 3) Bucket B: All Music(Hindi) Channels, Sports (Hindi) Channels, Movies (Bhojpuri), GEC (Bhojpuri), 4) BUCKET C :All News& Current Affairs (Hindi), All News& Current Affairs (English) Channels and News& Current Affairs (Punjabi) Channels and 5) Bucket D: All other remaining Genre (Language).

A total of 2 slots were sold under A+, 8 under A, 11 under B, 16 under C, and 3 under D. 

For Bucket A+, the average slot price was Rs 15.025 crore and the highest bid price was Rs 15.05 crore. 
For Bucket A, the average slot price was Rs 12.4 crore and the highest bid price was Rs 12.45 crore.
For Bucket B, the average slot price was Rs 10.6 crore and the highest bid price was Rs 10.95 crore.
For Bucket C, the average slot price was Rs 8.15 crore and the highest bid price was Rs 8.95 crore.
For Bucket D, the average slot price was Rs 6.08 crore and the highest bid price was Rs 6.1 crore.  

Talking about the auction, Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharati, said, “The total earnings from the 38th e-Auction of DD FreeDish is to the tune of Rs 395 crore. Though this is the first time we are having an annual auction, if we add up last year’s auctions, it is a 30 pe cent hike in earnings.”

‘Bucket C, which has News and Current Affairs channels-Hindi, English and Punjabi, has got the highest premium over reserved price. Initially, when there were only two divisions, there was a stiff competition between news and non-news channels. This time, it was slightly relaxed in that context. The premium over base price has also gone up against the last season.”

Vempati said a lot of broadcasters have backed out from the platform. “We shall determine the course forward and use it as an opportunity for brand Doordarshan,” he added.

“Also this was just the auction for the MPEG 2 slots. We will soon announce dates of auction for the MPEG 4 slots which will have an invitational price of Rs 5 lakhs. The lower price would help small broadcaster be a part of it and also bring regional diversity in the string of channels,” said Vempati.

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TV9 News Network to launch national Hindi channel TV9 Bharatvarsh

TV9 Bharatvarsh, a free to air news channel will be available across all the platforms and will have a presence on Cable, DTH and Digital platforms worldwide

TV9 Bharatvarsh

TV9 News Network announces the launch of its national Hindi channel, TV9 Bharatvarsh in Delhi next month. TV9 Bharatvarsh will enter the Hindi Satellite market with a well-known team of formidable journalists and dynamic presenters. The Hindi channel is all set to open up its largest news studio in the country, which will use the best of AR and VR technologies, and BOT News Tracker in its presentation.

Already a leader in regional media with six news channels in different parts of the country, this will be TV9 network's grand entry into the national media with its wealth of journalistic experience. TV9 Bharatvarsh will strive to change national television with its unique style of aggressive presentation blended with investigative journalism that will focus on the rights of the people. The Hindi channel will bring back issues that really matter and use the medium of television keeping the core values of humanity and people's interests in the forefront. Unlike other Hindi News channels, TV9 Bharatvarsh will not promote superstitions like Astrology.

People will connect with Bharatvarsh as TV9 network already has a proven track record of being the most powerful regional media house in India. Issues of the citizens of India have always been its primary focus. Associated Broadcasting Company Private Limited (ABCL) was started in 2003 by a group of young journalists lead by Ravi Prakash as CEO.

TV9 Bharatvarsh will be a free to air news channel. It will be available across all the platforms and will have a presence on Cable, DTH and Digital Platforms worldwide.

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Harvest TV renamed Tiranga TV

The owners of Harvest TV News had been pursuing the case with the I&B Ministry for the change of name since September 2017.

by Ruhail Amin
Published - 2 days ago

Veecon Media & Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd, which had filed a petition before Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) for change of name of its television channel from 'Harvest TV' to ‘Tiranga TV' has been granted interim relief. TDSAT has permitted it to use the name ‘Tiranga TV’, according to a statement issued by Veecon Media & Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd.

Such relief from TDSAT could not have come at a more appropriate time.  M/s Harvest Television Network Pvt. Ltd, which claims to own the trademark for ‘Harvest TV’ has filed a suit against Veecon before the district court at Thiruvananthapuram for restraining Veecon from using the name and logo that has any  resemblance with the name ‘Harvest TV’.

Veecon had permission from the I&B Ministry to use ‘Harvest TV’ name and logo and had been pursuing its case with the I&B Ministry for the change of name since September 2017. Finally, it has succeeded is getting a change of name to ‘Tiranga TV’.

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BARC to release viewership data only to its subscribers for now

Decision comes two days after TRAI extended the deadline for consumers to choose pack of channels to March 31


In view of the implementation of the New Tariff order of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) has announced that its viewership data will for now be released only to its subscribers.

“In light of the implementation of TRAI’s new tariff order and on- ground changes, BARC India’s viewership data will be released only to its subscribers until further notice,” read a notice put up on the BARC website.

The move comes days after the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) Executive Council issue an advisory saying that the viewership data from BARC India during the transition period should not be used for media planning, evaluation and buying perspectives.

The new tariff regulation by TRAI has left consumers and advertisers confused. TRAI recently extended the deadline for consumers to choose pack of channels to March 31. Earlier, TRAI had fixed December 29, 2018 as the deadline for the implementation, which was extended to January 31, 2019 to ensure a smooth transition. 

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TV is here to stay, while Digital will grow parallel, opine industry leaders

At the launch of PMAR 2019, a panel discussion was held on the topic- The growing importance of News. The session was moderated by Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO Media & OOH, Madison World


At the unveiling of the Pitch Madison Advertising Report (PMAR) 2019, a panel discussion was held on ‘The growing importance of News’. The session was moderated by Vikram Sakhuja, Group CEO, Media & OOH, Madison World. The eminent leaders on the panel were Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News

Network; Umang Bedi, President, Daily Hunt; Puneet Gupta, COO, Times Internet; and Rahul Kansal, Group Brand Advisor, Network18.

Initiating the discussion, Vikram Sakhuja asked the panellists how they define news? To which Avinash Pandey replied, “In TV and Print, there’s a fundamental difference. In Print, you can choose the page, you want to go, not everything is front page. In TV, everything is a front page story.”

Umang Bedi said, “The definition of news is changing. Every media company in the news space is left or right wing, which is politically aligned. One thing, which is changing in India is that they don’t care about national news, what they want is local news. Local is becoming the way to go in India.”

Puneet Gupta defined news as something meaning different thing to different people. “Newspapers segregate them on pages, digital publishers opts personalized content for their audiences. We have to find the right users for the right set of content piece that gets generated.”

Umang further added, “Digital numbers are growing because time spent on mobile device across news category has grown 7 times. We are seeing now, the time spent on digital, which used to be 13 minutes a day, has gone to 30 minutes per person per day across 200 million active users and more than 70% daily users. Hence, time spent is growing insanely.”

Rahul Kansal, Group Brand Advisor, Network18, said, “The share of news of all television hours of viewing was about 6.5% and now its 8.5%. News as a genre is clearly attracting more eyeballs.”

While discussing about the new TRAI regulations, Anurag Pandey said, “TRAI regulation says that there should be 100 channels in the FTA packs. Consumers are not educated enough to choose, so cable operators will bundle it and give it to somebody. The carriage price of being there may go up.”

Puneet elaborated, “Digital offers a very stable medium that right metric advertisers are looking for, whether you are traditional advertisers with a reach and frequency mindset. Digital solutions are available and it will gain more because of what is happening around in the ecosystem.”

He stated an example saying that elections online has been better than elections on TV for some. Digital is the way to go. Both on Times Now and Mirror Now, majority of the content carried was produced by the digital section, he said.

Umang further said, "TV as a medium is not going away. People in west say it’s dying. I would see a nearer threat for print. We are growing more and more hyper local. Within the app, we just launched TV platforms. Today, it has 40 channels, next week it will go to 300 and then to 543.

It’s going to get local content and we are curating it in a way that the audience will see both side of the spectrum".

Avinash agreed and said, “On digital, video consumption is growing very rapidly. We are also the largest digital player in the country with 25 million unique users, and 370 million page views every month.”

“I think content will need to be diagnostic. We will come across subscribers of newspapers, there will be progressive multi- channel consumption,” Rahul concluded.


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Broadcasters to charge MSOs & cable operators as per new tariff order from Feb itself: IBF

The broadcasting foundation said they will not wait until the new deadline of March 31 as a large number of subscribers have already shifted to the new regime


The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has announced that since a large number of subscribers have already shifted to the new regime, broadcasters will be raising invoices on MSOs and cable operators as per the new tariff order from February itself and not wait till March 31, the new deadline.

The announcement was made two days after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) extended the deadline for consumers to choose channels packs under the new tariff regime to March 31.

“By its latest Press Release No. 11/2019 dated 12th February, 2019, TRAI has acknowledged that 65% of cable services subscribers and 35% of DTH subscribers have already migrated to the new MRP Regime. However, since a switch off will cause inconvenience to subscribers, TRAI has extended time up to 31st March, 2019 to those subscribers who have not yet migrated to exercise their choice. In view of this there may be some confusion amongst DPOs regarding the implementation of the New MRP Regime. Some of our member broadcasters have been receiving calls from some DPOs seeking clarification regarding submission of monthly subscriber reports (MSRs) and billing for the month of February 2019,” IBF said in a statement.

“IBF would like to clarify that its member broadcasters have executed the Reference Interconnect Agreements (RIOs) under the New MRP Regime with the DPOs and have implemented the New MRP Regime effective 1st February, 2019 as mandated by TRAI. Thus all DPOs are statutorily bound to adhere to the provisions of the New MRP Regime. Accordingly, DPOs are hereby requested to provide their MSRs as mandated under the New MRP Regime in respect of each of their subscribers on the duly notified dates viz., 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of every month. Kindly note that from the month of February 2019 onwards our member broadcasters will be raising invoices on DPOs in accordance with the provisions stipulated by TRAI under the New MRP Regime,” the statement added.

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Measurement and feedback important for great storytelling: Gaurav Banerjee

Banerjee, President, Hindi Entertainment, Star India, was speaking at the unveiling of the Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2019 in Mumbai


At the unveiling of the Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2019 in Mumbai, Gaurav Banerjee, President, Hindi Entertainment, Star India, spoke on the topic- ‘Need to Measure Content in Digital’. 

Speaking about the importance of measuring content and how it gives content creators the much needed insight to make course corrections, Banerjee said, “The fact that you can measure content and get immediate feedback allows your idea to become better. I’m a guy who gets a report every Thursday and we think about what we did wrong and what could be made better.”

“A lot of writers who have the opportunity to work with us have taken those insights, gone to work on them and have become better storytellers. This is why measurement and feedback is really important. It helps us make good stories better. It tells us exactly what consumers want and therefore what should change. So I totally believe in the power of TRPs, it allows us to stay committed to serve our audiences in a better way. It allows good stories to stay and the bad ones, which we cannot fix, to go away,” he added.

Banerjee also highlighted the scale of work that Star India is doing and how its viewership is almost a continent in itself.

“When we get the story right on any Hindi entertainment channel today, the number of people watching it is equal to a small continent. One of the good shows that we have right now is a show called ‘Kullfi Kumarr Bajewala’ running in four different languages and the total viewership of this show alone is over 25 crore. So that is the scale of content that we do.”
He added, “Last year, more people watched IPL than the number of voters in the 2014 general elections. So everything which happens in content is about building engagement. The great part about good storytelling is that we can spark real deep conversations. We can do it better when we get feedback from our viewers.” 

Banerjee also underlined the importance of context in the mix of great storytelling. He stated that the divide between TV and digital is artificial and had no bearing on great storytelling.
“To me, as a storyteller, context is supremely important. Also, the divide between TV and digital to my mind totally artificial. We are in the business of serving consumers who in turn are deeply interested in stories. So, they will go to whichever way it is convenient for them to watch.”

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Major broadcasters pull out Hindi mass entertainment channels from Free Dish

Consumers may not get to watch general entertainment channels like Star Utsav & Zee Anmol

prasar bharati

A few top broadcasters have decided to pull out their Hindi mass entertainment channels from the free-to-air platform of Prasar Bharati, as per media reports. The list includes Star India, Sony Pictures Networks India, Zee and IndiaCast Media Distribution, which distributes TV18 and Viacom18 channels.

As a result of this consumers will not be able to watch some of the general entertainment channels, including Star Utsav, Zee Anmol and others.

According to an EY Report — India’s Free TV-DD Free Dish—the state-run DTH provider has over 20 million subscribers. This is considerably more than national pay TV companies, with the average for both being around 8 million and 16million.  Experts said this move by the broadcasters will bring down the wide viewership that DD Free Dish enjoys.

“Consumers will now have to buy the channels they want to watch from the cable operators as per ala carte options. This way, the whole objective of DD Free Dish which is to provide Free Entertainment to people across the country will not be served,” said distribution expert KK Sharma.

According to Raman Kalra, Partner, Entertainment, Media and Sports Sector, PwC India, “These are early days of the New Tariff Order and can potentially change a lot of things in the end-to-end distribution value chain. Subscription monetization and value creation between different players, be it broadcasters, MSOs, DPOs, last-mile operators or the public broadcaster will eventually be shaped up by market economics. Broadcasters have a total right to look at their business growth in free competitive market and decide on what business revenue models make sense. The next few quarters will be a defining era of many experiments.”

Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Sekhar Vempati was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

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