AgOpinion | Star RIO - a milestone reform for DAS; responsibility for MSOs

In the light of the ongoing transformations in the Indian television space with regards to broadcasters, MSO and the payment structure possibilities, we at Adgully think through the matter and gauge as to where is the Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) issue leading to.

So, what were the core ideas behind digitization? The ability to address each set-top box, the ability to control what content is shown, the tracking and visibility of set-top boxes to all stakeholders, the ability of the consumer to choose what they want to watch, and pay only for what they choose, transparency, addressability, and choice!

One of the crucial steps towards achieving these core benefits and to unlock the value of true digitization for all stakeholders, is to rollout and implement packaging.

The MSOs simply seeded set top boxes and encrypted the signal to digital signal. Exaggerating to make a point, here, but digitization ad stopped at this. Despite two years into digitization, MSOs haven’t been able to implement packaging for the consumers due, in our view, to LCO unwillingness to partner for the same.

Star’s new Reference Interconnect Offer (RIO) is a game changer. It has a transparent and non-discriminatory pricing structure with a clearly iterated innovative structure incentivizing easy consumption of Star channels and promoting consumer choice, while helping its trade partners in digitization.

It is a step towards ensuring that packaging gets implemented, thereby truly offering consumers choice and unlocking value for all the stakeholders. It offers equal opportunity to all operators to deliver value to their consumers along with the flexibility to do packaging as per their own business needs and strategy. The greater ability of operators to deliver customized packages to their viewers will consequentially empower the LCOs and in the process, remove the great asymmetry between the MSO and the LCO in the television broadcasting landscape in India.

These are game-changer traits for an industry that, from the early days, has seen all channels offered as a single bundle, negotiations done only on one aspect – price. And without implementing the all-important feature of packaging.

The game changer traits of the STAR RIO are essential to the way of future business in DAS markets, if the digitization eco-system has to grow to its full potential, and the viewer has to be serviced with the greatest possible choice to watch and pay for only what he wants. Because today, more than ever before, consumers need complete flexibility to make their own pack.

So, as first baby steps towards this end, operators  need to implement some tiered packages to begin with and then gradually the industry will evolve towards a complete power handover to consumers to make their own packs.

Content will be consumed on the basis of its popularity, need and value by consumers as per their specific profiles. Hence, consumer profiling will be an important activity in the days to come, and the first steps operators should take would be to do at least basic profiling of consumers through tiered packaging, on the lines of what  DTH operators have done. Look at how DTH operators have been successful in addressing consumer needs, and offering them packages that suit their channel watching requirements and habits, and allow them to pick from tiered packages that help avoid wastage of any kind.Star’s new RIO offers complete flexibility to make such tiered packaging, and hence, is  future-ready.

Digitisation of the entire ecosystem of broadcasting, with all the benefits that transparency, addressability and choice, is critical to unlocking the tremendous value of the broadcasting industry in India. There has been a long-standing need for empowering the viewer with greater choice, and a need for a transparent and non-discriminatory way the broadcaster and platforms to work together.

This new RIO will be a milestone reform going forward. It must be implemented fairly by the MSOs, so that it can pave the way for the further evolution and innovation the industry needs to embrace to grow to the greatest& benefit of the viewer and the entire eco system that serves him.


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