How do you see the nationwide lockdown & how you kept yourself positive in this pandemic situation?
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered an unprecedented situation which has impacted all spheres of life. Our business is also no exception. However, innovative approaches and proactive planning has helped us to ensure smooth business continuity even amidst the current situation.
We gauged the situation before lockdown was announced and introduced specially curated packs like our Vishesh Manoranjan Pack, Super Entertainment Dhamaka Pack and the basic-level Infopack to ensure that our subscribers
had enough and more options, both price-wise and content-wise; to stay connected and safe at home. These proactive initiatives, along with our Digital Payment platform & 24X7 services on ground have helped us signicantly hold our fort.
How you spent your quarantine days?
Our Business Continuity Plan (BCP) which was laid out much before the lockdown period, has 2 important pivots: 1) Well-being of all stakeholders and 2) Uninterrupted services to subscribers. Hence my major part of the day is being spent reviewing the well-being of all our employees, our LCOs whom we consider as a part of our Parivaar, followed by business review so as to find out means & ways of improving our offerings to subscribers and keep them happy and engaged.
How do you feel working from home? What do you think should this concept change?
Working from home, conducting virtual meeting etc are all part of the new normal and I am enjoying every bit of this change. This new normal will make people more and more digitally connected.
I am sure that with the passage of time all these practices will become our way of life, since nothing is more valuable than human lives.
How are you dealing with the entertainment platform while ensuring safety for your team members and viewers and amid this crucial crisis?
For us, the well-being of all our stakeholders is of utmost importance. Hence, we had circulated precautionary measures about COVID-19 in 12 different vernacular languages to create awareness about this pandemic right at the initial phase. Moreover, we had laid down very specific set of guidelines for our employees, Business Partners & Cable Operators and trained them through different online mode to percolate it to the last mile. We carry out regular audit of each of these guidelines to ensure highest level of compliance. This approach has helped us tremendously to carry on business and yet being safe and healthy.
What impact has COVID-19 crisis brought on the overall scenario of industry and what are the challenges you are tackling with?
Currently this industry is witnessing quite a few challenges which are in turn slowing down the growth process. The biggest challenge comes from the OTT platform which currently has almost no/very low regulations. Some of the OTT apps are even showing content of pay channel absolutely free of cost. Relevant regulations may be required to be put in place to create a level playing field for all. Another significant challenge remains in the huge investment required for upgrading the last mile with fibre for FTTH which is critical for growing the business. This piece must be addressed to realize our dream of Digital India.
Since everything had has been locked down and though unlock-1 has started so what kind of aid you seek from Government and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting?
With this kind of unprecedented on-going Pandemic situation, it is imperative that government comes forward with some concrete support to re-energize this industry.
Firstly, a due consideration to bring down the GST partially may be a significant help to all the players in the industry.
Secondly, this may be an apt time to implement the much-awaited recommendations on “Infrastructure sharing” which could ease the cost burden for many DPOs resulting in consolidation and expansion of the business.
Another critical aspect is to promote digital payment amongst end consumers. This is necessary, especially in current situation, to ensure contact less payment collection. A major impetus towards this would be to reduce the charges on online payment of cable TV subscription fees.
Last but not least, we ought to work out a structured and uniform policy on “Grant of right to way” so as to enable the LCOs to smoothly establish the last mile connectivity across all cities of India. A “Common Duct approach” could be a probable solution in this direction. Prompt intervention from Government towards this aspect may lead to operational excellence.
What are your plans to help LCOs while ensuring safety to ensure services to consumers in lockdown?
As mentioned earlier, well-being of all our Parivaar is of utmost importance to us. Keeping in mind the same, we had circulated different kind of help guide, leaflet, poster in 12 vernacular languages to all our LCOs explaining them the precautionary measures, safety procedure that they need to undertake during this COVID-19 pandemic. We maintain multiple channels of communications with all LCOs so that we are well connected for any kind of support and guidance at any point in time.
How do you see the future of media and entertainment industry after the COVID-19 crisis?
This COVID-19 pandemic has changed the consumer outlook significantly. A “New Normal” has emerged post this pandemic and we all must embrace this new normal to steer our way forward while being safe and healthy.
I think concepts like harnessing digital technology to take care of work remotely, maintaining social distancing while being at work etc would be integral part of this new normal going forward.
Moreover, consumers would increasingly expect holistic experience in “always connected” mode and to keep up with this new consumer expectation, business have to be truly an integrated digital solution provider to deliver an unmatched, seamless experience across Cable TV, Broadband, OTT and Home Surveillance and many more.
During this incubation period it is a tough choice to make for health, for economy, what are your serious plans to build the industry as a next big thing?
During the past few years there has been a significant change in the way people consume entertainment and media. In a fully connected digital world, consumers demand a seamless multichannel experience that is consistent across any device and network they are using.
They are looking at a holistic single-window experience. Hence it is extremely important to be an integrated digital solution provider, which I believe is the next big thing and NXTDIGITAL Ltd is fully geared up to take up that journey.
What advice or suggestions you would like to give to young start-up entrepreneurs?
I always believe that the future of any business will be driven by technology and technology can only be as successful as its reliability in terms of system and processes. Hence it is important to focus on customer centric systems &process and make it robust enough to build a rock-solid foundation for any business.
Another mantra that I strongly believe in is INNOVATION. You must constantly keep innovating. There is no other rule book in business for success other than innovation. Everyone must innovate to stay ahead of the curve.
What a parting message you would like to give to our readers?
My message for all would be to adhere to the safety & well-being measures laid down by the government and adopt to the digital way of life which in turn would help us to undertake a lot of our daily jobs in a contactless way which is the new normal. Let us all fight this pandemic collectively and stay safe and healthy.