In the battle for live telecast rights of the ongoing four-match Pepsi Series, the conditional access system (CAS) seems to have emerged as the unlikely winner.
As the deadlock over the issue continues between Nimbus, the company with the broadcasting rights, and Prasar Bharati, cable operators have positioned CAS as an elite service.
The marketing strategy is simple. The direct-to-home (DTH) service providers— Tata Sky, Dish TV and Doordarshan— have still not reached an agreement with Nimbus and are not showing Neo Sports, the only channel broadcasting the series as of now.
DD too is not broadcasting the matches to non-cable viewers. So, the only way to watch the Indian cricket team's swashbuckling performance against West Indies is by installing a set-top box (STB).
"Thanks to the controversy, the demand for CAS has shot up. Those who were still undecided whether to switch to CAS or go in for DTH now have a clear choice. We were flooded with requests even on a Sunday," said Inderjeet Singh of Cable Vision Network, which operates in Defence Colony.
In the last one month, DTH has made considerable inroads in the cable TV market in the CAS-notified areas of the city. Both Tata Sky and Dish TV officials concede that the demand for DTH has risen beyond expectation. Cable operators are now looking to turn the tables.
The fiasco has, in fact, brought out the advantages of CAS. Nimbus has priced the package of its two channels— Neo Sports and Neo Sports Plus— at Rs 58 per subscriber per month. ESPN-Star package is cheaper than this. Most multi-system operators (MSOs) and cable operators are weary of subscribing to these channels, as they are not 'feasible'.
"We will have to subscribe the channels for at least a year. We will suffer huge losses if subscribes refuse to pay once the series is over," said a MSO.
However, under CAS you can view the entire series for a nominal amount of Rs 5 per subscriber per month. This is the upper ceiling put by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). "The consumer is the king under CAS.
Nobody can dictate terms to subscribers," said Sunil Punj of Hathway (Win Cable).