afaqs! news bureau

Hinduja's HITS service, NXT Digital, to be launched in August

NXT Digital aims to help the cable operator fraternity in analog markets make a smooth and timely transition to digital in DAS Phase III and IV. The company is investing $100 million in the service.

Hinduja Group's Headend-In-The-Sky (HITS) service will be called NXT Digital. It has also shared details of its offerings to the distribution fraternity in a market of over 110 million analog TV households in India.

The NXT Digital service will provide television channels to cable operators through a satellite instead of the traditional cable television headend, where multitudes of satellite dishes and antennas are used to grab cable stations from dozens of communication satellites. The low comparative capital investment is expected to be the biggest draw for the network owner, apart from the additional revenue opportunity through VAS services - something which is not possible with DTH. Hence, the network owner will no longer have to worry about high investment costs to provide Digitised Cable TV services, the company said in a press statement.

Hinduja's HITS service, NXT Digital, to be launched in August
NXT Digital aims to help the cable operator fraternity in analog markets make a smooth and timely transition to digital in DAS Phase III and IV. The service is devised as per the feedback from the cable operator fraternity in eight states and 120 cities. Hinduja's objective is to enable the cable operator fraternity in DAS Phase III and IV markets to continue to be independent, own their network and go digital as per the Government's mandate. It also intends to help the cable operators own and provide local channels, VAS (value added services) and OTT (over-the-top) services for customer empowerment and growth.

As per the figures shared, DAS rollout in Phase III markets will see around 50 million analog households converting to digital by end-2015. Similarly, over 60 million households in Phase IV will go digital by the end of 2016.

Hinduja's HITS service, NXT Digital, to be launched in August
Hinduja's HITS service, NXT Digital, to be launched in August
NXT Digital is an initiative of Grant Investrade, a wholly owned subsidiary of M/s Hinduja Ventures Ltd. The Hinduja Group has earmarked an investment of $100 million into the NXT Digital platform of which $80 million has already been spent in launching the service.
Hinduja's HITS service, NXT Digital, to be launched in August
Tony D'Silva, MD, Grant Investrade Limited, says, "We believe NXT Digital will strongly support the laudable national mission to roll out Digital Addressable Systems of broadcasting all over India. DAS will not only empower, inform and entertain the consumers, but, through news, knowledge and infotainment will help them contribute to societal improvement and national economic growth.

Satellite-based NXT Digital will have its footprint across India, and will be able to roll out its offerings across the nation. However, in view of the deadline for DAS rollout, Grant Investrade Limited is focussing its awareness and marketing drive on the opportunity to enable the distribution fraternity to provide digital services in the Phase III markets.

In the development stage, the company undertook an in-depth research to find out the requirements of the distribution fraternity. It reached out to over 2000 LMOs, MSOs and their representatives across 120 cities in Phase III and IV markets, and asked each of them what they wished they could be able to do with their businesses when it was time to offer television broadcasting - along with other value-added services - through encrypted digitally addressable systems.

"The research threw up six major requirements of the LMOs and MSOs. They wanted to retain ownership of their network; drive broadcaster deals; package and price their offerings according to the needs of their market; they wanted the facility to acquire Set Top Boxes (STBs) as per their convenience; the ability to insert local channels for their end-subscribers, and a sophisticated digital service that could help them compete with other digital platforms like DTH to ensure their digital offerings were future-ready, so that their subscriber-bases would only grow. In other words, they wanted to remain independent, own their network, and go digital as per government norms and within the deadlines. That is why we designed NXT Digital to offer a choice of two different service models as per their requirements - a white label service model and a full service model," D'Silva explains.

By signing up for a NXT Digital service, a network owner in the Phase III market can be saved the burden of having to make huge investments in the technology and highly skilled manpower required to convert his analog households to digital. A NXT Digital headend will help them provide 500+ MPEG-4 encrypted services including HD channels with the ability to insert local channels as per requirement, robust SD and HD STBs with PVR functionality, world-class conditional access and subscriber management systems, a 24x7 call centre in multiple languages for customer support, a user-friendly operator terminal and the ability to provide VAS, OTT and other add-on digital services as and when rolled out.

"We will take care of the entire infrastructure and backend, including a call centre for customer service, while the network owner can concentrate on growing his business through managing his network, local channels deployment, broadcaster deals and more," D'Silva says, adding, "Everything we do will be LMO and MSO focused."

NXT Digital has technology partners like Thaicom-7 for Satellite, C-Band Transponders; Nagravision DLK for CAS-embedded platform; OpenTV1 for Middleware; Hansen Technologies for Subscription Management System and Billing Solutions, and Changhong, Telesystems and others for STBs.

"Our HITS platform is of a quality, scale and investment unprecedented in India and has been made possible by our brilliant technology program managers - Castle Media Pvt Ltd and its team, led by Vynsley Fernandes, who has set up several world-class operations in broadcasting and digital networks in India and overseas," D'Silva informs.

The brand logo of NXT Digital has been designed by Chlorophyll.

Grant Investrade Limited (GIL) has readied a pan-India awareness drive across markets, showcasing its services portfolio, technology capabilities and quality of services. The campaign will use all media consumed by the primary target audience, including, but not limited to, radio, local media and OOH.

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