Excitel partners Zee5, others to woo customers; eyes 3 lakh new users by year-end

Broadband service provider Excitel aims to add about 3 lakh new users this year and is undertaking a series of steps to woo subscribers, including partnering OTT (Over-the-top) players like Zee5, Eros Now and others.

The company, which had about 5 lakh subscribers across 19 cities at the end of 2020, is also aggressively expanding FTTH (fibre to the home) deployment on its network.

“There was a general trend of people moving from broadcast television to more OTT but that got accelerated during COVID. We understand that people subscribe to multiple OTT services and want to make it easier to access these and so, we are bundling multiple OTT services with our package,” Excitel CEO Vivek Raina told PTI.

He added that while the three-month package for its FTTH customers is a pilot, depending on the response, the company will look at expanding the offering as well as partnering with more OTT companies.

The bundled service will allow subscribers to access content from ZEE5, Voot, Eros Now and ShemarooMe for free with Excitel’s 300 Mbps for 3 months plan.

Raina said since February, the company is selling only FTTH (or optical fibre) connections and all new customers being onboarded get fibre lines.

“We have stopped legacy sales (copper wire infrastructure) and by the end of the year, we hope to convert all existing customers to FTTH. Of the 5.3 lakh users now, about two lakh are active fibre connections. By end of the year, we expect our subscriber base to cross 8 lakh and expand to 50 cities from the current 19,” he added.

Raina noted that the reason for extending the bundled offer to FTTH users only was on account of the “speeds and reliability of fiber being much more, and the user experience being better”.

He stated that while the bundling of OTT services may not necessarily lead to a spike in user addition, it will help in retaining customers.

“Broadband is now a utility, people are studying and working from home, taking video calls and online classes. Then there is OTT consumption, gaming as well as a rise in use of IoT devices at home. The average daily data consumption used to be about 5-6 GB per subscriber pre-COVID, which zoomed to 15-20GB a day,” he said.

He added that while consumption has now come down slightly to about 10-11GB as normalcy has resumed, it is unlikely to return to pre-COVID levels.

OTT players like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+Hotstar have seen massive growth in the Indian market in the past few years on the back of cheap data tariffs and availability of affordable smartphones. The consumption of OTT content is also on the rise on smart

as prices of these devices have come down significantly over the past few years.

The adoption of these digital platforms was further accelerated during the pandemic amid restricted social activities like visits to movie theatres.

Raina pointed out that while a number of mobile service providers have partnered with OTT players to offer content to subscribers, the consumption pattern on broadband is very different from cellular services. Consumption on cellular networks is about 1-2GB a day, while that on broadband is significantly higher as people can easily binge-watch content, he added.

“We are also teaming up with other content providers to sort of have direct interconnectivity with them. The other thing would be to add gaming packages and gaming servers to this mix, so that we can cover niche categories like gaming so that we can provide high-quality, jitter-free gaming experience to our users,” he said.

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