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Bright outlook for over-the-top market in Asia


MORE online and video streaming services are making their way into Asia.

With rapid technological advancement coupled with high Internet and broadband penetration, Asia is the ripe market for these services, according to media analysts.

For example, iQiyi, which is owned by web services company Baidu, currently the largest online video site in China, is still on an expansion mode in the region. MyTV Super, from Hong Kong broadcaster TVB is also gaining momentum in this area, besides Toggle (from Singapore broadcaster Mediacorp).

According to Media Partners Asia (MPA), a leading independent provider of research and analysis on media and telecoms, online video revenue, comprising net advertising spend and subscription fees, will grow at a 21% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) across Asia Pacific between 2017 and 2022, climbing from US$18bil in 2017 to US$46bil by 2022.

China will continue to contribute the lion’s share of customers and revenue, garnering 85% of subscription video on demand (SVOD) customers and 78% of online video sector revenues in Asia Pacific by 2022.

MPA executive director Vivek Couto says that unlike free-to-air and pay TV, online video pricing power remains relatively modest in most markets. More encouragingly, he adds, the move from household-based consumption to individual users across mobile is helping to significantly expand reach for over-the-top (OTT) services operators.

OTT is the audio, video, and other media content delivered over the Internet.

“Although piracy and under-developed payment infrastructure will continue to limit growth across much of South-East Asia, increased broadband penetration (led by mobile connectivity) will position telcos as key partners to drive online video revenue.

“Payment infrastructure will improve over the medium term. Online video advertising remains a scalable opportunity in South-East Asia, while SVOD revenue will grow rapidly but from a very low base,” he notes.

On the home turf, with global video streaming service provider Netflix making its presence in Malaysia early last year and its rival, iFlix, which has been operating since 2015, the prospect and popularity of such services look bright.

iFlix is available in 19 countries in South-East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The service has five million subscribers, though it is dwarfed by Netflix, which added 5.2 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2017 alone.

Although the subscribers are small compared to free-to-air and pay TV, media planners are upbeat that the take-up rate and subscriptions will grow significantly over the next three to five years. Content has to be relevant, in line with what consumers want and pricing has to be competitive, analysts says.

Realising the potential of OTT streaming services, local media groups have also up their initiatives in this space. Media Prima Bhd launched the first local OTT streaming service in Malaysia called tonton in 2010 and as of May it has 6.8 million users. Last year, a subscription income model was included for its relaunched tonton video on demand services.

Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd with its Astro Go app has 1.2 million registered users as at April 30. The app enables users to access its content on demand on mobile devices.

The TV operator has also launched Tribe, a regional online video streaming service, and is now in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. As at April 30, Tribe has a user base of 1.3 million who are watching an average of 125 minutes per week. Meanwhile, Star Media Group launched dimsum.my, an all-Asian video-on-demand service last November.

Fox Networks Group will soon be launching its new on-demand video streaming service Fox+ in Malaysia. — By Daljit Dhesi

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