THERE will always be a portion of the population that will continue to watch free-to-air programmes in an ever-changing market place that has pay-TV and over-the-net content.
Media Prima Bhd is one such company which believes there is a market for its programmes and it will continue to leverage on its experience and strength to create and aggregating content for its channels. It’s also in a position to offer content to any player.
It has four free-to-air channels, TV3, ntv7, 8TV and TV9 which are also part of satellite pay-TV Astro’s offering.
“We are now platform agnostic so that we can push our content to any player in the market place, be it a pay-TV operator or an IPTV player,” says Media Prima Bhd chief operating officer, shared services (TV networks) Datuk Kamal Khalid.
He says there is a lot of content that is pushed through by the providers, but in terms of local content, Media Prima believes it has a lot to offer. It has a library of over 15,000 hours of content that can be pushed to any operator.
The new digital cable TV operator, ABN is also in exploratory talks with Media Prima to package the channels and make it part of its offering.
“We are still able to play a role because of our established brand. People believe in brands to bring commitment,” he says, adding that not everyone is a pay-TV subscriber and that is why its services are still in demand.
Media Prima was conceived as part of the group and debt restructuring exercise that saw Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd hiving off its media assets – Sistem Televisyen Malaysia Bhd (TV3) and the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd. Taking over the listing status of TV3, Media Prima was then listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia in October 2003.
It went on to acquire the other non-Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) TV channels, eventually owning a 100% equity stake in TV3, 8TV, ntv7, and TV9.
Owing to its free-to-air model, Media Prima has a stranglehold on local viewership with a 49% share, and TV3 has maintained its lead position with 28% of viewers.
The integrated media group’s new media division, led by tonton.com.my, is also doing well. The website offers free viewing of shows screened on its TV stations, as well as other paid video content. That online channel completes its offering in both the offline and online space.
In a note to clients, AmResearch says the unique visitors to Media Prima-owned websites was up 20% quarter-on-quarter for the quarter ended Sept 30.
Media Prima also boasts a content creation arm called Primeworks Studios Sdn Bhd which is Malaysia’s largest production company. The studio has produced TV shows and feature films since 1984 and 1994 respectively, generating over 5,000 hours of TV content and 10 movies annually, according to its website.
It has had a hand in programmes such as Anugerah Juara Lagu, Majalah 3, Nona, Jalan Jalan Cari Makan, One In A Million, Mentor, Wanita Hari Ini, Melodi, Malaysia Hari Ini and Jejak Rasu, while feature films include the Yasmin Ahmad-helmed Talentime, Senario, Evolusi KL Drift, Cinta, Susuk, Duyung, Dunia Baru and Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula.
An analyst reiterates that Media Prima has the viewership numbers and its strength lies in its origination of content, which has become an essential part of Malaysia’s TV landscape.
But it may suffer some lost adex next year with the entry of ABN, the analyst says, adding that the “pie is not getting any bigger”.