Netflix, iflix or Astro?

Some of the movies offered by Netflix. The company is now in 190 countries with more than 70 million members and counting.

Fight for English segment will come down to content offering, subscription pricing and differentiation in service

NEWS of Netflix’s entry here has got many Malaysians wide-eyed with ecstasy, with some already charting their marathon to-do lists.

Malaysians and many people around the world have been for quite a while sulking on the unavailability of the popular American on-demand entertainment streaming provider in their home countries.

With Netflix’s recent announcement, it is now in 190 countries with more than 70 million members and counting, watching more than 125 million hours in movies and TV shows every day, including original series, documentaries and feature films.

This includes Marco Polo, an American drama series inspired by Italian merchant traveller Marco Polo’s early years, part of which was filmed at Malaysia’s Pinewood Studios.

But recall that iflix, a similar movies and tv series streaming service, was only launched about six months ago.

Some say that iflix could lose its following given Netflix’s popularity and reputation, but iflix Malaysia is not too perturbed by the latter’s entrance here. The company has said it will continue providing the “broadest most relevant” content selection for local consumers at an affordable price.

Notably, an iflix subscription costs as low as RM8 per month, compared with Netflix’s lowest fee of RM31 per month.

According to an earlier StarBiz report, iflix Malaysia group chief operating officer and chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani says Netflix’s newly found presence in Malaysia is positive for the industry and only reaffirms the global shift of how entertainment is traditionally consumed to on-demand.

“For consumers, it is great that at least a subset of the Netflix branded content is now legally available without a VPN (virtual private network),” he said.

What this all means is there is now much more English entertainment content available for viewers in Malaysia. They are now, more than ever, spoilt for choice in terms which provider they favour over the other.

The fight for the English segment will come down to content offering, subscription pricing and differentiation in service, among others.

The proliferation in English media will mean providers have to be smarter in how content is presented, as consumers now demand more flexibility, freedom and convenience in how they consume content.

This also means there are new opportunities for content providers in marketing their product to a niche, or personalised audience.

What Netflix and iflix have yet to offer is live sports or entertainment events. The difference between the two is that some local content is available on iflix. Local content is one of the things that would keep Malaysians from forgetting about their subscription to pay-TV provider Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd, analysts say.

According to an Astro spokesperson, Malaysians on average spend 75% of their four to five hours of daily TV viewing watching Astro’s original local signatures.

“Viewership of our Gegar Vaganza, Kilauan Emas, Pencetus Ummah, Strawberi Karipap, Ceria Popstar, Chinese Golden Melody, Hua Hee Dai and Vaanavil International Superstar outstrips most Hollywood offering. Polis Evo, our latest Malay movie, broke the local box office and smashed all previous pay-per-view movie records,” the spokesperson says.

On top of that, last October, Astro launched its on-demand (OD) offering, enabling consumers to personalise their TV viewing experience from the selection of content to how and when they want to watch it.

It also has Astro On The Go (AOTG), which basically delivers non-stop entertainment on smartphones, tablets and laptops.

“We have seen healthy take up of our OD services with 252,000 connected PVRs (personal video recorders), 1.8 million AOTG downloads with an average 150 minutes weekly viewing,” the spokesperson says.

The company’s content strategy is tailored to serve all Malaysians on all screens, anywhere and anytime.

Its content includes live sports and live events, something neither Netflix nor iflix has. Sports fans can watch live sports such as UEFA EURO 2016, Rio 2016 Olympics, La Liga, BPL, WWE Specials, FIA Formula One World Championship, The Six Nations Championship, Wimbledon and US Open Tennis Championships and Thomas & Uber Cup 2016, among others.

Live entertainment events and same-day offerings include the Academy Awards, the Grammys, HBO’s Game Of Thrones and Fox’s Empire.

Although Netflix and iflix are shaking things up in the media industry here, market observers feel that traditional media platforms like Astro might not lose out due to its wide customer base.


Across The Star Online