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Streaming ahead: Asia a dynamic video market offering a rich seam of growth opportunities in coming years

By Shaun Lim

The demand and appetite for content on a global scale has never been greater. Either compelled by government restrictions or driven by their own desires to minimise exposure to COVID-19, people are increasingly spending more time at home — and viewing more content than ever before.

More tellingly, it is likely to be a streaming service such as Netflix or Disney+ that viewers are turning to for their content fix. Indeed, streaming services have become the main engine of growth for the global video industry, and Asia is no exception to that, said Nuno Sanches, General Manager, Media & Telecom, Kaltura.

Speaking with APB+, Sanches explained, “We are witnessing a decline in traditional linear TV reach and pay-TV subscriptions in favour of over-the-top (OTT)-based video streaming platforms, as the industry continues with new local and regional services launching their direct-to-consumer offerings to entice new audiences.”

Sanches drew his observations from a 2021 report from GlobalData, a data analytics and consulting company, which expects the APAC pay-TV market to decrease from US$61.6 billion in 2020 to US60.8 billion in 2025. This will be driven largely by a surge in cord-cutting, as more viewers trade traditional pay-TV solutions for OTT alternatives, particularly in the more affluent countries of Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

While acknowledging that the speed of OTT adoption will differ across different countries, Sanches foresaw a generic and irrevocable shift of consumer viewing preferences towards on-demand and live-streamed content. 

He added, “Particularly for the Asian market, we find some specific characteristics in content consumption patterns. For example, smaller screens dominate streamed video viewing; there is a higher preference for advertising-based services and hybrid monetisation compared with the rest of the world, and there is a growing appetite for premium content. 

“These dynamics make Asia one of the most dynamic video markets worldwide, and offer a rich seam of growth opportunities for TV service providers over the coming years.”

To succeed, however, operators need to pay even more attention to the overall quality of service by improving user experience and engagement through top-notch features. Delivering a high-calibre, viewer-centric overall experience will be pivotal in winning the race for eyeballs in this region, Sanches suggested.

Sooka creates content consumers love

As one of Malaysia’s largest pay-TV service providers, Astro has long embraced the shift to content streaming. Besides offering the Astro GO service, the company also launched ‘sooka’ last June, a streaming service targeting millennials with live sports and Malaysian programming.

Deriving its name from the Malay word suka – which loosely translates to ‘love’ or ‘like’ – sooka is powered by the Kaltura Cloud TV Platform, and deploys a hybrid advertising video-on-demand (AVoD) and subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) model, which are proving to be a highly effective way for video businesses to maximise their profits, according to Kaltura’s Sanches.

He elaborated, “With the right technology and audience understanding, service providers can structure and optimise their content offerings to encourage take-up and enhance the user experience.

“For example, offering ad-based tiers in the form of a ‘try-before-you-buy’ experience encourages quicker user acquisition and improved conversion to paid subscription with premium content offerings.”

Another reason why hybrid business models like Astro’s have gained prominence in recent years is because they offer a financially sustainable monetisation model in which everyone in the value chain benefits, Sanches explained.

“Consumers can enjoy a wider variety of content on their terms, meanwhile advertisers can pay for targeted ad inventory across platforms,” he said. “Ultimately, media companies are empowered to leverage the true value of their content to generate more revenue – it is a win-win situation for all.”

In the long run, multi-revenue stream models will not only gain relevance, but are likely to offer new opportunities beyond traditional monetisation approaches, including in-app e-commerce, Sanches predicted.

Delivering content from the cloud

sooka was created as a standalone streaming service offering to capture Malaysia’s digital and mobile-first millennials with a unique value proposition in the face of an increasingly crowded OTT space, according to Euan Smith, CEO of Pay-TV and Group COO at Astro.

The flexibility of Kaltura’s Cloud TV Platform, which is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), is also allowing Astro to quickly adapt to viewer preferences and engagement models, he added.

At a time when consumers are spoiled with a seemingly inexhaustible number of choices to view content, any advantage that can be gained should not be overlooked. Perhaps unsurprisingly, technology is a key enabler that many operators are looking to take advantage of.

TV service providers are primarily moving to cloud-based platforms to enhance discoverability and to broaden their audiences, said Sanches. To compete with global streaming giants in terms of feature breadth, quality standards and user experience, it is imperative that streaming services look for a proven technology partner.

Sanches explained, “They need a partner that makes launching, operating, and managing their Cloud TV service an easy process by providing a set of tools that helps the service to compete in the same playing field as seasoned media companies with far greater resources.”

At Kaltura, the top priority is to deliver to customers a flexible and reliable technology architecture that is adaptable and can incorporate new requirements easily. Fast time-to-market for new services and features, with broadcast-grade service availability in the cloud, are essential, Sanches identified.

“Innovation must be constant in streaming, and our role at Kaltura will always be to embrace it to deliver the high-quality service that viewers have come to expect.

“By doing so, we can offer our customers high-quality, engaging viewing experiences that stand out and develop as viewing habits evolve, as their user base grows, and/or as their business needs change,” he concluded.

Question: Will multi-revenue stream models such as Astro’s hybrid AVoD-SVoD strategy be the way forward for TV service providers to capture mobile-first millennials in the Asia-Pacific region?

If other opportunities beyond traditional monetisation approaches come to your mind, please share them with our APB+ readers by sending them to maven@editecintl.com.

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