- Linear TV and OTT players will have to coexist
- Never discount the ‘bigness’ of event television
IT was a slap in the face for many participants at Digital News Asia’s inaugural What’s Next conference when Media Prima Television Networks chief executive officer Ahmad Izham Omar revealed the cold hard truth: Urban folk do not represent Malaysia.
“You (urban folks) don’t represent Malaysia. You think you do, but the actual fact is you don’t,” he said.
“You watch Breaking Bad and you think that everybody is watching Breaking Bad ... but that it is only a small segment of the market,” he said.
Ahmad Izham was the ‘Provocateur’ for iflix cofounder Mark Britt’s session, which was titled Eye on a US$50bil opportunity in Asean and why the startup mentality gives me an edge.
During this session, Ahmad Izham revealed the top 20 programmes in Malaysia for the first six months of this year. Topping the list was Anugerah Juara Lagu, a local music talent show, watched by 3.7 million people, with a peak of six million viewers.
When he asked What’s Next participants how many watched CNN, at least half of the floor raised their hands.
“Well, guess how many people watch CNN daily on average? It is just under 1,000. It is a small market,” he said, citing data provided by Nielsen.
Linear TV won’t die
Meanwhile, iflix’s Britt shared some figures on the progress of his video-on-demand company that was founded earlier this year by Catcha Group.
Since its launch in May 2015, iflix has streamed five years’ worth of content, he claimed. One of the main drivers for this strong demand is the smart device penetration.
“In 1995, there were only 100 million mobile devices in the world; this year, we passed five billion, of which two billion are smart devices.
“Mobile is now the No 1 media consumption device, and emerging markets are leading,” he said, adding that the gap was getting bigger.
While some see OTT (over the top) players such as iflix and Singapore’s Hooq as disrupting incumbent linear TV players, both Britt and Ahmad Izham believe that OTT and linear TV players complement each another.
Ahmad Izham said that one should look at the entire video viewing ‘ecosystem’ – which comprises traditional linear TV players such as the free-to-air broadcasters and pay-TV operators, as well as VOD players, and even user-generated content.
“Some say that broadcast and linear TV will die. I think that is just a myth. Previously, people have said that radio will die, video will die, cinema will die,” he argued.
“One is more established, one is newer. I don’t think anyone will die. All of us just have to fit into the ecosystem,” he said.
Although OTT services allow consumers to watch their preferred content whenever they want, Ahmad Izham told What’s Next participants that linear TV will still be relevant because of its ‘mass effect.’
“The impact of ‘same time’ experience – having a large number of people watching an event at the same time – can’t be underestimated.
“You can’t discount the ‘bigness’ of event TV, which is straight-up TV because you create a big moment, and it will feed social media. It can only work with linear TV,” he argued.
Ahmad Izham and Britt also agreed that they are in a business whose success hinged on the quality of content they carry.
“At the end of the day, content is king. If you make a hit, they will find you,” said Ahmad Izham.
The What’s Next: The Business Impact of Disruptive Technology conference (#WhatsNextDNA) on Aug 29 was organised by Digital News Asia (DNA).
It was sponsored by Malaysia’s national ICT custodian Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC), which oversees the MSC Malaysia and Digital Malaysia national programmes, and big data analytics company Fusionex International.
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