VOD space in Malaysia heats up with TM-Viu pact
By Goh Thean Eu February 23, 2016
- Free for Streamyx and UniFi customers for first 3mths, then RM10/mth
- TM does not see its Viu partnership as conflicting with its iflix pact
AFTER successful launches in Hong Kong and Singapore, Hong Kong-based telecommunications conglomerate PCCW Ltd is optimistic that its Viu video-on-demand (VOD) service will garner high ratings in Malaysia.
Viu is an over-the-top (OTT) VOD service developed by Vuclip, which in turn is majority-owned by PCCW. The conglomerate acquired the lion’s share of Vuclip equity in March 2015 for an undisclosed amount.
Viu was first launched in Hong Kong last December and in Singapore in January. The service has been “very well received,” according to PCCW Media Group managing director Janice Lee.
“We have seen great traction in these markets. In Hong Kong and Singapore, we have been consistently the No 1 or No 2 in terms of app downloads on the Android and iOS app stores,” she said.
“We expect our launch in Malaysia to be equally successful, especially given our strategic partnership with Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM),” she told a media briefing announcing its partnership with the telco giant in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 22.
According to Vuclip founder and chief executive officer Nickhil Jakatdar, the Viu app has seen some 500,000 downloads from Hong Kong. However, he was not able to reveal the official numbers for the Singapore market.
As part of the effort to extend Viu’s reach in Malaysia, PCCW has tied up with fixed-line giant TM.
With the partnership, starting from mid-March, TM’s broadband customers will have access to Viu as part of their TM subscription, in addition to the existing HyppTV IPTV (Internet Protocol television) service.
According to TM executive vice president Jeremy Kung (pic above), the Viu service will be available to TM broadband customers for free for the first three months, after which they would be charged RM10 (US$2.36 at current rates) a month.
Less than three months ago, TM announced a similar pact with Kuala Lumpur-headquartered VOD player iflix that allows TM customers to enjoy a one-year subscription at no additional cost.
TM customers simply have to go to iflix.com or use the iflix app, with no need to sign up or sign in. The iflix system will instantly recognise the user is on TM’s Streamyx or UniFi broadband service and will tag the device and enable the service on that device.
Kung believes that TM’s partnerships with the two VOD companies “offer synergistic values” to its customers and do not conflict with each other.
“There’s no conflict in terms of what we are offering with iflix and Viu,” he said, arguing that iflix content is more international in nature, while Viu content is more Asian-oriented.
iflix, owned by Catcha Group, offers international and Asian content including movies and TV series from Hollywood, as well as those from Asia.
Viu’s content offering in Malaysia are mostly Korean TV series, but it also offers music videos, Indian movies, as well as Malaysian dramas.
Iflix and Viu content may not be entirely identical, but there are overlaps. A quick check by Digital News Asia (DNA) found a few shows available on both platforms, such as TV series Miss Ripley, Secret Love, Hong Gil-Dong the Hero and The Innocent Man.
The two VOD players are also pricing their services at almost the same level: iflix is offering a full- year package for RM96, while Viu is charging RM10 a month.
Besides being an Asian-centric VOD player, Viu’s business model is also different from iflix and Netflix, operating on a freemium model as opposed to full subscriptions, according to Lee (pic).
Malaysian viewers will have access to thousands of hours of content for free. They can also subscribe to a premium portion of the service which includes an ad-free experience, as well as access to additional premium content, for that RM10 a month.
As at press time, Viu was accessible via mobile phones, tablets, and desktops by downloading the Viu app on Google Play, or by typing www.viu.com on the desktop browser. It is yet to be made available on Apple’s App Store.
Besides the business model differentiation, Viu also offers consumers “value-added features,” according to Lee.
A selection of the latest Korean dramas will carry English subtitles eight hours after their Korean premier, and Bahasa Malaysia subtitles within 24 hours.
“Viu is a global brand that is also a very local product, because we see Asia as a collective of many different markets,” said Lee.
“There is content that is suitable for everyone – for example, we see that Korean content travels very well in South-East Asia, but there needs to be some localisation.
“In each market, our country team is very actively acquiring local content to add to that more regional mix. The fast turnaround in subtitling I think is quite unprecedented,” she added.
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