We have become accustomed to a great deal of buzz and excitement around the growth potential of the OTT market in Asia. For the first time, last week at the CASBAA OTT Summit in Singapore, our expectations were exceeded. The annual flagship event gathered the top broadcast media executives from around the region and Brightcove was excited to be the lead sponsor. Here are our top three observations from the event:
OTT Leapfrogs Digital Broadcast TV in Emerging Markets
Countries that have lagged in the transition from analog to digital broadcast TV are paving the way in OTT services. Interestingly, OTT has become highly relevant in emerging markets, which despite bandwidth limitations, have leapfrogged traditional media distribution and embraced digital content distribution methods. In this respect, OTT services are not seen as a companion or value-add to the provider’s core business, but rather as a sustainable standalone business model. In fact, services have reached a point where scalability, distribution across devices and platforms, and forming content partnerships is key to remaining viable.
One Content Revenue Model Does Not Fit All
In January 2016, we saw the arrival of Netflix into Asia. What was initially seen as a formidable threat to existing and upcoming OTT providers has turned into a boon. Netflix’s presence has served to educate the market about SVOD pricing and to establish a pricing benchmark that attributes value to quality content.
Much like the rest of the world, OTT players in Asia are still experimenting with various business models — subscription (SVOD), ad-supported (AVOD), transactional (TVOD) or a hybrid approach. One example is PrimeTime of Thailand, an on-demand streaming service that offers three different pricing packages to viewers with the choice of individual rentals (TVOD), movie library subscription (SVOD), or a “buffet” combination of movies and series.
Another noticeable trend is emerging as providers start to think beyond the traditional linear TV advertising experience. We are seeing a shift to shorter ads and native branded content which underscores the importance of ads needing to conform to what consumers expect from OTT services instead of simply mimicking the traditional TV model.
Yes, [Yawn], Content is Still King — But Niche & Local Content is Key
Content will always be a core differentiator amongst OTT providers. It is, however, with the originally produced, local, and niche content that the real battle for viewers is fought. OTT players who offer compelling and culturally relevant content are winning. A great example is The Viral Fever, one of India’s rising OTT stars who last year, made waves in the industry with original shows TVF Pitchers and Permanent Roommates, the most watched online web TV series in India to date. Another example is HeroTalkies, an online entertainment streaming service offering local Tamil content to the Indian diaspora who would otherwise miss watching these films whilst away from home. When it comes to niche content, Asian Food Channel from Scripps Networks Interactive is a great example of content specially produced to appeal to foodies and to anyone with a keen interest in cooking.
One thing is clear: players like The Viral Fever, HeroTalkies, and Asian Food Channel all understand that finding audiences and delivering content is just one part of the strategy. The other part is delighting the audience to ensure long-term retention, which means implementing a serious strategy to build an ongoing pipeline of original, differentiated, or new content to keep audiences coming back for more.