Pay-TV competition to heat up

2012.11.16 [theSun, p. 15 (sunBIZ)] Pay-TV competition to heat up

[Kang Siew Li] KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 16, 2012): Competition in the local pay-television (TV) market is set to heat up as Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) switches its focus on getting more people to subscribe to its HyppTV internet protocol (IP) pay-TV service.

The country’s largest telecommunication company (telco) launched a new campaign last month to highlight the depth and variety of its HyppTV service offerings to the market.

The campaign forms part of the telco’s drive to hit the 500,000 pay-TV subscriber mark by the end of the year. TM today has about 450,000 HyppTV subscribers, but still trails far behind market leader Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s 3.1 million customer base.

Its executive vice-president of new media Jeremy Kung, said the telco made a conscious decision a few years ago to focus on building the UniFi brand.

“Although UniFi is a bundled triple play service offering high speed internet, voice (phone) and HyppTV, we had initially decided to focus on the first two, and that’s why awareness of HyppTV is a lot lower today,” he told SunBiz in an interview.

“But now that UniFi has been quite successful as a brand, we have embarked on an on-going campaign to tell people that HyppTV is part of UniFi and what its offerings are.”

Kung said through the campaign, he wants to get across the point that when a customer signs up for UniFi, they not only get Internet and voice services but also an IPTV set top box with about 20 channels to watch for free.

“On top of that, they can subscribe to HyppTV’s other channel offerings,” he said.

HyppTV now has a total of 105 channels or content compared with Astro’s 156 TV channels.

“These channels can be purchased on an ‘ala carte’ basis, that is, you only pay for what you watch, or you can buy our packages.

“For example, we have a platinum pack for RM30 per month which will give you 30 premium channels on top of the 20 free ones as well as a few video on demand (VOD) titles.”

While VOD service is new to Malaysians, Kung noted that there has been a gradual increase in take-up of its VOD content, especially for Hollywood movies which are priced at RM8 per title.

Kung also said TM is always on the lookout for further content opportunities, but acknowledged that content affordability and availability pose a challenge to the telco because it is relatively new to the game.

“We are only two-and-a-half years old (in the pay-TV market). A lot of the content are not within our reach, be it in terms of cost or because the broadcast rights are held exclusively (by another pay-TV company).

“Having said that, content providers are a creative lot, creating new channels. Every forum or event that I go to, there are bound to be a few people who come up with new channels.

“If they fit into the demographics of our subscribers, we will then look at whether it is cost effective to buy. We take what makes sense for us … whether it fits into our whole strategy of offerings.”

Meanwhile, Kung deemed the entry of Asian Broadcasting Network Sdn Bhd (ABN) into the local pay-TV market as “good and healthy”.

“Malaysians deserve options. At the end of the day, it (which pay-TV operator customers choose) is (determined by) what kind of services do they provide.”

Kung also believes that there is scope for pay-TV operators to grow their share in the local market.

He said based on Astro’s customer base, pay-TV penetration in Malaysia currently stands at slightly more than 50% of the country’s TV households, a low figure compared with matured markets like Singapore and Hong Kong which have passed the 100% penetration level.  SourcePDF