Is Netflix ready for the Southeast Asia challenge?Tamanna Mishra
Southeast Asia has long been touted as the next hotspot for video streaming services. With a large digitally native population and internet bandwidth and penetration on an upswing, it is no surprise that global names like Netflix, local ones like iflix, and telecom service providers are all vying for consumers’ eyeballs and screen time.
Most of these services, including global ones like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, offer a combination of local and international hits, exclusive series, Hollywood, local film productions, Asian and Korean drama, and much more. The mix varies from region to region, and so can subscription numbers, making it difficult to truly say who is winning where and for how long. Despite the rather ambiguous data available from the region, it is safe to say that competition in Southeast Asia’s video-streaming market is cutthroat, with everyone vying for a larger slice of the pie.
Meet the local competition
Netflix officials have previously talked about how Asia continues to be one of their biggest challenge markets. The global market leader will continue to invest resources in the region’s offerings, and with good reason – the local players are offering some pretty tough competition. From Malaysia to Singapore to Taiwan, a bunch of platforms have embedded themselves into the local markets and come up with unique strategies and offerings to beat the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. We take a closer look at some of the biggest local players:
A subscription-based video-on-demand service, iflix managed to establish a small lead over Netflix in the SEA market with early offerings of a wide and diverse catalogue. Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the site serves as a digital hosting and distribution platform for short- and long-form dramas, and has content partnerships with over 150 studios and production houses globally. The partnerships include names like Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, NBC, Sony Pictures, and many more.
With over 5 million subscriptions as of last month and presence in 25 countries around Asia, Middle East, and Africa, iflix is a force to contend with in South East Asia.
Hooq, which operates in Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand, is led by an alliance of Singtel, Sony, and Warner Brothers. With over 35,000 hours of content, Hooq has the brand credibility and deep pockets of any multinational streaming service operating in the region. The service crossed 1 million subscribers earlier this year. Soon after, it changed its strategy to reach consumers directly instead of its erstwhile B2B model with exclusive partnerships with broadband service providers.
Viki is a Singapore-based streaming platform with a unique proposition – combining video streaming with crowdsourcing. The platform gives users access to a large catalogue of video content which they can voluntarily add subtitles to under a Creative Commons license. These fan-subtitled videos are then shared and circulated on the platform, and through Viki’s syndication partnerships on other networks like Hulu. Viki’s strong community and availability of a catalogue in over 150 languages (some of them endangered) make it a huge competitor for Netflix and the like.
A relative newcomer, Malaysian platform Tribe has nevertheless seen rapid growth, hitting 1 million downloads in the first year of its working. The platform boasts an impressive content of Southeast Asian content, especially Korean dramas. The platform also has a strong following on account of its live sports streaming offerings, and has a huge chunk of viewers under 35, capturing a key target market that is also highly attractive to global players like Netflix.
With a finger on consumers’ pulse and a deep understanding of cultural and linguistic nuances, is it safe to say that the local streaming service players have an edge over the deep pockets of Netflix and other global players? This remains to be seen. Consumers can definitely look forward to improved offerings and services as local players and global leaders compete for domination in video streaming services in Southeast Asia.