If there were two themes that dominated this year’s Broadcast Asia they were the rise in OTT video and the belief that Asian markets are different.
Rob Van Dem from IBM presented research that showed marked differences between Asia and Europe, and not just the expected differences in the economic climate. It is true that Asian markets are seeing substantial growth in pay-TV and TV advertising revenues, and this allows Asian operators to invest far more heavily in new technologies, but there is a continued insistence that new services must be proven in market. This was reinforced by consumer research showing that Asians use mobile and internet devices far more readily than their European counterparts. Whereas Europeans who used mobile and internet devices tended to be markedly younger, in Asia there was uniform usage across all generations.
These differences are undoubtedly what are leading Asian operators to find their own business models, rather than relying on examples from other markets. Several speakers reinforced the belief that just because something works in Europe it cannot be guaranteed to work in Asia.
An interesting case in point was Astro’s new OTT service, presented by Sharhul Imran Sultan, which provides a comprehensive suite of live TV, video-on-demand, and catch-up TV, but is bundled for subscribers together with Astro’s multiroom service. Astro have justified the business case for OTT in selling more multiroom subscriptions, and been able to invest sufficiently that the service became the top free download in the Apple store within days of launch.
Asia remains a largely untapped market for many TV technology vendors, and with double-digit growth appears much riper than other territories, but success clearly requires substantial local understanding, knowledge, and a commitment to take the Asian viewpoint rather than replicating solutions that have worked in other markets.