A clutch of OTT deals in Singapore inaugurates a new cycle of broadband competition between Singtel and StarHub, the city’s entrenched pay-TV rivals.
Both operators are leveraging the brand and cachet of Netflix – recently launched in the territory – via set-top box and billing integration to go live in Q2, making it easier for their broadand customers to watch and pay for Netflix content.
Singtel is pushing harder however, offering complimentary Netflix subscriptions ranging between three to nine months to new and renewing customers, as part of an exclusive promotion.
It’s an aggressive play, similar to another Netflix tie-up in Australia that helped sister company Optus expand its share of the broadband market.
At the same time, Singtel also landed access to an impressive array of day-and-date on-demand Korean drama this month via Viu, a regional video-streaming service backed by Hong Kong telco PCCW.
Both deals strengthen Singtel’s hand in US as well as Asian movies and entertainment, helping complement existing and future investments in sports and vernacular programming.
the importance of iP
Unlike Singtel, rival StarHub has access to HBO as well as a larger content portfolio from Fox, in addition to a longstanding collaboration with Hong Kong’s biggest broadcaster TVB.
StarHub has also incubated its own domestic SVOD service, StarHub Go, which launched on a test basis last September.
The company is experiencing significant growth in its fiber business, as part of an ongoing shift away from its cable business to IPTV. Online consumption through its box will play a key role aiding that transition.
TV and video have long played a key role in driving yields in Singapore, a saturated market for traditional pay-TV where new battle-lines are taking shape around bundles and broadband delivery.
The arrival of new services such as Netflix and Viu, as well as brand extensions such as HBO Go and StarHub Go, will add more fuel to the fire in a market where, until recently, piracy was rife and there were few legal SVOD alternatives.
More will come, including Singtel’s regional SVOD offering Hooq, as well as paid video as part of a broader push around hardware and related data services from Chinese tech giant LeEco, the new corporate identity for Letv.
This increased activity also challenges regional broadcasters, whose revenues still rely heavily on linear consumption, to do more in the OTT space.
At the same time, burgeoning broadband consumption threatens to recalibrate content economics, as billing integration provides a new model for consumers to pay for what they watch.