PLDT, the Philippines’ largest telco, is looking to cultivate more content relationships and broaden its suite of video services, as the company gears up to relaunch its big-screen internet TV service in the first half of next year.
OTT competition in the Philippines is heating up, as both PLDT and number two telco Globe build out entertainment ecosystems to support burgeoning investments in high-speed broadband.
As part of that, Globe has signed a promotional deal with Google’s streaming product for TV sets, Chromecast.
In its latest move, PLDT plans to replace its current TV streaming service – TVolution, which debuted at the end of last year – with hardware and software from Roku, announcing a licensing deal last week.
Roku offers both a better consumer experience, more akin to traditional TV than TVolution, as well as valuable content relationships, explains Oscar Reyes, who heads PLDT’s consumer facing fixed broadband business, Home.
“We are no longer dependent on our own efforts,” Reyes tells Media Business Asia. “We get to scale with this partnership.”
A bigger buffet
PLDT Home already offers subscribers access to paid OTT services from Fox and Iflix, including a complimentary trial (30 days for Fox, one month for Iflix).
Reyes is keen to leverage Roku’s relationships to link up with more content partners.
The initial plan calls for a few more services, free and paid, as well as streamed linear channels from sibling pay-TV platform Cignal, to help reboot PLDT’s internet TV offering.
“We are not rushing to have everything there from the outset,” he says.
“As long as we have the most relevant ones for subscribers, they are the most important,” he adds.
“Once we have those in place, that’s a good start for consumers to really want to get this service. Then, we will continuously build from there.”
Roku’s accessible interface should also help accelerate uptake and use of internet TV among PLDT subs, who tend to associate OTT viewing with smartphones and laptops, Reyes adds.
“It’s very intuitive for TV users, the way the set-top box works is very similar to watching TV, unlike now to be honest,” he says.
“From what we offer, the UI can definitely be improved.”
Pricing and product details for the new service will be revealed closer to launch.
The deal is also a first in Asia for Roku’s business-to business offering Powered, currently used by Telstra in Australia and Sky in Europe.
PLDT had 1,347,422 fixed broaband subs in 1H 2016, a 14% lift on 1H 2015.