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Singapore,SVOD

Singtel Embraces Hooq In Singapore

SVOD startup Hooq has opened shop in Singapore, the home market for its main shareholder Singtel, and where persistent piracy has started reining in revenue for pay-TV.

Pictured (from left): Peter Bithos, Hooq; Goh Seow Eng, Singtel; Krishnan Rajagopalan, Hooq

As part of a staggered rollout, Hooq is on sale at S$8.98 (US$6.4) per month for Singtel’s prepaid mobile subs.

Subsequent launches will cover the telco’s postpaid, fixed broadband and pay-TV customers early next year, while introducing some sachet and weekly pricing options.

In Q1, Hooq will also secure a berth on Cast, Singtel’s online video marketplace.

Cast, which made its debut in July, represents one flank of Singtel’s fightback against pirated viewing, as a cheaper, box-free alternative to conventional pay-TV.

It also hosts Viu, PCCW’s Asian entertainment play, as well as three content packs compiled by Singtel focused on kids, Chinese and Korean programming respectively.

More in-house and third-party offerings across different genres should come on stream within the next few months, all priced below S$10 (US$7.1) per month

“Those are skinny packs that we want people to sign up with no second thoughts or hesitation on the cost,” explains Goh Seow Eng, MD of Home, Consumer Singapore, which houses Singtel’s TV, broadband and fixed voice units.

“We’ve been pretty successful with doing that,” he adds, speaking in an interivew with Media Business Asia.

Hooq’s large library of mainstream Hollywood and Asian fare should garner mass appeal in Singapore, Goh explains, filling an important gap on Cast.

Negotiations for Cast to include Netflix – Singtel’s first OTT video partner, which landed on the platform in January – are ongoing.

Goh sees the services as complementary, with Netflix serving a more high-brow audience.

These initiatives support Singtel’s own anti-piracy efforts around lobbying, legal measures and consumer outreach, which are being ramped up into 2017 as the threat worsens.

They also match up against SVOD services run by rival pay-TV and telco StarHub, which span a number of genres including Hollywood movies, Asian entertainment and sports.

A BIGGER LIBRARY

Hooq, meanwhile, is supplementing its own library with more Malay and Hong Kong content ahead of a local marketing push for Singapore, its fifth market, in 2017.

Michael D’Oliveiro, formerly with Telstra, Astro and Media Prima, has joined as country manager.

Local programming deals are off the table for now, but executives are looking to kickstart Hooq’s first local production in Singapore, as part of an accelerated pipeline for original content.

The pilot for Hooq’s first self-produced show, a drama revival of Filipino indie movie On The Job, should go to air next month.

The company expects to make around six commissions across the region in 2017, alongside wider localization for its non-Hollywood content as well as increased on-ground marketing.

It's all part of a big push to step up paid conversions, after Hooq revamped its interface and viewing experience in October.

Related story: Hooq Tries New Tack For Paying Subs

Post Singapore, Hooq’s rollout will return to its emerging markets focus. Malaysia and Vietnam are next in line.

Some opportunistic launches in the Middle East, including some relatively affluent markets, are also on the cards but further down the track.

At the same time, the company continues to deepen its existing footprint, recently inking a new distribution agreement with Telkomsel, Indonesia’s largest telco.

Monthly data subs to Telkomsel’s latest service, VideoMax, now get Hooq for free with a 7GB monthly data quota, until April 2018.

Telkomsel has struck a similar deal for VideoMax with PCCW’s Viu, which lasts until June 2018.

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