We had the privilege of speaking with Janice Lee, the Managing Director of PCCW Media Group about the plans of Viu, an OTT which builds on PCCW Media’s earlier investment into Vuclip, a leading mobile video platform. Viu was launched in Hong Kong in October last year and in Singapore this January.
1. What are the plans of Viu in Singapore with International players like Netflix, regional players like LeTV and local OTTs like Toggle?
More players in the OTT market is a clear indication of the business opportunity emerging from the rising demand from users. PCCW has a clear track record of successfully launching disruptive entertainment solutions such as now TV, HK’s first iPTV and largest pay-TV service and MOOV, HK’s first OTT music platform. And being a leading provider of Asian entertainment in the region, we hope to capitalise on our strengths, technology and insights to offer more varied entertainment content across multi-screens to more audiences out there. We are confident that we are well-positioned to be a leading player in Asia because of the following reasons:
- We have the relevant content. Our focus is on bringing in premium Asian content and at launch we are offering Singapore viewers Korean content first. Our research shows that Korean content travels well and there is unequivocal preference for Korean content across Asia. Take Singapore as an example, over 53% online video viewers prefer to watch Korean content and in markets like Jakarta, it spirals up to 80%. What’s more, Viu has an extensive library of Korean content, with an exclusive head-start window and rights to 95% of the latest Korean dramas from SBS, KBS, MBC and CJ E&M. In total we have almost 10,000 hours of Korean dramas and variety shows per year, of which 4000 hours are the latest content.
Speedy Localisation — Viu’s amazing speed in localisation of content — as soon as 8 hours after Korea’s first telecast with subtitles in local languages for selected content fulfils the demands of viewers to catch the latest.
– We offer viewers a choice – the option of a free or premium subscription tier. Essentially it is a freemium model where you can access the content for free with some level of ads and a paid premium subscription with enhanced benefits and features. And the service comes with user-friendly features such as multi-device login, synchronisation across devices with viewing history, download to stream capability and more.
2. Like Netflix, will Viu look to produce any of its original content in the foreseeable future?
We will explore all avenues which will bring value to our consumers.
3. Viu is currently on a freemium model. Will you be looking to introduce premium accounts any time soon? Are you also looking at sell adverts with you content?
Viu is based on a freemium model where there are two tiers in our offering – a free tier whereby users get access to the content for free and a monthly premium subscription tier that comes with enhanced benefits and features. The details and differences between the 2 tiers will be announced at a later date. The premium tier will also be launched in partnership with Singtel, our exclusive telco partner on board.
At launch, our priority lies in getting users to try out Viu as much as they can and provide us the feedback to improve our service. We also believe once they’ve tried it out, they will come to be loyal fans. And the feedback from fans in Singapore and regionally have been very encouraging and positive so far.
If you look at the current statistics, Viu has garnered over 500,000 downloads in Hong Kong in less than three months. In Singapore, after just 3 weeks of launch, it has climbed to Number 1 in Google Play and Number 2 in App Store. It has also been rated as one of the best new free apps launched in App Store.
4. Viu has originated from Hong Kong, but your content is predominantly Korean. Any possibility of introducing Chinese or Hong Kong TV content anytime soon?
Yes definitely. Premium Asian content would be our key focus. The reason why we are launching such an extensive library of Korean content in Singapore is based on our research on online drama fans across the region whereby over 53% of Singaporean online drama fans prefer Korean drama above those produced in other countries. Korean drama shows a clear lead over drama series produced in the US and UK. We will be adding other premium Asian content later.
5. What are your expansion plans in Asia?
We will progressively roll out across Asia in the coming months. Topping the list after Singapore will be Malaysia, followed by Indonesia and India.
6. Any plans for the North American or European markets?
Viu is a strategic move to further expand upon PCCW Media’s earlier investment into Vuclip, a leading mobile video platform with over 8 million subscribers across 10 markets, including UAE. And with the addition of Hong Kong and Singapore we now have a total of 12 markets. We are a global player based in Asia and yes with the right opportunity, we could look beyond.