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Content, collaboration enable OTTs to address customers’ increased streaming fix

“Premium content and collaborations are two of the most important aspects for the growth of streaming services and telco providers, enabling them to expand and provide the distinctive requirements of customers worldwide,” said Rohit Jain, managing director, Lionsgate for South Asia and Networks–Emerging Markets Asia.

In a fireside chat with Cathy Yap-Yang, FVP and head of Communications, PLDT Inc. Jain said Lionsgate Play had the most “fantastic” growth trajectory within the last few years. Over-the-top (OTT) is a means of providing TV and film content over the internet, suiting the requirements of individual customers. India-based Lionsgate Play is a subscription streaming video unit of Starz.

PLDT said that as more people embraced the digital lifestyle in a pandemic setting, demand for video streaming services has grown exponentially. In early 2020, demand for streaming picked up as government-mandated lockdowns around the world kept people at home, increasing the need to secure their entertainment fix through streaming.

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“We are now present in about 56 countries and still counting, with close to 28 million subscribers choosing us,” Jain said. “So clearly our model and our growth is sort of validated and, for us, the growth in emerging markets and Asia, starting from India, has been very interesting.”

Mobile data consumption

He observed that it’s a very different region when compared to the rest, particularly the United States and North America. The expanse of languages and the nuances of content are very different, distribution is very fragmented and multilayered compared to other parts of the world. Most of these markets in Asia are mobile-first which makes them quite a fascinating market.

In the case of the Philippines, PLDT and its wireless unit Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) have partnerships with OTT services like Netflix and Viu to bring content to Filipinos, driving mobile data consumption. Smart’s Signature SIM-Only Plans are now exclusively bundled with a Netflix Mobile Plan subscription while its GIGA K-Video allows Smart prepaid subscribers to enjoy ad-free streaming and unlimited downloads of K-dramas via the Viu Premium video streaming platform.

Collaboration is key

Jain said collaborations can expand the market which is continuously growing not only because of the pandemic but also because more and more companies are coming up with great content. That is in addition to new devices — Smart TV and smartphones — that are designed with outstanding video streaming qualities.

Collaboration among stakeholders benefits the market and the players, as well.

“I think what is most critical that is going to increasingly apply worldwide is how to collaborate with similar services, with services within the value chain so that we can meet more of the consumers’ requirements in a single stop,” Jain said. “The requirements might be data, social, content, digital, or e-wallet. Can I collaborate sort of a higher share of his requirements? And in the process, can I do this more cost-efficiently? I think the world is going to collaborate more and more to make it happen more smoothly and you have to put the consumer at the center and see how we can collaborate much more efficiently.”

On differentiating their content with the multitude of other content creators, Jain pointed out that they see the world as a sort of three-tiered structure: on the first level are the global platforms which he called the large streaming pipes “our almost replacement for the large traditional broadcasters — these are your Netflix, Disney, and large streaming services which basically cater to the entire family.

Premium content

The second-level players are Starz and a bunch of other platforms which basically are always catering with mass premium content but to very specific audiences.

“Our audiences worldwide are young and mature adults, typically the 20+ years old audience,” Jain said. “That sort of makes us a little complementary to the large networks, with young adults in the house, it becomes an interesting add-on. Then you see the third level which comprises the niche player, niche content, local players, so in that sense, I think we’re very happy that it played out for us so far. We are about very premium content but we are about playing for certain types of audiences.”

“We’ve been very excited about what we’ve seen in the last three months,” Jain said referring to Lionsgate’s expansion in Indonesia. “We just went live last week with Telkomsel and we expect more partners to come. We are launching in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sometime in April.”