Thursday 30 May 2024
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This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on July 31, 2017 - August 6, 2017

IT is learnt that global content provider Fox Networks Group will be launching its new on-demand video streaming service Fox+ in Malaysia soon. When asked about it, Prakash Ramchandani, senior vice-president of SVOD Digital Fox+, says, “We are launching this across Southeast Asia. Malaysia is a strong market for us; it is high on our priority list... we are looking to launch in the market very soon.”

He believes the time is right to launch the product in the region.

“Today, it is about customised entertainment and giving consumers content at their own convenience. Given that everything is moving to the internet space, it makes absolute sense for us to embrace new technology and to provide consumers with more methods to consume content. We are looking at various business models for the service,” he says, adding, however, that the company is unable to share the specifics just yet.

When asked to comment on the development, media analysts say it is a long-term game.

“Whether or not consumers here take to the service depends on the content and pricing. To get eyeballs in Malaysia, you need local content. Over-the-top (OTT) is not an easy game to play,” says an analyst with a local bank.

Fox+ was launched in the Philippines in March and more recently across the Causeway. Singaporean subscribers can access Fox+ through Singtel for now, but given that it is a streaming service, industry observers point out that it can go it alone. News reports note that it is not confirmed whether Fox+ will eventually function as a standalone service without tying up with any partners.

When asked if that would be case in Malaysia or if the group would continue to work with its partners here, Prakash says Fox has a great relationship with them.

“We have been in the market with them for so many years, and we respect that. Where Fox+ is concerned, we will work out the best possible model for us, our customers and partners.”

Currently, Fox’s content — including Fox Sports, Fox Movies and National Geographic — is aired through pay-TV operator Astro and Telekom Malaysia’s Hypp TV.

According to Prakash, Fox sees the streaming service as a potential revenue generator and one that complements the pay-TV operators.

“One can’t conclude which is better, to be a standalone model or to work with partners. We will be complementing the pay-TV business and at the same time, providing consumers with options to enjoy great entertainment. So, there is a healthy pay-TV system out there and alongside that, consumers will be able to watch content backed by seamless user experience. We have to be ready for that future and, more importantly, apply our existing learning,” he says.

The company, he adds, is looking at convenient content consumption.

“We made the product in such a way that it allows users to get the experience. It is adaptive and streams high-quality  high-definition content, both offline and online. The sign-up process will be simple and we will make the content available across 10 devices, including mobile, tablet and laptop, and also lean-back devices. Apart from content that we are proud about, this is our opportunity to focus on the experience.”

As for the total investment pumped into the new initiative, Prakash says it requires “substantial funding” and is a “global investment” by Fox but would not reveal the exact figure. “The stakes are high ... we have not left any stone unturned.”

But is Fox late to the game?

Global video streaming service provider Netflix launched in Malaysia early last year while iFlix turns two this year.

Local media groups have been busy in the space as well. Media Prima Bhd launched the first local OTT streaming service in Malaysia called tonton in August 2010.  As at May,  tonton had a base of 6.8 million users.

In 2012, pay-TV group Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd unveiled its Astro Go app, which allows users to access its content on demand on mobile devices. As at April 30,  it had 1.2 million registered users.

Star Media Group, meanwhile, launched, an all-Asian video-on-demand service last November.

Prakash says while there may have been other players in the video streaming space before Fox, its ferentiator in the competitive business is that it has its own content. “We are not new to the game. Our content is ours and it is original. It is segmented for Asia, so the app is not just about taking content but it will also be well curated, focusing on every market. Thus, localisation will be in the mix. There is also the possibility of us not just showing the latest day and date content but also going back to the past seasons.

“The world is moving that way. Fox+ is essentially an app but it is a multi-genre product and includes a variety of content — movies, Hollywood series, live sports, Chinese content and documentaries. We have over 11,000 hours of programming.”



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