SINGAPORE - In the world of television and video, the days of the "off" switch are largely gone. With the rise of smart device ownership, combined with improved and affordable mobile connectivity, consumers are hungrier for online videos and they are spending more time watching them. In a 2014 Nielsen online survey of global digital attitudes, over 76% polled said they enjoy the freedom of being connected anytime, anywhere. However, there is currently limited access to quality entertainment that can be streamed directly to the screen of one's choice. It is either illegal, costly or of inferior quality.
Nevertheless, over-the-top (OTT) is shaping up to be a game changer in the TV industry, and the OTT market is now on the fast track for expansion. The global video-on-demand market will be worth US$45.3 billion by 2018. OTT service providers are starting to cash in on the brimming potential of the market through offering a wide array of video entertainment content at an affordable price to consumers.
Game-changing video-on-demand service
Enter HOOQ, Asia's first premium video-on-demand service. Launched two months ago in the Philippines, it has just entered the Thailand market. A start-up joint venture between SingTel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment, HOOQ's service allows customers to enjoy unlimited online streaming access to over 10,000 movies and television programs, via multiple devices including PCs, smartphones and tablets.
"HOOQ's raison d'etre is to change the way people across Asia view entertainment," said Peter Bithos, CEO, HOOQ. "We are focused on enhancing consumers' digital lives as their partner for in-home and on-the-go entertainment."
Bringing Endless Hours of Entertainment to Asian Consumers
The outlook might be optimistic but the journey is not easy. The rampant digital piracy in Asia, especially in developing markets, is a key challenge in the OTT set-up. Consumers would rather download and stream content for free rather than pay for video services. In addition, the myriad of local languages makes it difficult to provide content that suits everyone.
The gap in infrastructure development across markets in Asia is also an issue. In India and the Philippines, broadband speeds are currently less than half the global average and the average webpage in Thailand takes about 17.4 seconds to load, which makes seamless streaming tricky.
HOOQ is working within the limits of developing infrastructure to ensure quality content is delivered anytime, anywhere to consumers. Through offering the right combination of price point, depth and breadth of content, convenience and ease of access, HOOQ intends to convert digital pirates into paying consumers. Furthermore, by partnering with top local studios to add popular local movies and shows to its catalogue, HOOQ is well-equipped to cater to multilingual consumers.
In places with scanty Internet coverage, an offline viewing option allows users to download videos on devices, saving them from being at the mercy of poor video buffering speeds and intermittent pauses. "Consumers are our start and end point," reaffirmed Bithos. "By placing them at the heart of everything we do, we are able to innovate around their needs, their environments and their lifestyles."
The Way Forward: An Agile Business Model
Communication operators need to recognize that it makes good business sense to embrace OTT. The number of OTT consumers from their subscriber bases is expected to surge in the next decade, and partnering with OTT services to launch third-party video apps on their platforms will drive consumer loyalty and long-term revenue.
Furthermore, operators have the expertise and know-how in billing solutions, customer support skills and access to insights on consumer behavior, making them ideal partners for OTT service providers. HOOQ has plans in the pipeline to support a greater variety of platforms through partnerships with industry players.
"As an agile business, we are able to move fast and seize opportunities to deliver HOOQ to more consumers and adapt to their changing needs," said Bithos. "We are committed to bringing the best of global and local video content at an unbeatable value to our consumers in Asia."
For more insights on how OTT is redefining the telecommunications and broadcast industry, join Peter Bithos, CEO, HOOQ, at BroadcastAsia2015 this June.
 The Cross Platform Report Q2 2014 http://bit.ly/1nFQ60a
 Euromonitor, 2014
BroadcastAsia2015 International Conference / Creative Content Production Conference
Date: 2-5 June 2015
Venue: Level 3, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Opening Hours: 2-4 June 2015: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, 5 June 2015: 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
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Date: 2-5 June 2015
Venue: Level 4 & 5 Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Opening Hours: 2-4 June 2015: 10:30 am - 6:00 pm, 5 June 2015: 10:30 am - 4:00 pm
Admission: Trade professionals only
HOOQ is Asia's first premium video-on-demand service to launch across the region. HOOQ is a start-up joint venture established in January 2015 by Singtel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. HOOQ delivers over 10,000 Hollywood blockbusters and popular local programs to customers anytime, anywhere by enabling them to stream and download their favorite shows on their device or platform of choice. HOOQ currently operates in the Philippines and Thailand with a population footprint of over 160M people. For more information, visit www.hooq.tv.
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