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Pay TV players ‘will continue to flourish’

Sep 07. 2016
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DESPITE the challenge of terrestrial-based free digital television, observers still believe the pay-TV business will remain lucrative, thanks mainly to the strong penetration of satellite TV receivers as well as growing numbers of wireless broadband Inter

To survive in the intense competition, industry leaders agree that pay-TV operators should integrate their business with new media platforms such as over-the-top service, Internet broadband and satellite-based free-to-air TV channels as well as repackaging.

Sompan Charumillinda, executive vice chairman of TrueVisions Group and chairman of the board at the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA), told a forum yesterday that most Thais were still watching TV programmes, including free-to-air content, through satellite receivers.

However, changes in the media ecosystem and related regulations had forced some cable/satellite-based TV broadcasters and pay-TV operators into a difficult situation.

“After the launch of digital terrestrial TV in 2014, there were about 400 remaining cable and satellite TV licensees, down from more than 1,000 in the previous three to four years,” Sompan said at the “Thailand in View” forum held by the CASBAA in Bangkok.

Vivek Couto, executive director of Media Partners Asia, forecast that the Thai pay-TV business would see a 5-per-cent increase in advertising revenue in 2021 compared with this year. When combining subscription revenue with advertising earnings, a compound annual growth rate of 2.5 per cent was expected over the next five years.

He said that during the same period, pay-TV penetration would increase slightly from 30 per cent to 31 per cent, while average revenue per user (ARPU) would rise from about US$12 (Bt415) to $15.

Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya, chief content and media officer at True Corporation, said TrueVisions Group was testing new ways to draw new subscribers. The broadcast of English Premier League soccer matches was an example. The company offers a Bt29 monthly package for mobile users to enjoy live matches via their smartphones.

TrueVisions, which is the |country’s largest pay-TV operator, has also offered low-tier packages to mass consumers and used an up-selling strategy to entice |existing customers to upgrade to higher-end packages, Birathon said.

“TrueVisions aims to bundle its pay-TV service with other platforms such as mobile, fixed broadband and over-the-top service,” he said.

Impressive feedback

Vorasit Lee, chief executive officer of PSI Holdings, the country’s largest provider of satellite-TV equipment, acknowledged that supplying receivers and related products would not be enough to maintain the company’s growth. In May, PSI introduced over-the-top boxes, which enable customers to extend the broadcasting service provided by PSI to the new cutting-edge boxes.

The feedback was quite impressive in the first month.

On behalf of the largest cable-TV operator in Bangkok, Wichit Aur-Areevorakul, CEO of Chareon Charoen Cable TV, said the transition from analog to digital technology was costly for small local TV operators. He saw this as an opportunity to share his digital cable network with those operators in return for providing broadband Internet to their customers.

“We now have a total of 500,000 customers by this means, up from 300,000 subscribers a couple of years ago. The company aims to have more than 600,000 by next year,” he said.

Viriya Thamruengthong, president of the Thailand Cable TV Association, said that to help its members in the same way, the association had set a policy to share necessary costs in terms of infrastructure development and acquiring foreign content.

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