The Philippine Star
Online streaming giants battle for Asian audiences
Acclaimed director David Michod’s epic “The King” was one of four major Netflix productions screened at Asia’s largest film festival this week, underlining how streaming services are increasingly challenging Hollywood and traditional media for the attention of artists – and viewers.
Asia is seen as an important part of the global streaming industry’s growth plan. In conjunction with the main event, Busan International Film Festival also hosted its first Asia Contents Awards reflecting how the market is rapidly changing.
“They gave us the resources and the freedom to make this properly,” Michod said of working with Netflix.
“I like that I don’t feel I am sacrificing myself at the altar of the box office,” he added.
So called over-the-top (OTT) platforms or videoon-demand (VOD) – online services that viewers can access directly such as Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hulu and Apple TV – are booming.
Hollywood stars including Julia Roberts, Rooney Mara, Brad Pitt and Will Smith, have embraced streaming as audiences grow.
“If people want to see (films) on the big screen they can, but my TV at home is amazing,” Michod explained.
Disney and Apple are set to launch their platforms across Asia Pacific this year, capitalizing on growing mobile usage and rapidly improving access to faster speed internet.
Vivek Couto, executive director at research group Media Partners Asia, believes the region is “crucial” to the plans of global streaming platforms as there are “massive prospects to go after.”
Online video revenue – predominantly from film and TV subscriptions as well as advertising – in the region will increase by 24 percent in 2019, making it worth $27 billion annually, according to a report by Couto’s firm.
That figure is predicted to hit $50 billion by 2024.
China accounts for around 59 percent of revenue for the region in 2019, according to the report – but its strict regulations make access difficult for outside players with local platforms iQIYI, Tencent Video and Youku dominating.
Google-owned YouTube earns the largest share of revenues in Asia, but Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney’s Indian platform Hotstar have all experienced significant growth in the past few years.
“Local content has historically been the preserve of large incumbent TV networks in markets such as India, Japan and Korea but as content and consumption moves online the availability and creation of premium local content becomes important,” said Couto.