The Philippine Star

On­line stream­ing gi­ants bat­tle for Asian au­di­ences

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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.

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