29 July 2020
PROSPECTS GALORE IN THAILAND AS THAIS VALIDATE HIGH CONTENT DEMAND
By Lulu M
One of the more insightful webinars this year, ATF’s PLUGGED-iN SERiES, focused on Thai buyers, made a significant impression as the session’s unassuming conversation gave way to candid exchanges of genuine understanding.
From recent research by Omdia, Thailand’s subscription numbers for Pay TV operators dropped by 1.5% last year, as its OTT subscriptions surged 36.4% over the same period. However, despite the surge, ARPU has remained stagnant due to pricing structure and strong competition among the OTT players in the country.
In addition, new tax laws (VAT) on foreign digital platforms will continue to shape the landscape. For local OTT players like Joe Suteestarpon of Mediaplex International (Doonee), pricing is still manageable with non-exclusives, while they continue to remain cautious in avoiding pricing wars, amidst attempts to acquire what is needed. Apart from this, content will still be explored by prerequisites to match individual branding.
Echoing Joe, Rachel Wu of True Digital noted that platforms have different strengths and strategies, but as with any industry, demand and supply can push up the price. Add factors like marketing etc, it could lead to a short-term partnership if prices become unsustainable. To this end, Rachel emphasized that an interdependent and symbiotic relationship accentuating the maintenance of agility and adaptability is key. “I really appreciate it when partners come in and understand the need for flexibility,” noted Rachel, centring on possible monetization models; be it hybrid, TVOD, SVOD, or AVOD.
Viu Thailand’s Adam Yukol reminded that the Thai market is still young with lots of space to grow. And as Korean content become ubiquitous, Viu Thailand has evolved to be more open to new things to beat the competition. This includes leaving a little space for R&D, where they can attempt to gain new market share, instead of sticking to their same Korean-Thai formula all the time.
Arthit Promprasit of Motion Content Group noted that hiring someone on the ground brings real value, especially when they already have local connections.
In general, a few resonating points accentuate a good start – where doing your homework to understand the landscape is essential; where local knowledge is super important, and collaborating on monetization models to see what works and what doesn’t is something real buyers would respond to; where dubbing can sometimes mean greater success, especially when enjoyment is more important than accuracy; and where complicated rights management can hinder rather than facilitate a potential alliance.
Attendees at this session make up a whopping 70% of sellers with finished content. Fortunately, this matches what buyers want in Thailand, albeit with essential tweaks aforementioned. With 37% of sellers pushing drama and 28% looking to sell kids’ animation, it’s a match made in content heaven, although categories within the genres can make or break a deal.
Representation of attendee genres in hand at the ATF PLUGGED-iN SERiES 2020 – Thai Buyers Speak
There are a wide range of opportunities and challenges facing operators across the country, noted Omdia. However, an offering of compelling content at a competitive price point that delivers on the promise of anytime-anywhere TV and video will capture these opportunities, overcome the challenges, and ultimately find success by delivering a customer experience that consumers are willing to pay for.
For the full recording of ATF’s PLUGGED-iN SERiES 2020 – Thai Buyers Speak,
“80% prefer locally dubbed to OV. As well, Thais still love drama series. Don’t sell your content first, but understand what Thai platforms are offering their audiences, and go from there.”
— Joe Suteestarpon, CEO, Mediaplex International Co., Ltd
““We’re definitely very open to all sorts of content. Chinese content resonates well, and is a prominent trend.”
— Rachel Wu, , Head, Acquisitions & Partnerships, True Digital Group
“I wouldn’t buy anything that’s not fun enough, regardless of language. You have to know your audience. For example, Viu is very female-centric – I would buy if the price is right, and if the content serves the audience well. Of course, the price can grow with the market size."
— Adam C. Yukol, Program Director, Viu Thailand
"Future success could lie in eSports. As well, what is lacking are cooking shows that offer a different side; not just competition. In the end, success is knowing your potential buyers, their strategy, and offering varied business models."
— Arthit Promprasit, Director – Thailand, Motion Content Group