Yesterday, regional SVOD play Iflix became the 10th legal offering to launch in Thailand, joining a crowded field that includes paid platforms from Thailand’s three major telcos, local contenders such as Doonee, Hollywood HD and Primetime, as well as regional rival Hooq.
Thais shopping around for a subscription video service are spoilt for choice.
Artima Suraphongchai, country manager for Iflix Thailand, is unfazed, confident that regional scale helps build a broader content portfolio that consumers can watch for a cheaper price than many rivals.
“Right now, early adopters have tried everything already,” she tells Media Business Asia, speaking on the sidelines of the MPA Thailand TV and Video Industry Forum, where the new service was announced.
Iflix Thailand, free for the first 30 days, is priced at Bt100/month, or Bt1,000/year for people willing to commit to 12 months, making it the second cheapest in Thailand.
Artima also has a “reasonable” budget to secure rights to local content to accelerate critical mass, seeking to build up domestic content to fill 20-30% of Iflix’s Thai library next year.
Together with group CEO Mark Britt, she has set a daunting goal of signing up a few hundred thousand paying subs this year, and a few million in 2016.
Short-term priorities include a preferred partnership with a local telco to offer iFlix as a bundled service, after the company signed similar deals in Malaysia (with Digi) and the Philippines (with PLDT), as well as multiple tie-ups with local outlets to give prospective subscribers other ways to pay.
Thailand is unlikely to see more than 10 SVOD contenders, Artima speculates, with signs that some early forays, with smaller content portfolios, are starting to lose steam.
Thailand is Iflix’s third territory after launching in Malaysia and the Philippines in the last 10 weeks.
Other Southeast Asian markets could come on stream in Q4, including Indonesia and Vietnam, with expansion outside the region also on the cards.
“There’s a big pressure to recoup a lot of the investment to get to scale, Artima says. “But that’s what we do.”
In the short term, SVOD uptake in Thailand is likely to focus on fixed broadband connections, numbered at around 5 million, or 23% of Thai homes at the end of last year, according to estimates from Media Partners Asia (MPA).
Mobile broadband tends to cater to short-form video consumption at present, but longer viewing should take off once 4G, currently mired in spectrum debates, starts to roll out.