Mobile broadband will only live up to its promise in growth markets if telcos can dramatically bring down delivery costs, attendees heard at this week’s APOS | Tech Summit, hosted in Hangzhou by Media Partners Asia (MPA).
Philippine telco Globe, for example, frequently downloads 200-300,000 of the most popular YouTube videos by satellite to local caches, to slash streaming costs for its subscribers.
It’s a new experiment, started four to five months ago, that Globe hopes to extend to premium content, as part of broader efforts to drive video consumption on its networks.
Many Filipinos are keen to watch live-streamed NBA games, for example, but can’t afford the data costs.
“The model radically changes,” observed Daniel Horan, senior advisor for Globe’s consumer business, speaking at APOS | Tech.
“This is the sort of stuff we all need to consider. For emerging markets, if you don’t reduce cost and drive efficiency, all you will have is piracy,” Horan added.
“People love the content. If they can’t get it in a legitimate way that’s cost effective for them, they will find a way.”
Globe is laying the foundations for its own mobile ecosystem, announcing tie-ups with Netflix, Turner (Cartoon Network), Sports Illustrated and Astro (e-games app EGG) in June this year, to add to existing partnerships with the likes of Disney, Hooq, Spotify and the NBA.
Wary of the mobile app world, where consumers are overwhelmed with choice, the focus is on tentpole brands and exclusive partnerships.
“This allows us to invest a lot of effort in the marketing of these brands, as well to help transform the market,” Horan explained.
A lifestyle positioning
The company is also embedding itself deeper into the ecosystem, with a new production arm – Globe Studios, currently producing six online video series plus two theatrical releases – as well as an events business, Globe Live, which also can be used to source video content.
It’s all part of a bigger push to change the way consumers think about Globe, and the way they engage with the company.
Also in the pipeline: an OTT TV service to support the company’s fixed broadband rollout, and a low-cost set-top box, priced low enough to drive uptake (the cheapest will be under US$30) with an interface similarly showcasing mobile entertainment through selected apps.
Globe is targeting 50-100,000 installs per month.
The box is more than an additional route to consumers, but another possible lever of business transformation.
For Globe, content is a means to an end, Horan said.
“The thought process, again for me around this, is we have to think differently from our perspective about what the purpose of content is,” he told APOS | Tech attendees.
“I am now looking how to embed content into set-top boxes with advertising and other business models, that allow us to either extract data from the customers, so we can understand them more and use that data to monetize or introduce ads.”