There is a new way to watch TV, and it doesn’t even require a television.
OVER The Top (OTT) TV is absolutely redefining the term “watching television”. Gone are the days when users actually needed an actual television to watch TV series or movies, and the big bulky box can now be replaced with smartphones, tablets or laptops.
What is OTT anyway? In broadcasting at least, OTT initially meant the delivery of film and TV content via the Internet, without the involvement of a traditional cable or satellite pay-TV services for the distribution of the content. A popular worldwide OTT service is Netflix, available in more than 130 countries, which made its way to our shores early this year. It offers three plans that ranges from RM33 to RM51 monthly.
But even before Netflix hit this part of the world, major content providers had already jumped on the bandwagon to provide OTT services, such as Astro On The Go and Tonton, on top of their regular direct-to-home services in Malaysia.
So now it is perhaps more accurate to say that OTT content is not just available via set-top boxes but also any device with a broadband Internet connection – and make it a fast connection too. That’s where telcos swoop in to have their share of the pie.
Telekom Malaysia (TM), which started the Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service HyppTV, became more accessible with its portable HyppTV Everywhere, and currently collaborates with OTT content providers like iflix and Viu to provide a more comprehensive coverage.
Why the inclusion of OTT? Because it is the popular way to go and the smartest option to serve nomadic viewers who wish to play content at their leisure.
Globally, people love TV content and watch over a billion hours of linear TV each day. With changing lifestyles and new technologies, we increasingly find that people don’t love being restricted to consuming content at a certain time and only on certain devices.
“Over-the-top services like Netflix delivers content online and give consumers control of their watching experience. Internet TV enables consumers to enjoy a wider selection of great content, they can watch whenever and wherever they want, across a range of devices,” said Netflix Asia communications vice-president Jessica Lee in an e-mail interview.
This freedom is precisely the reason why Arvindh Yuvaraj, 29, was attracted to OTT – that and the fact that he could watch Daredevil on Netflix and finally catch up with the rest of the world.
“It started with Daredevil, but then I got hooked on many other shows on Netflix. I mostly watch the shows on my phone and laptop, though when at home I connect it to the television. It has become a habit to watch something on Netflix daily, even if it’s for as little as 30 minutes,” said Arvindh, a producer at a local radio station.
After 18 months of providing entertainment content, iflix Malaysia chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani says that Malaysians’ acceptance of OTT services is very heartening.
“What looks most encouraging is the recurrent usage. At over two hours of viewing per day, per active iflix subscriber, this is now a significant part of their daily television entertainment consumption. This has doubled since last year,” he said in an e-mail interview.
“We find Millennials more eager to view TV content via mobile devices. They constitute over 70% of our user base. Some members of older generations prefer to view TV on traditional TV sets in the living room. Currently, iflix content can be viewed by either connecting the TV set to a computer or mobile device using an HDMI cable, or using devices like Chromecast.
“But soon, we’ll be rolling out iflix apps tailored for existing set-top boxes, smart TVs and other devices that connect to a big screen television.”
He added that the single biggest selling point of OTT is mobility. iflix is also available for offline viewing on Android and iOS devices.
“Our Download-and-Watch Offline feature makes it even more versatile to enable viewing without an Internet connection – for example while on a flight, on a treadmill, or on the LRT ride home. Our telco partners in Malaysia have also launched various attractive data packages for streaming, making the choice to stream and download iflix shows on mobile networks easier,” he added.
TM Unifi and Streamyx subscribers get a one-year free iflix subscription, while Maxis offers a 30-day free trial of iflix, ErosNow, Viu and Hopster, and a 60-day free trial for Tonton.
Free trials is exactly how kindergarten teacher Diyana Hussein, 35, ended up opening three OTT accounts – one each with iflix, Netflix and Viu.
“I got attached to certain TV series on the different platforms and couldn’t bear the idea of not following up with the characters’ development. So, now I allocate RM100 every month just to keep up with the shows.
“But every time I think about quitting, they keep on adding new content and I just can’t seem to give up any of them,” she said.
Netflix’s US$5bil (RM21bil) budget for 2016 was used on programming rights that includes more than 30 new Netflix original series like Narcos, Luke Cage, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Jessica Jones and Stranger Things.
“There’s still much to learn and discover when it comes to a dynamic market like Malaysia but our focus is to keep improving on what we offer consumers – that means how we keep adding content with more shows that Malaysians love, and delivering a great entertainment experience,” said Lee.
She added that delivering a great Netflix experience is just as important as creating great content, and US$800mil (RM3.4bil) is dedicated to Netflix’s technology and development in 2016.
“We’ve also spent several years figuring out how to optimise bandwidth usage while delivering the same or better picture quality. This means our videos use less bandwidth, particularly important in countries with connectivity challenges and on mobile networks.”
OTT may still be at its infancy stage in Malaysia but it can be safely said that it is fast becoming one of the top ways Malaysians get their content fix. One thing’s for sure – streaming services are here to stay and can only get bigger from here.
Sourced from : The Star