The Asia Video Industry Association recently hosted its country-focused virtual conference, Vietnam in View, to over 320 international and local speakers and delegates, sharing great optimism in a country that has arguably proven itself as one of the more resilient economies in Southeast Asia.
The conference opened with a presentation on the State of the TV and Video Industry in Vietnam by Vu Tu Thanh, Consultant, AVIA, and Deputy Regional Managing Director & Representative, US-ASEAN Business Council. Over the last 3 years, Vietnam has seen significant developments with a completion of full digitalisation of its free-to-air (FTA) broadcast infrastructure. Competition was seen to be growing at all levels, between telcos and pay TV operators and between domestic industry and foreign services. Coupled with the fast development of OTT platforms, and with over 26 million television households almost all having access to TV and video, it has become a very promising market for the industry. In terms of revenue share, cable is still dominant, and by far the biggest revenue earner at almost US$300 million in 2020, up 9% from 2019. However, OTT is the biggest winner in terms of both subscriptions and revenue growth. Debate continues about the need for and direction of regulation in the OTT sector, and it was believed that simplicity in licensing and censorship would be key, as well as cross border tax registration and payment.
Nguyen Hanh, President, Q.net, shared similar sentiments during her panel on the Future of Television. Hanh opined that the industry as a whole is converging on streaming as the dominant business model, even though the bulk of revenue is still coming from pay TV, and FTA is very much the leader for local content. And content is what matters at the end of the day, with delivery and device merely being the method by which content is consumed.
John Huddle, Director, Market Development, Asia, SES, also believes that the industry needs to pivot and look at a hybrid service and pay TV operators that innovate will continue to be successful. “There is also room for consolidation and partnerships as a pathway to growth going forward,” added Huddle.
This innovation is certainly key if pay TV platforms are to reinvent themselves to take advantage of this explosive demand for content. Phạm Thanh Phuong, Vice Director of Value-Added Services Center, Viettel Telecom, said that pay TV platforms are competing not only in terms of content, but also infrastructure and technology, to bring about better customer experience.
This use of technology to deliver the best consumer experience with the best content is what drives the strategy for Galaxy Play, shared its Chief Financial Officer, Harini Gopalakrishnan.
“If you deliver the right content with great consumer experience, the users will pay,” said Gopalakrishnan.
Along with this increased consumption of content comes another major challenge in Vietnam, which is the pervasiveness of piracy, with Vietnam ranking #1 or close to it in Asia. Mark Mulready, Vice President – Cyber Services, Irdeto, commented that the piracy ecosystem is thriving and with significantly entrenched piracy trends visible, education is a critical component of any anti-piracy strategy.
However, there has been substantial progress over the last 12 months, added Sean Godfrey, Senior Commercial Solicitor (APAC), Premier League, with nascent site blocking in place having been relatively impactful. Much can also be learnt from other successful strategies in the region such as Indonesia.
Ultimately, while content is king, as operators in the market become more inter-related, there is also a greater sense of mutual responsibility when it comes to taking content risks, with a need to share along the entire spectrum, for both investment and recoupment.
Summing up this sentiment, Celeste Campbell-Pitt, Chief Policy Officer, AVIA, said, “The more we can de-risk a production, the better. Collaboration is key to our industry thriving.”