This section examines the market situation of Pay TV and OTT TV, service formats, technologies, revenue-generating formats, and market and service trends. After that, it discusses the cooperation between OTT TV providers, Telcos, Pay TV providers and Broadcasters, as well as analysis of their impact in many aspects such as competition with other platforms (DTT, Cable and Satellite), service fee and its impact on consumers. The last section touches on governing laws that may be relevant to OTT TV in Thailand, such as Computer Crime Act B.E. 2007 and Patent Act B.E. 2015, to name a few. The section analyses and studies topics related to international studies from the previous section and compares the study results of these two sections.
Thailand’s Pay TV Market and Service Analysis
Pay TV Providers in Thailand must obtain a licence of non-spectrum usage for radio or television broadcasting. In Thailand, these providers are divided into three types according to their service formats225,as follows:
Pay TV Provider via Satellite Television
Pay TV Provider via Cable Television
Pay TV Provider via both Satellite and Cable Television
The above providers must obtain non-spectrum usage radio or television broadcasting. There are three main components namely Pay TV Service Provider, Network Provider, and User (Residential and Business or Service Operator) in all of the three service formats above. In most cases, Service Provider gathers broadcasting contents, broadcasting schedule and channels, prior to sending to Network Provider for broadcasting.
The Network Provider will broadcast the content from Pay TV Service Provider to users. However, the User must have a signal receptor for cable network or satellite network or IPTV installed at their end and use the service in accordance with the conditions stated with the Pay TV Service Provider. Depending on the service format, there may be a monthly fee as well.
As of May 2016, there are 369 licensed Pay TV Service Providers 226 in Thailand’s retail market, 354 (95.93%) of which provide service via cable network, 13 (3.52%) of which provide service via satellite, and 2 (0.55%) of which provide service via both channels.
It was found that during 2015–2016, 27 Cable Pay TV Service Providers terminated or were in the process of terminating their service.227 This is a 7.08% decrease compared to the same period in the previous year (August 2015).228 Similarly, satellite Pay TV service providers also decreased by 23.53% from 17 Providers to 13 Providers.229 As for Pay TV service providers who provide service via both cable and satellite network, there were two of them, namely True Visions and CTH, but as of June 2016, True Visions is the only service provider in this category, since CTH officially terminated their service in August 2016,230 as shown in Figure 6-1.
Figure 6-1: Pay TV Service Providers in Thailand as of August 2016
The termination of service by Pay TV providers in those three categories was caused by similar reasons such as technological changes, high cost of content production, slimmer revenue margin, to name a few.
Additionally, it is also possible to categorise the 369 Pay TV Providers by how they charge their customers. In this regard, 358 (97.01%) of them231 charge their customers monthly in accordance with the packages they provide with different numbers of channels their users chose to register. They may or may not charge an installation fee, and there are only 1–2 players whose total market share makes up more than 80% of the total market. Secondly, there are 11 (2.99%) licensed Pay TV Providers who do not charge a monthly fee.232 These providers are likely to charge a receiver installation fee that already includes their profit margin. They emphasise a variety of channels, which are mostly Free-to-Air type of channels. Lastly, as of now, there is no Pay TV Provider that charges based on Pay-Per-View or pay to view certain channels during certain periods of time (such as live broadcast), which could be another way to generate additional revenue for Pay TV Providers in both categories.
Competition among Pay TV Providers is very tight due to the effect of Must-Carry regulation and the sequencing of channel numbers. The Providers have to assign their channels in the most efficient way while also facing a bottleneck problem in providing service. This is because users who live in vertical residences such as condominiums, townhouses, or apartments are sometimes limited to only one provider, since that provider might have an agreement with the condominium or apartment manager to provide cable wire to the whole complex, and therefore, the residents in such buildings are left with no choice but to subscribe to that provider. Mostly, providers such as True Visions of True Corp Group also provide additional services apart from Pay TV, such as Internet and mobile phone service.233
Apart from this, there is also competition between Pay TV Providers and providers on other platforms such as digital TV and OTT. The rise of digital TV in 2014 gave users an additional means to watch 28 channels on free TV, and also many OTT TV Providers entered the market in 2013, both with or without monthly fees. This report will discuss in detail OTT TV Providers in the next section.
Thailand’s OTT TV Market and Service Analysis
The market situation of OTT TV in Thailand is still in its initial stage. This is because basic infrastructure such as Internet, especially home Internet, is still somewhat limited, with low connection speed, and still high service fee compared with mobile Internet. Additionally, mobile Internet has recently started playing a more important role in consumer behaviour after the official launch of 3G service in 2013 and a decrease in smartphones and their peripherals. The most notable change in user behaviour are the viewing hours via mobile application234, be it streaming235 which is a technology that provides access to music, video, and animated information via Internet on a real-time basis. There is no need for a user to download all data before watching, but they can watch the content along with the data-processing procedure.
Due to consumer habits and technological advances, OTT TV Providers in Thailand are very varied. Some of which are television providers, some are in related industries, and some are just newcomers. We have gathered and analysed the market and service situation of OTT TV Providers by categorising them according to type of provider like in the previous section. However, each segment also has different competition, service format, and revenue generation. Some notable providers are as follows:
Independent OTT TV Providers
New OTT Providers in Thailand have different organisational structures, types of service, and revenue-generating methods. Some are local Tech Start-Ups, some are Tech Start-Ups from overseas, and some are well-known OTT TV Providers. Notable Providers are as follows:
Hollywood HD is one of the top OTT TV Providers in Thailand.236 It was developed by Fly Digital Media. This team is the same team of Plenchit Media Co., Ltd., who created the AIS Mobile English Premier League system. Hollywood HD started providing service in the first quarter of 2014.237 The company collects monthly fees from users, and they are known for good movie categorisation. Hollywood HD provides Thai movies more than foreign movies, and they are focused on providing unlimited content. Viewers can watch new movies by using points which come from continuing their unlimited package, or they can also purchase by cash in case of insufficient points.
According to the information we have collected, Hollywood HD OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows:
- Emphasis on popular movies or awarded movies in Hollywood. They are the only provider in Thailand that provides movies from five major film studios – Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Paramount and NBC Universal. The company is also the only provider in Asia that provides Disney On Demand service, and therefore, their viewers can watch rare movies or IMDb movies. Hollywood HD also provides Chinese, Korean and Thai movies on demand.
- Uses Adaptive Bitrate technology238 to transfer data so viewers can adjust the movie resolution according to their Internet connection speed. It is also possible to watch HD movies with 2MB Internet speed. This technology also allows viewers to continue watching from where they left off last time, as well as watch from a portable device, computer or television. Up to three devices can be connected.
- Monthly fee of 199 Baht is charged, payable by E-Banking, ATM, or various payment services. Hollywood HD also sells prepaid cards at well-known retailers such as B2S, Boomerang Mangpong, Tops Supermarket, and video-rental stores with the Hollywood HD logo all over the country.
Primetime is a new OTT TV Provider. They are focused on new Hollywood movies shown within the past 2–3 months and television series from overseas. They officially launched their service in Thailand on 26 February 2015239. Primetime actually is a spin-off of Hollywood HD, and they are licensed with six major film studios namely Walt Disney, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, MBC Universal, and Sony Pictures. The company also provides unlimited viewing of classic movies as well as popular American television series for their members. Some series can be viewed at the same time as the US, and thus it really covers what viewers want the most.
According to the information we have collected, Primetime OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows:
- The first provider to use DTS Surround 5.1 in their movie streaming. Users can listen to surround sound system even via normal headphones. Their SmartTV application allows maximum 4K streaming either via computer browser or portable devices on iOS and Android platforms. It also supports Apple TV and Chromecast which enable Smart Device to Airplay the content to television in real time. Primetime will also support ZipTV in the future.
Primetime provides the following packages for their users:
Primetime also provides Primetime box service which is an Android-based receiver. They collect a one-time payment of 3,900 THB. No monthly fee is required, but viewers can pay for additional patented movies or cartoons.
Viewers can pay via payment services at DNA, iStudio by ComSeven, and Banana IT, to name a few. Additionally, in 2015, the company also partnered with other players such as DTAC, Samsung smartphone dealers, and K Bank240, to create more service channels.
DOONEE is another new OTT TV Provider who offers packages for viewing HD Hollywood movies via Internet on a Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) basis. Viewers can watch popular TV series unlimitedly anytime and anywhere through various devices such as computer, smartphone, tablet, iPod, iPad, iPhone (iOS/Android) as well as smart TV. In Thailand, DOONEE provides licensed Hollywood series, and they have the highest number of series for viewers to enjoy compared to other providers. The company officially launched their service on 27 January 2015241 , and they operate in Thailand only.
According to the data we have collected, DOONEE OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows:
DOONEE distinguishes itself by providing the highest number of Hollywood series in Thailand.242 There are up to 1,500 episodes of HD-quality series, and they provide the newest series within 12 hours after they are aired overseas.
Viewers can watch unlimitedly according to their preferences anytime. The company also provides Smart Player system, which allows users to pause-and-play to continue watching where they left off the last time, so they do not have to start watching from the beginning.
DOONEE provides Multi-Bitrate function, which allows viewers to adjust the Internet connection and Wi-Fi speed for uninterrupted viewing experience.
DOONEE offers two packages: 1) Monthly Package at 150 THB/month and 2) Annual Package at 1,500 THB/year. They also use various payment channels such as credit card, payment services, ATM, Bank, iBanking, TermOne card, money transfer and PayPal.
MONOMaxxx243 is an online movie application (originally launched in 2011 as Doonung)244 under Mono Flim Co., Ltd. in Mono Group. The company has various revenue schemes245 such as daily, monthly, timely and TermOne card. MONOMaxxx is interested in live-streaming events in the future, and they have also been purchasing more licences of overseas movies, Thai movies, series and sports. 246
MONOMaxxx provides various contents, especially Asia series (Action-Supernatural) and cartoons. The company also offers awarded movies and out-of-trend movies247248 with Thai soundtrack and subtitles. MONOMaxxx also uses an auto bitrates system, so viewers can view the content uninterruptedly and from up to three devices at the same time.
Service charge starts from 129 THB/month with unlimited viewing. Service charge varies according to length of application starting from 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months.
iflix is a new OTT TV Provider in Thailand. It is one of the subsidiaries of Catcha Group that provides various services such as Ensogo, One2Car, and Think of Living in Thailand. iflix has been successfully providing online movie and series services in the Philippines and Malaysia with as many as 10,000 users within only two months of launch.249 Thailand is the third country where iflix officially launched their service, in August 2015250, with a vision of growing in the ASEAN region via affordable pricing, reliable system and varied content for viewers to choose from.
According to the data we have collected, iflix OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows:
iflix signed contracts with 35 world-class studios such as Fox, Disney, Warner Bros., MGM, BBC, Starz, Redbull TV and KBS, to name a few. They offer variety shows and series that easily meet the demand of Thai viewers. iflix successfully attracts various users by providing popular movies and series from America, Korea, China, as well as cartoons for kids, which take up to 20% of their total contents.251 iflix also tailor their contents in each country in accordance with the viewing habits of their subscribers.
iflix’s unique feature is that they are more regional than other competitors in the market. This enables them to provide more offers to the customers at a cheaper price. In the near future, iflix plans to do original production as well.
- iflix charges 100 THB/month with unlimited viewing and unlimited content access without additional charge. Subscribers can view from five different devices and up to two devices at the same time. The company also provides 30-day free trial and after that, they charge via credit card, money transfer, or payment via counter.
Netflix is the number 1 OTT TV Provider in the US and also the largest OTT TV Provider in the world. Netflix provides service in 190 countries252 worldwide and officially
launched in Thailand on 6 January 2016.253 The company is the pioneer in licensed video streaming on the Internet where viewers pay a monthly service fee in exchange for on-demand movie viewing anywhere and anytime.
According to the data we have collected, Netflix’s OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows;
Netflix puts emphasis on picture quality and continuity in viewing experience. Viewers need to install the Netflix application that comes with 4K or Blu-ray player to watch 4K or UHD movies. Netflix also uses Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround in their service for superb audio quality.
Netflix provides three packages: 1) 280 THB/month for movies and series with SD quality on one device 2) 350 THB/month for movies and series with HD quality on two devices and 3) 420 THB/month254 for movies and series with UHD quality on four devices. All of which can be subscribed to via credit/debit card or PayPal.
Initially, Netflix did not provide Thai content, and the variety of movies and series was still limited in Thailand compared to other countries. They introduced Thai subtitles and soundtracks for certain movies255 later on, in the second quarter of 2016.
HOOD is the largest OTT TV Provider in Asia. The company was created by three world-class companies namely SingTel, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures, unlike other online movie service providers. HOOQ was first launched in the Philippines, and Thailand was the second country where they officially launched their service, on 27 April 2015.256 The company has the highest number of movies and series in Asia, totalling up to 10,000 options to choose from.257
According to the information we have collected, HOOQ’s OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows:
The HOOQ website interface design is totally different from other providers. They use a blog design which puts emphasis on large images as a main component. HOOQ cooperates with large alliance such as Advance Info Service (AIS) to bring both Thai and foreign movies and series on demand to AIS PLAYBOX (as well as AIS Play), which is a Set-Top Box based on the Android operating system through AIS Fibre network. Customers of AIS Fibre network also get one month HOOQ free trial.
- HOOQ charges 119 THB/month. One account can run on five devices and simultaneously on two devices, and it is possible to download content to watch offline as well.258 Subscribers can pay via credit/debit card.
LINE TV is another new OTT TV Provider that offers soap operas, variety shows, and special shows from content producers. At present, there are over 33 million LINE users in Thailand, which makes the country a large and important market.259 LINE Thailand has been continuously developing new services and content presentations in response to the lifestyle of LINE users. LINE TV officially launched on 6 February 2014, and Thailand is the first country in the world that provides LINE TV service.260
LINE TV is an application that provides a variety of entertainment contents under the “Free Fresh Fast” concept. They cooperate with several content producers in Thailand such as GMM Grammy Plc. Co., Ltd., The One Enterprise Co., Ltd., MCOT Plc. Co., Ltd., and Woody World Co., Ltd., to name a few. LINE TV users can view content online before others and can also share content with their friends via LINE application. Since launching their service one year ago, they have been enjoying continuously increasing views. In the third quarter this year, their views grew as much as 118% from the previous quarter. More than 60% of LINE TV viewers are around 18–22 years old, and they watch LINE TV 1.5 hours/day on average.261
According to the information we have collected, LINE TV’s OTT TV’s service can be concluded as follows;
- LINE TV offers a different service from YouTube, in which they do not allow users to upload content by themselves. The contents in LINE TV come from cooperation with content producers. The company distinguishes itself by providing exclusive contents that can only be viewed via LINE TV. They collaborate with famous content producers in Thailand such as GMM, Workpoint, Vithita, Thai Rath TV, True Vision and True Music, as well as freelance producers such as SuaRongHai and Parry Pie, to create exclusive LINE TV content. The company also provides special content from Korea such as behind-the-scenes of popular Korean stars, variety shows featuring these stars, as well as many music videos.
- LINE TV provides appealing contents categorised into: 1) Recommended Videos – trending videos with the highest number of views 2) Drama – a variety of dramas that can be sorted by number of viewers, latest, or most liked 3) Entertainment – variety shows and cartoons 4) Music – music shows and music videos. LINE TV runs advertisement videos before playing content since this is one of the ways the company generates revenue.
- Content providers can advertise in video format via LINE TV. They can create more viewers to watch their advertisement to promote their products and services, creating more awareness quickly. There are two kinds of advertisements, namely: 1) Skip View – viewers can choose to watch the entire advertisement or skip it entirely. Length of advertisement is no longer than 60 seconds, and they charge an advertising fee based on cost per thousand (CPM) 2) Non-Skip View – viewers have to watch the entire advertisement before watching the video, since unlike the Skip View, there is no Skip Ad for viewers to click on. LINE TV also charges based on CPM, and maximum length of advertisement must be within 30 seconds only. 262
Apart from the above, LINE TV users can use this service without any fees. They can use the same LINE account to log on to LINE TV on multiple devices, and the same device can also be used with another LINE account.