Content is king and customers constantly demand aces-up, so Hong Kong media giant PCCW is moving faster in the IPTV space, literally. Their latest plan: the launch of a new platform – Viu OTT – which offers popular Korean dramas subtitled in Chinese and available just eight hours after their initial airing on Korean television.
Janice Lee, managing director of PCCW Media Group, sees the plan as a growth strategy for the firm and an effective counterattack against piracy. "We believe that consumers will pay for content they want," she said in a recent interview in Hong Kong, "but it must be available in a timely fashion."
She said that consumers are used to "borderless content, primarily from the Internet" while Korean content needs to be localized for the Hong Kong market, which means the addition of Traditional Chinese subtitles.
"We have teams here in Hong Kong who watch the live feed and make the eight-hour turnaround not only with subtitles, but also the metadata for the show – which in this case is mostly information on actors and other similar programs," she said.
Getting over on OTT
The firm has plans to expand this concept beyond Hong Kong and Chinese subtitling via Vuclip — a Silicon Valley company now majority-owned by PCCW Media, according to a March 2015 story in Marketing Interactive.
"The agreement comes after Vuclip announced a partnership with Indonesian telecommunications giant Indosat ... in January to offer mobile on-demand services [and] will help PCCW Media expedite the roll-out of over-the-top (OTT) video services in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond," wrote Marketing Interactive.
Lee said that by leveraging Vuclip, PCCW would roll out the subtitled programming in other Asian markets including Singapore, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia over the next six months. "Of course that means subtitling in Bahasa Indonesian, Bahasa Malaysian, and English," she said. "Subtitles will be viewer-selectable, meaning our customers will be able to choose their target language."
Coping with the video-buffer
"We're fortunate in Hong Kong and Singapore," said Lee, "as the infrastructure is excellent and high-definition is commonplace." But lower-bandwidth regions are a different matter. Lee said PCCW's solution to that set of problems is Vuclip technology that detects what phone a customer is using, analyzes their bandwidth, and re-encodes video on the fly...to stop the dreaded video-buffering caused by inadequate bandwidth.
According to Wikipedia, "Vuclip's patent-pending Dynamic Adaptive Transcoding technology enables the simultaneous transcoding or optimization of the content to each specific device and dynamically adapts the video stream to the constantly varying bandwidth of carrier and Wi-Fi networks. Dynamic Adaptive Transcoding creates a quality experience across device and network types. Among its features: offline viewing, which allows consumers to download videos and watch later without a network connection."
Currently, Asia accounts for over 48% of world Internet population with the majority accessing through mobile devices, said a statement by PCCW. A recent Horowitz Research study on OTT found that nearly half (48%) of millennials spend more than 50% of their viewing time streaming.
"We expect significant interest from users who will become premium subscribers as well as advertisers keen to reach the millennial generation,” said Lee.