Subscription streaming market poised to double
Thailand's subscription-based internet video market is set to more than double in 2017, thanks to intense competition from global and regional companies.
After the early stages of adoption in the past three years, the local paid video-on-demand streaming market in Thailand is gaining more momentum this year, said Phiroon Phihakendr, chief executive of Fly Digital Media, the first Thai streaming video-on-demand firm, which operates under the HollywoodTV brand.
"The number of subscription-based users in Thailand is expected to reach 1 million in 2017, up from 450,000 last year, which was valued at 5 billion baht," he said.
The success of a streaming service is largely dependent on content, user experience and service availability on a variety of devices.
Mr Phiroon said the arrival of the US-based video streaming company Netflix in Thailand is expected to stimulate the market this year.
Fly Digital Media has 150,000 subscribers, and most of its customers are over the age of 30.
"We aim to have 2 million subscribers in Thailand within five years," Mr Phiroon said.
Scott Mirer, vice-president for device partner ecosystem at Netflix Inc, said Thailand is one of the company's top-tier countries in terms of the number of service downloads and watch time.
Netflix has 100 million subscribers globally, half of which are based outside the US.
Jessica Lee, vice-president for communications in Asia-Pacific at Netflix, said the company is investing US$6 billion (208 billion baht) to develop content through creating its own programmes, co-production with prospective partners and purchase under licensing contracts to bring in more quality content.
Netflix also plans to double the amount of Asian content within the next two years, as part of its overseas expansion.
Netflix is also spending $1 billion on marketing globally plus another $1 billion for research and development this year, she said.
Ms Lee also said Netflix had found that one-third of Thai audiences watch Netflix on the big screen as their main device, followed by tablets with 20% and mobile devices at 13%.
There are at least eight streaming video players in Thailand.
Mr Phiroon also urged the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to lower licence fees for video streaming companies. Unlike broadcasting or cable TV markets, video-streaming firms have large investments in content acquisition.
NBTC should not impose an internet licence fee on video streaming firms as they neither own any internet infrastructure nor use any broadcasting frequency, he said.