Thailand's digital content industry is expected to surpass 30 billion baht in value this year, driven by the rise in demand as users spend more time online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the pre-Covid period, Thailand's digital content industry grew at least 10% a year, with the latest survey showing it was valued at 25 billion baht in 2017," said Krit Na Lamliang, president of the Digital Content Association of Thailand.
"However, it's expected to grow by over 30 billion baht in 2020 despite the pandemic," he said, "as demand for digital content has surged, particularly in entertainment segment, due to the longer time spent online in the new normal."
Mr Krit was speaking yesterday after the launch of the Bangkok International Digital Content Festival, an annual event that runs through Sunday.
Held in an online format this year, the festival features a virtual reality exhibition and online business matching.
Visitors can access the virtual exhibition at this seventh edition of the festival through https://hubs.vrbidc.com.
The event also features online business matching, which is expected to see deals worth 900 million baht this year, up from 400 million baht in 2019.
Additionally, the festival ushers in online seminars through a system supported by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.
The digital content industry plays an important role in driving the country's economy, Mr Krit said, adding that Japan, South Korea and China export digital content as a way to boost economic growth.
For example, Kumamon, one of Japan's popular characters, created US$1.4 billion in economic value for Japan's Kumamoto prefecture. Launched in 1996, Pokemon games have generated more than $95 billion in revenue.
Thai digital content, ranging from characters, games, animation to visual effects and e-learning, can help promote Thai identity and demonstrate Thai people's ability to create content that can boost the country's economic value.
According to Mr Krit, the character business, worth 2 billion baht, has taken a hit from the pandemic, hindering licence sales.
Chatchai Khunpitilak, deputy director of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), which jointly organises the event, said the download of online games surged 20% in the first quarter of this year from the same period last year, citing Kasikorn Research Center.
The country's animation business is expected to grow 5% over the next five years, Mr Chatchai said.
Depa allotted 30 million baht to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, including digital content providers, that are facing liquidity problems.