Line TV closes citing intense competition, rising costs

Line TV closes citing intense competition, rising costs

Line announced in October last year to make content that can rival global over-the-top players. (Line Corporation photo)
Line announced in October last year to make content that can rival global over-the-top players. (Line Corporation photo)

Line Thailand closed down its operation of Line TV after eight years amid intense competition of streaming services and the high cost of content licences.

"Regarding the change of business direction, Line Thailand would like to inform our beloved media partner that Line TV service will be discontinued on December 31, 2021," a media statement said.

"Throughout December, Line TV will continue to provide users special content, including popular programmes that have won the highest votes in the past.

"Thus, all management and every team member would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude towards your excellent support and trust during these past years. Your generous and kind collaboration that helped establish Line TV as one of Thailand's top online content platforms will always be remembered," the statement added.

In 2019, Line TV had 40 million users in Thailand, becoming a pioneer of Y series in the country.

"The closure implies the intense competition of streaming in Thailand for a share on customers' eyeballs from various digital platforms," Pawat Ruangdejworachai, president of Media Intelligence (MI), told the Bangkok Post.

At present, there are a number of streaming platforms in the country, but there is no dominant player as this segment is very fragmented.

Meanwhile, there are also indirect competitors or other kinds of online activities that compete for eyeballs, such as YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.

Moreover, the licence cost of content is high as well as investment for original content which will be exclusive to one platform.

"Line policy is not to keep a business that shows no profit, and Line TV is a separate unit as it uses a separate app which is not a synergy to Line's core business," said Mr Pawat.

Digital advertising spending is anticipated to account for almost a third or 32% of the total advertising market in Thailand in 2022, growing to 27 billion baht from the share of 31% at 23 billion baht in 2021.

Surin Krittayaphongphun, president for TV business at BEC World, the operator of Channel 3, said Line TV's closure is an indication of the intense competition in the streaming market in which content is key. Operators need to have a unique value proposition and content strategy.

Suthikorn Kingkaew, project leader at Thammasat University Research and Consultancy Institute, added that OTT players who create platform and content but cannot invest enough budget and earn income will not sustain their businesses.

The large successful OTT players like YouTube and Facebook who allow others to generate content have more sustainability as they don't need to invest but still can provide various contents.

The closure of Line TV also showed that pioneers who build the strong foundation of content, such as YouTube and Facebook, will always have an advantage over the newcomers.

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