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Netflix faces new regional rival in Asia

Mon 11 Jan 2016

PCCW Viu - Janice Lee

Following the recent announcement that Netflix has launched 18 new Asian markets, a domestic rival has emerged in Singapore from Hong Kong’s leading media group, PCCW.

Targeting fans of Korean drama and variety shows, Viu (pronounced ‘view’) promises to deliver an over-the-top multi-screen streaming service of the region’s latest programmes. The content will be subtitled in both English and Chinese, and will be available as soon as eight hours after the Korean TV broadcast – much faster than competitors such as SoftBank’s DramaFever, which streams Korean shows to U.S. audiences.

Viu has penned pan-regional deals with four of Korea’s top networks, SBS, KBS, MBC and CJ E&M. These partnerships guarantee PCCW an exclusive window and rights to 95% of the channels’ latest programming. The service currently hosts around 10,000 hours of content, which will expand as the service’s library continues to grow.

“Korean content travels very well across the Asian market. We’re planning on adding Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese content, and PCCW also produces our own content and we’ll definitely be bringing it to Viu as well,” said Janice Lee, Viu’s managing director.

The Viu app allows users to bookmark and download shows to watch offline. Bookmarks and viewing progress features are synchronised across devices.

While the basic service is free, a premium tier is expected to launch in partnership with SingTel, which will offer ‘distinctive differences.’ According to Goh Seow Eng, managing director of Home, Consumer Singapore at SingTel, pricing has not been confirmed but will be ‘a very low’ monthly subscription. The service will be made available to all SingTel customers – “All you have to do is subscribe to be a post-paid mobile customer, a broadband customer, or a TV customer,” he explained.

Viu was first launched in Hong Kong in October last year. By December 2015, the new app had processed over 500,000 downloads. PCCW also plans to set up the service in Malaysia. Indonesia and India have been listed as perspective markets.

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