Big Interview

Q&A: Janice Lee, managing director, PCCW Media Group

Janice Lee, managing director of PCCW Media Group, talks to Capacity about the launch of its latest OTT video service, Viu, and its future development strategy.

What prompted the launch of Viu OTT?

OTT is an important part of our strategic development in view of the notable seismic shift in consumer lifestyle and viewing habits, especially with the Millennial Generation who are tech savvy, platform agnostic, budget conscious and demand flexible access to quality entertainment. As such we have been looking to develop a product like Viu OTT for some time.

Following our investment earlier in 2015 in Vuclip, we wanted to fully leverage its technology, vast subscriber base of over eight million and extensive footprint across 10 countries to make a big stride forward with Viu. 

We intend to leverage our experience in OTT, our advanced adaptive streaming technology by Vuclip which allows us to overcome any infrastructure hurdle in emerging markets’ bandwidth limitation, as well as our strong content providers and telco network to provide the best legal entertainment content to discerning consumers on our OTT platform. 

Viu OTT is responding to the consumer’s viewing habits. This market was largely taken up by illegal downloading and now we are offering an innovative global video platform to allow users to access premium content on the mobile legally. The $290 billion global television market is being disrupted by six billion mobile devices. By delivering direct to users engaging legal content, Viu OTT video service will be rolled out in the region in the coming six months.


Where is the service initially available and where will you expand it to?

The service was only recently launched in Hong Kong offering Hong Kong users free instant access on multi platforms and devices to exclusive popular content. We will progressively roll out across Asia and into markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, India and Indonesia over the next six months. 

In each of the markets where we will launch our service, there will be localisation of content to ensure it is relevant to the local audience. These include among others, local language sub-titling and other curated content produced for that market.  

One challenge we faced during the roll-out was infrastructure. Obviously Asia is not a homogenous market and has a varying degree of bandwidth and broadband uptake.

However, we are well-positioned to manage and overcome this hurdle as we have our advanced, patented, adaptive streaming technology supported by Vuclip which ensures stable smooth streaming of content in emerging markets where bandwidth is an issue.


How do you expect TV streaming to grow over the next five years?

Noting the paradigm shift in the millennial generation’s lifestyle and viewing habits, the OTT market is going to grow exponentially. The figures speak for themselves and we are only at the beginning.

Globally OTT pay TV services are forecast by IHS to have the highest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of any pay TV service. There were 494 million active OTT video viewers in Asia-Pacific in 2014, according to Media Partners Asia analysts. We will also see a big increase in users of feature phones who will turn to more sophisticated mobile phones and other devices, in particular in developing countries, and whose viewing habits will also grow. 


How do you plan to develop the Viu OTT service in line with market trends?

We will extend our service to our existing footprint as well as to new markets like Singapore, Malaysia, India and Indonesia. The order of roll-out will depend on the size of the market, consumer demand, the infrastructure, content delivery network and alliance we forge with our partners.

At the moment we adopt a freemium model - free to watch with ad support and premium services available in the future. This is very versatile model as the ‘free’ aspect would encourage trial, get us penetration and once the users are engaged, the uptake in the markets will hike and users would choose to upgrade to access premium features and functions. 

We will definitely offer our customers the best value for money deal in the market. Viu offers users instant access on multi-platforms and devices to premium global and local product content. 

Users enjoy absolute freedom and flexibility in viewing the programs as they can readily stream and watch their favourite programs on their mobile devices, phones and tablets as well as computers, and laptops. We are confident the market is there, and with a great product like Viu OTT, we answer the demand of the consumers.