Thai pay-TV business will see continued growth, says expert
This year, Thailand's cable and satellite TV industry will be challenged by new rules, new players and advanced technology. John Medeiros, chief policy officer at Hong Kong-based CASBAA, a non-profit trade organisation for the promotion of multi-channel television via cable, satellite, broadband and wireless video networks, representing some 130 Asia-focused corporations, tells The Nation that there is still room to grow in the near future despite intense competition. Watchiranont Thongtep reports."Thailand is a very interesting and dynamic market in the way it is developing, and this offers many opportunities to related players," John Medeiros said.
On behalf of CASBAA, Medeiros is very optimistic about cable and satellite TV business in this country because Thailand is one of Southeast Asia's free-media markets. Hence, Thais enjoy freedom of speech while TV broadcasters enjoy benefits in terms of business.
Last year, pay-TV business alone witnessed a surge in revenue of about 53 per cent to Bt5.24 billion, according to CASBAA.
He also described Thailand as a unique market in the region as it has a large base of satellite-TV viewers. More than half of the households in the Kingdom watch programmes via satellite receivers for high-quality reception and content.
No other countries in the region rely on satellite TV as much as Thailand.
Asked about how the development of digital terrestrial TV might affect cable and satellite TV operators, he said it would depend on what the government and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission wanted to do. Advanced technology has already allowed more than 50 per cent of Thais to access high-quality content via cable and satellite platforms.
"Though the NBTC's direction is to promote digital terrestrial TV broadcasting in the country, we also urge free and fair competition among various TV operators," he said.
Apart from digital terrestrial television, newcomers in pay TV, namely Cable Thai Holdings (CTH), GMM Z and RS, will intensify the competition in the broadcasting industry this year. The head of CASBAA believes that this level of competition will boost subscriptions, resulting in more advertising revenue for the pay-TV business.
He said it was quite a surprise when CTH secured such premium content as the English Premier League for three seasons and came up with an ambitious plan. But he said it was too early to say whether this would shake up the industry.
Having the rights to broadcast EPL soccer matches, it might need satellite TV partners to help expand its base from the current 3.5 million subscribers to its old cable TV network, he said.
Another big challenge for pay TV in the region including Thailand is TV Anywhere. This is a service that allows customers to access content via multiple platforms such as TV screens, personal computers, tablets and smart phones. However, the availability of this service depends on Internet broadband services in each country and production of content compatible with different platforms.
He said developed places such as Hong Kong and Singapore would be the most ready to launch such a service. However, CASBAA hopes that a dynamic market like Thailand would have such an experience within the next five years.
CASBAA will hold a seminar for the Thai broadcasting industry in May. Under collaboration with the Advertising Association of Thailand, the Media Agency Association of Thailand, the Thailand Cable TV Association, the Satellite Television Association (Thailand) and |related parties, the event will |feature the development of |cable and satellite TV in the Kingdom.