Asia continues to be one of the major targets of the global streaming industry. Home to billions of people, more and more streaming services are churning out film after film with Asian viewers in mind. Media Partners Asia executive director at research group Vivek Cuoto said as much in an interview with Channel News Asia. “We believe that the region (Asia) is crucial to the plans of global streaming platforms as there are massive prospects to go after,” Cuoto said.
Netflix, one of the major streaming services in the world, is already making great strides in the region, providing an alternative to Hollywood and traditional media. From producing movies starring Hollywood heavyweights such as Brad Pitt, Will Smith, and Julia Roberts to supporting films or shows with an all-Asian cast, Netflix is poised to dominate the streaming industry in Asia. Whether it dethrones Google-owned YouTube from its current top spot or not remains to be seen, however. While the two go at it, the rest of the pie is shared among other notable streaming services including Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV, HBO, and Disney.
Whichever way the cookie crumbles, one fact remains in absolute certainty: the trend is in the up and up with most projections showing close to a 30 to 40 percent bump in the next four years translating to revenues in the billions, US$50 billion to be exact, by 2024.
It should be noted that while China is the biggest market in the region (60% of total subscribers in recent estimates), streaming services are looking for opportunities elsewhere. This is primarily due to the country’s strict regulations and preference for its home-grown platforms Youku, iQIYI, and Tencent Video to name some.
This does not mean that international streaming services have given up on the market just yet but they are looking into smaller, more open markets like India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Including locally-produced films and producing shows featuring local artists as part of their content. “Local content has historically been the preserve of large incumbent TV networks in markets but as content and consumption moves online the availability and creation of premium local content becomes important,” said Couto in the same interview. HBO, for example, carries Malaysia’s The Garden of Evening Mists. Netflix has close to 20 on-going Asian productions. Amazon Prime also features myriad Asian titles in its film and documentary roster. This is good news for the Asian film industry which either has limited or stereotypical representation in conventional media.
While the race of streaming industry dominance in the region is well underway, another potential race is slowly taking form, that is, the medium on which people can gain access to content. With millions of mobile device users in Asia, streaming services are now scrambling to make content more mobile-friendly. That could well be the veritable upper hand as the race for Asian streaming dominance continues.