Global TV channels, platforms pull out of Vietnam

By Luu Quy   November 12, 2023 | 07:49 pm PT
Global TV channels, platforms pull out of Vietnam
A person uses a pay TV service in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy
Several foreign television channels and platforms have exited Vietnam after changing their business models or failing to meet new regulations, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications.

In early November Amazon’s Prime Video OTT television platform pulled out after a seven-year run in the country.

Since October National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Baby TV, and Mezzo Live channels have stopped broadcasting in some markets, including Vietnam.

Paramount Network and Baby First have also exited the Vietnamese market.

In 2021 a total of 14 foreign TV channels stopped broadcasting in Vietnam.

One of the reasons for the TV channels pulling out is the business shift by their owners, according to Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Thanh Lam.

Most of the channels that have stopped broadcasting are owned by U.S. company Disney, which has made a dramatic change by launching the Disney+ platform similar to Netflix.

"They think the future lies not in traditional television, but in on-demand video services," Lam explained.

"So since launching OTT Disney+, they have a strategy of not continuing with traditional channels, and put everything into the application."

But the company has not brought Disney+ to Vietnam yet.

But even OTT (Over-the-Top) cross-border platforms such as Netflix, Apple, Tencent, Iqiyim and Hunan face challenges in Vietnam.

Le Quang Tu Do, director of the Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information, said these channels and platforms must determine whether their business model in Vietnam is to provide television or movie services.

If they broadcast films, they must comply with the Cinema Law and remove television content, he said.

If they are television, they must complete licensing procedures as decreed by the government early this year, he said.

"After receiving requests from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Information and Communications, Netflix has chosen to offer both movies and pay TV services. The rest have opted for movies and streaming TV shows on OTT platforms."

As for Prime Video, Amazon has determined that "the Vietnamese market is still small" and that "the business model in Vietnam is not really suitable, and so withdrew from the market," he said.

Netflix has submitted an application to set up a business in Vietnam, and it is being considered.

Earlier some foreign players were found not paying taxes or showing prohibited content.

"After the Government issued new regulations that ensure equality between foreign and local services, some foreign businesses chose not to operate in Vietnam anymore," Do said.

As of October the number of pay TV subscribers was 18.7 million, representing an increase of 12.3% from a year earlier, according to the ministry’s report.

Pay TV revenues topped VND7.5 trillion (US$312.5 million) in the first nine months of this year, up 1.4%.

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