Internet streaming one up on traditional TV in Vietnam

By Vien Thong   June 12, 2018 | 01:19 am PT
Internet streaming one up on traditional TV in Vietnam
45 percent of surveyed participants from Vietnam's largest cities say they watch videos on demand. Photo by Reuters
Industry insiders say local Over-The-Top service providers should act together instead of against each other.

Vietnam is seeing a trend of people switching from traditional TV to over-the-top (OTT) media services which allow them to watch movies and other shows on the internet.

In a recent survey done by Kantar Media Vietnam, an information and consultancy group, 84 percent of the respondents aged 15-54 said they use the internet every day. In Hanoi, people spend 229 minutes each day on the internet, almost an hour and a half higher than the time for TV, which is only 145 minutes, the survey found.

A significant 45 percent of respondents in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, the central city of Da Nang and southern Can Tho said they watched video on demand (VOD).

Vietnam is one the leading countries in the online video trend, with 90 percent of the respondents saying they watch online videos every week, said market research firm Nielsen.

“People nowadays want to watch what they want, whenever and wherever they want,” said Bui Huy Nam, CEO of state-owned cable TV provider VTVCab, adding that this trend makes the transition from traditional TV to OTT inevitable.

YouTube remains the largest OTT service in the country, with 87.3 percent of respondents in the Kantar Media survey saying they use this website frequently to watch videos online.

Local sites such as [New Movie] and ZingTV rank second and third with 28.9 percent and 26.4 percent respectively, the report said.

With such a large market demand, local OTT providers are adopting different strategies to eke out an advantage in this tight race.

National broadcaster VTVCab is looking to work with internet service providers to provide free content to users, earning revenue from advertisements. The company’s ambition is to create a platform where users can share their own video content.

FPT Play, a cross-platform application which allows users to watch TV shows and movies online, is focusing on improving its content by working with strong media production companies in the country.

While there is strong competition between legal OTT providers, they also need to fight the battle with illegal ones. Illegal content makes up about 95 percent of OTT services in Vietnam, said Ngo Thi Bich Hanh, vice chairwoman of media firm BHD.

“There is an intense competition between OTT firms in the country. It’s a competition between local firms and between them and foreign providers,” Hanh said.

To ensure the success of OTT services in Vietnam, local businesses need to cooperate on a shared platform, said Nguyen Thanh Lam, director of the Department of Radio and Television Communication and Electronic Information. “They should not go alone in this market,” he added.

Echoing Lam, Le Quang Minh, director of the VTV24 News Center, said that working together will keep OTT businesses from “hitting the bottom."

“We want local OTT providers to sit down together to create a sustainable market which is strong enough to compete with the leading video streaming services in the region and in the world instead of racing against each other,” Minh said.

A study by OTT provider Muvi estimates Southeast Asia market revenues reaching $650 million a year in the next three years. On the global scale, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Youtube have a total of 2 billion subscriptions, taking 40 percent of the world’s OTT market share, the study said.

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