POINT OF VIU: Where are OTTs heading

As the original OTT (Over-The-Top) in Malaysia with tonton, we met Johan Ishak, CEO of Media Prima Television Networks (MPTN) about their collaboration with Viu, the first time a regional OTT brand has partnered with Malaysia’s largest TV broadcaster on content for same day airing.

Kingsley Warner, GM-Director for Viu Malaysia, says, “There is a common misconception that OTTs are here to challenge the TV industry. But we see real synergies between linear TV and digital audiences in Malaysia. Our partnership allows Media Prima to benefit from Viu bringing international formats and premium Malay dramas to their audiences.”

We ask Johan to elaborate…

How do you see partnerships with OTT players like Viu working towards your goals? Since Viu is an OTT highly focused on local content.   
This partnership is about making sense from two perspectives, they are: audience reach for free-to-air (FTA) TV advertisement revenue play and targeting segment for subscription video on demand (SVOD) revenue play. The former goes for the mass audience and the latter for niche audience. That way Media Prima TV can earn advertising revenue from a production cost investment that is far more superior and Viu can benefit from a widespread FTA reach that will drive viewers onto Viu on SVOD basis.

On regional budgets: Has partnering with Viu to produce original content with higher production values been something that works towards your goals?   
This is the first of its kind where we partner with a competitor OTT such as Viu even though we have our own OTT. For us, it is easy, we uplift restrictions for greater good. If the content works better on other platforms than ours, so be it, we will use that better avenue. It is also about the best of two scenarios on the tv side: profit margin from our own program cost investment of a particular slot vs profit margin from a combined effort with Viu in the program for the same slot. So it is a trial and error game, case on case basis. So far, we have just started and it is gaining traction on viewership. The advertisement revenue side should follow suit.

What sort of OTT business models do you think will thrive in the current ecosystem?  
This depends on the type of content. Content that is mass generally caters for lower income earners who do not have the propensity to subscribe. Thus, you should go for Advertising Video on Demand (AVOD) which is free and what tonton.com.my has become today. For more premium and urban programs that cater to higher income brackets, a SVOD can work provided that a sweet spot for pricing is achieved.

On the marketing front, has working with Viu helped you with your marketing agenda?
It works well for both sides. On the tv side it certainly capitalises the power of mass audience and the inclusivity of Viu as a content partner and opens the eyes of our non-traditional viewers, i.e. the more urban and less mass. This is a unique position of both ‘divide and conquer’ as well as ‘combine and conquer’.
Do you see benefits with Viu for your content to travel?
Yes we do. Having a strong regional player not only gives us a wider footprint in the industry, it also enhances the depth of content programming to produce what we traditionally won’t do. Our usual content will reside on tonton.com.my as well as our entertainment portal xtra.com.my as an extension of reach; whereas partnership such as with Viu will ride on regional and urban based consumers.

You see a future with your production working on content that’s OTT first with Viu? 
Definitely. Our sister company, Primeworks Studios is negotiating with many parties to arrive at mutually benefiting co-productions that includes partners from other OTT players like Viu as well as production houses, broadcasters and more. As mentioned, we keep the door open and democratising both content and revenue sources can only mean more opportunities.

In democratising content, will we see more of MPTN’s library along with new shows on OTTs like Viu? 
We had just democratised tonton.com.my in August 2018 in conjunction with the ‘Merdeka’ month. What it means is that all of our tv content that we own will be made available first on tv and live on tonton.com.my and xtra.com.my as powered by Daily Motion. And then, on those same portals as well as on You Tube, the catch up window will resume in a matter of hours after the first tv transmission. The next step is to play with the window of opportunity within the catch up phase. If revenues from distributing to other OTTs or broadcasters or other buyers make better sense, then it is worth switching off those free platforms for a specified time frame. Go to where the money makes better sense.

Viu is the first regional premium OTT brand offering premium videos for free in 16 markets with 20 million monthly active users, supplemented by brand advertising and video on demand. This is being coupled with same day airing from September onwards on Media Prima’s NTV7, with Viu Originals ‘Salon’, ’Jibril’ and ‘The Bridge’.

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