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PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s streaming services are still confident on the business outlook due to their unique models and growing number of local users despite the grim state of affairs among their international counterparts, including Netflix’s loss of subscribers and drop in share price, CNN+ shuttering weeks after its start, and Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros which have taken a hit.

According to iQiyi Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei country manager Dinesh Ratnam (pix) who oversees the growth and overall development of local operations, the iQiyi freemium model gives it an edge in the business.

“iQiyi has been operating on the freemium model since day one of our international business and in Malaysia,” he told SunBiz.

It offers both subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) and advertising-based video-on-demand models to allow flexibility for the audience to choose how much to pay for watching shows on a streaming platform.

“We believe the freemium model can truly put our audience at the centre, giving the full control back to their hands.

“Currently, our members pay the full subscription price to enjoy the shows without ads disruption while other users can opt for viewing some ads in exchange for free shows on our platform.”

Dinesh said the dual model has been successful in growing iQiyi into the number one freemium over-the-top (OTT) platform in Malaysia in terms of growth of monthly active users and overall app downloads in FY21 to 10 million.

Meanwhile, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd is working to become the number one streaming service aggregator in Malaysia with Astro Go, Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix, TVBAnywhere+, HBO Go and iQiyi now available on its platform, with plans to onboard six more in FY23.

An Astro spokesperson said these complement its local vernacular and regional Asian line-up, in addition to its global sports offerings ranging from the English Premier League to Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

“Customers on ultra boxes can seamlessly switch between local popular hits on Astro and content from Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix, all without ever needing to leave their Astro interface.

“In addition, customers can bundle our new, simplified TV packs with streaming apps, as well as with our new Astro Fibre (broadband), providing convenience and value.”

A recent Accenture survey found that 60% of consumers globally find the process of navigating different streaming services frustrating, with about a third of respondents looking to spend less on independent SVOD subscriptions.

Astro’s long list of OTT players knocking on its doors is addressing the “rabbit-hole” issue with aggregation, according to a research report by RHB. The findings resonate well with Astro’s OTT aggregation model, as it removes the complexity of searching for relevant content across platforms, it said.

Bigo Live vice president Mike Ong said Malaysia sees a growing and vibrant community of users and broadcasters and it is positive about the growth prospect of live streaming in the market.

Ong said the live streaming industry will continue to grow not only in Malaysia but globally as well. Factors that will lead to the growth include growing interest in the creator economy, increased digitalisation across populations, and the growing appeal of live e-commerce, online social gatherings and gaming, he explained.

“Livestreaming offers a new way to broadcast memorable life moments and experiences, showcase passion and talents, and connect with the global community in real-time. It is a virtual community where users can band together to form ‘families’, create online communities, and lend support as they grow in strength.”

Ong said the optimistism is also due in part to its efforts that resonate with the local communities.

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