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Media Madness (w/ Vivek Couto)

by Steve Stine

This week I’m in conversation with Vivek Couto, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Media Partners Asia, a market research and consulting firm catering to the telecom, media and entertainment industry. According to Vivek, total minutes spent viewing online video in Southeast Asia jumped 60% in the first quarter of the year. Most of that new viewership occurred via smartphones, which suggests that video streaming is a private affair. Gone are the days when families circled up around the TV set to watch their favorite drama or gameshow.

That’s a problem for content providers and advertisers who rely on programming reach. While programming choice is great for consumers, it makes the economics of the media industry ever more difficult.

Even before the Covid crises, pay-TV operators were feeling the pinch. Billions of dollars have been deployed by licensed operators from Singapore to Seoul. They’ve spent handsomely on fiber optics networks, satellite links, and customer care and billing services just to keep their customers happy.

Then along came the disrupters, those so-called over-the-top or OTT providers that charge a low monthly fee for all the streaming video you can consume. You know the ones I’m talkig about: Netflix, Hulu, HBO-Now. Add to these a new tier of regional or single-market providers, and the market is flush in quick and cheap subscription choices.

How the industry is struggling to adjust is the subject of my conversation.