Netflix-Competitor HOOQ to Launch a Video Streaming Service in India
Singtel, owner of Australian Telecom giant Optus, is planning to beat Netflix to push video streaming in Asia with its new partners, Sony Pictures’s AXN network and Warner Brothers.
The new service which is called HOOQ, will work with Warner Brothers and AXN to buy, sell, market and produce films and TV products through an over-the-top (also called OTT, and sends TV and movies over any internet connection) service across a range of markets.
It will offer Hollywood movies and U.S. TV shows alongside domestic content from India, China, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Korea and Japan. In total, HOOQ will begin with an initial catalog of over 10,000 shows and movies.
HOOQ will be rolled out aggressively in the Singtel Group’s Asian footprint. First in the line is Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Thailand, in the first quarter of 2015.
The company at the launch said that the service won’t be limited to credit card holders. Singtel said it will use its “billing capabilities” in countries where credit card ownership remains low.
This will be the first video streaming service in Asia. Its biggest competitor, obviously, is Netflix, but its expansion into Asia has been slow. Netflix ventured into Australia and New Zealand last year, but there’s no word on when it’ll hit the other markets.
Piracy and lack of awareness are often cited as major barriers for licensed streaming services in Asia. With peer-to-peer file sharing as well as VPN services at any user’s fingertips, people can easily access the latest shows as they are released. Even as local versions of Netflix become available, it sometimes fails to draw in audiences due to the limited range of programs caused by licensing issues.