If you were born in the ‘70s and ‘80s, you might still remember traditional TV channels like RTM and TV3. Those were once the sole source of home entertainment for most families in Malaysia.
The 1990s saw the emergence of satellite pay-TV, which has since evolved to provide a steadily growing array of options. Today, binge-worthy series including Korean dramas and original content shows from all around the world have taken our home entertainment by storm through streaming platforms.
A decade ago, we could not have imagined having access to the variety of TV shows and movies we enjoy today. The ubiquity of borderless entertainment now has many of us watching our favourite shows on the train, catching a football match on our phones in a mamak shop, and also as the most used tool by parents in keeping their kids quiet during a meal. Today, borderless entertainment is a central fixture in all of our daily lives.
MAJOR TRENDS THAT ARE CHANGING THE HOME ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
Technological innovations have proved to be critical enablers at this time and access to fast internet has never been this easy. In fact, a whopping 89.6% of the Malaysian population already has at least one form of internet access (either through mobile data or home broadband connections). This large chunk of the population also happens to be connected to the third most powerful fixed broadband connection in Southeast Asia. On average, Malaysians enjoy fixed broadband download speeds of 90.88 Mbps, and with the 5G rollout heading our way very soon, internet performances will reach even higher levels.
Alongside access to high speed internet, hardware such as smart TVs, computers and smartphones are also becoming much more affordable to own, with Malaysia being one of the countries offering the cheapest pricing on tech gadgets!
Consumer consumption patterns are also continuing to evolve rapidly. With over-the-internet or over the top (OTT) platforms, we can now access video content at home or on the go wherever there is internet access. Television is no longer the sole option, with streaming platforms opening up worlds of exceptional experience for us!
In the past, linear TV delivered content at fixed schedules through a limited number of channels. Now, OTT platforms have turned over control to consumers. As a result, consumers decide how we want to spend our time without missing out on our favourite shows. This need for flexibility does not merely impact the home entertainment industry, but it has become a pervasive trait across almost all facets of a consumers life. For instance, a gig worker employs the same flexibility by having the freedom to choose which days to work or relax.
Living in the digital age means that consumers demands have evolved to “wanting what I want when I want it” or what content professionals call curating hyper-personalisation. In the context of home entertainment, streaming platforms deliver these hyper-personalised experiences by providing specific recommendations based on a users’ digital footprints through big data analytics and algorithms. It delivers the now familiar experience of logging onto your account, seeing a platform recommendation of a show that is exactly to your interests, and immediately pressing play. Not only that, all episodes of that show are available! You can rewind, pause, fast forward whenever you want. You are finally the true master of the remote control.
This is the unique, individualised experience that drives customer loyalty and even has the ability to introduce new consumption habits. The concept of ‘binge-watching’ was solidified by Netflix's coupling of hyper-specific recommendations with unlimited availability of desired content. Ultimately, personalisation is the secret sauce for streaming services, driving better engagement and loyalty over time.
Another noteworthy trend that has shifted the home entertainment landscape is in serving increasingly niche markets, with platforms geared specifically towards serving otaku & anime fans, Tollywood action, cult-film enthusiasts or regional viewers. Among Western streamers, niche streaming services such as BET Plus and Cinemax are pulling in new subscribers twice as quickly as major services. There is no shortage of niche streaming services in Asia Pacific (APAC) too, such as Hong Kong’s OTT provider Viu which delivers exclusively Asian content, and South Korea’s live video streaming service, V Live, which allows Asian celebrities to broadcast live videos and chats with fans.
The long-tail theory is the hypothesis behind the strategy, where a platform introduces non-mainstream content to acquire a new audience base. OTT platforms can easily achieve an outstanding revenue margin from small markets by leveraging their extensive distribution channels and seamless onboarding process. In addition, the content library/portfolio diversification will attract a larger community to join the streaming platform, establishing market dominance in no time.
The transformation of home entertainment consumption has led to streaming giants such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime dominating much of the world’s audiences. Large-scale vernacular players like iQiyi from China and Simply South from India have also captured the bulk of localised content delivery to regional audiences.
One of Malaysia’s defining characteristics is its multiracial and multilingual population. Most Malaysians speak at least two primary languages - Malay, Mandarin, Tamil or English, and that does not include local dialects from the respective ethnic groups. There is also the common Malaysian reality of having a multi-generational family living under the same roof. The transformation of home entertainment services often fail to cater to the personal preferences of every member of the household – from the elderly grandparents who still watch the news on TV1, to the grandchildren who exclusively consume media through their phones and laptops.
In creating a Malaysian-centric streaming platform, there must be a diverse library of content that matches the interests of an entire Malaysian household and can deliver their preferred combination of content. In creating this ideal package, unifi TV has partnered with various OTT partners comprising of a mix of local, regional and global streaming providers, but has not sacrificed delivering linear TV channels in the offering either. For example, unifi TV’s Ultimate Pack comprises of 70+ linear channels and access to 4 well-known streaming apps at an affordable price.
The choice to join forces with a diverse range of partners such as TVBAnywhere+, WeTV, Zee5, Simply South and Disney+ Hotstar, while maintaining the classic linear TV channels such as TV1 and TV2, is driven by our understanding of our fellow Malaysian families and to cater to the diversity in consumption interests and usage patterns that exist under one roof.
In delivering content, devices shouldn’t act as a barrier for consumers to enjoy home entertainment. To elevate user experiences , unifi TV has introduced a fully-converged solution across multiple devices. A subscriber can simply shift between devices without searching or replaying the content they had watched earlier.
We believe consumers should have the choice to select and pay for the home entertainment they want. Our vision has always been to make unifi TV an affordable streaming platform that all Malaysians can access. Other than the existing four packages with selected channels, consumers have the option of “pay-as-you-use”. Avid sports lovers, for example, can subscribe to a single sports channel without being burdened with other irrelevant channels.
We also foresee the continuous evolution of home entertainment and are keen to take the transformation even further. We are already seeing examples of industry players who are adding gaming into their portfolio of services to expand their subscriber communities or engage with their existing subscribers at new touchpoints. In keeping our platform Malaysia-centric, we decided to bring our culture-crossing love for karaoke into the mix, by including online karaoke in the offering. By breaking the mold and adding more features catering to local interests, unifi TV aims to be the one-stop-shop for every Malaysian’s entertainment interests.
Over these recent years, we have witnessed the transition of the home entertainment industry. The new normal, such as periodic lockdowns and increased remote or hybrid working arrangements, has shaped new entertainment behaviours. Streaming services are undoubtedly here to stay.
With unifi TV, we want to bring the biggest variety of quality entertainment to Malaysia – delivered in a model that allows the users to pay for only what they want, not the high priced bundles of irrelevant content with the one channel that they want as per the main content provider today.
With the improvement of internet accessibility and latency, and the affordability of digital devices, the hyper-personalisation of home entertainment is central to our daily lives, with OTT (over-the-internet) platforms like Netflix and Disney+ Hotstar driving this ubiquity. This concept allows platforms to cater to niche communities and specific target audiences, evolving the home entertainment experience from previous fixed schedule programmes.
TM's unifi TV seeks to provide an exceptional home entertainment experience through an all-encompassing streaming avenue that caters to Malaysians from all walks of life.