Hooq vs iflix vs Netflix: A Comparison of Subscription Video On-demand (SVOD) Services in Asia

While just 1.47 million homes in Asia had subscription video on-demand service (SVOD) in 2010, it is forecasted that the number will quadruple to 68.83 million homes by 2020, with revenue from SVOD expected to reach USD4.8 billion (Digital TV Research 2015).

The positive outlook may be attributed to the increasing presence of local and global SVOD services available in the region. DemystifyAsia takes a look at three SVOD service providers that currently have a significant presence in the Asia Pacific region.

About Hooq
Hooq is a Singapore-based, over-the-top (OTT) video streaming service for Asia. Launched in January 2015, Hooq is a joint venture startup among Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Singapore-based telecommunications company, Singtel.

With an average subscription fee of just USD3.51 per month (prices vary according to country), Hooq users have an unlimited access to over 10,000 movies and TV shows, including content from its partners Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

What sets Hooq apart from other on-demand video streaming services available in the market is its focus on building up a collection of local Asian video content for its users. Hooq users can thus look forward to a wide selection of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Thai, Filipino and Indian movies and TV shows.

Hooq also provides the ability for users to stream or download (maximum of 5 downloads across registered devices) its content onto a phone, tablet or computer, allowing users to download their favourite movies or TV shows before flying overseas or in anticipation of a poor Internet reception.

The service is currently available in India, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand. Hooq may expand its services in the future to other Asian markets where Singtel Group has a presence.

Market Share
As a new startup in the on-demand video streaming service market, Hooq is still trying to establish itself as a leading provider of on-demand video streaming services in the markets that it is coperating. Its market share in these countries is unknown.

The launch of Hooq in 2015 has seen an injection of USD22 million from the three parties involved in the joint venture. Singtel Group currently holds a 65 percent stake in the company with Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment holding a 17.5 percent stake each.

About iflix
iflix is an over-the-top (OTT) video streaming service founded by the CEO of Catcha Group, Patrick Grove, investment banking firm Evolution Media Capital, and Mark Britt. Dubbed the “Netflix of Asia”, iflix currently partners with more than 60 leading studios and content distributors worldwide, including Warner Bros., Disney, Fox and Media Prima. The company is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The company offers over 20,000 hours of movies and TV series content from the US, UK and other Asian countries, including Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Philippines. iflix also has over 2,000 episodes of kids’ content.

Similar to Hooq, iflix users is able to stream or download (maximum of 10 downloads per device) their content onto a mobile phone, tablet or computer. While Netflix has pioneered the Internet TV business model, iflix aims to focus on delivering high quality content for its users via mobile devices. The company is also planning to produce original content for its platform.

iflix offers a monthly or annual subscription fee for its services with an average subscription fee of USD2.75 per month (prices vary according to country). Its content is currently available only in SD quality, with plans underway to introduce HD quality content.

iflix was first launched in Malaysia and the Philippines in May 2015. Currently, it is also available in Indonesia and Thailand. The company is intending to aggressively expand into other emerging markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe in the next few years.

Market Share
The company claims that it has reached over 2 million subscribers across markets it is currently operating. iflix currently has an ambitious goal of reaching 1 billion subscribers by the year 2020.

Since its launch, iflix has attracted an investment of USD75 million. Its latest Series B funding round in March 2016 has attracted an investment of USD45 million, led by UK-based television and telecommunication service provider, Sky. Other investors include Indonesia’s media company, Emtek Group, and international investment firm Catcha Group.

About Netflix
Netflix is a global provider of over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services based in Los Gatos, California. Founded in 1997 as a DVD-mailing service provider by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings, Netflix began its video streaming services in the United States in 2007. Netflix is currently one of the largest video streaming service provider in the world.

Netflix has more than a billion hours of movies and TV series available on its platform, with a large selection of content from the United States. The platform also has a sizeable database of Chinese, Korean and Indian movies and TV serials, and Japanese anime. The company also produces original content for its platform such as Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

Availability of content however varies according to country. For instance, Netflix’s original series, House of Cards, and Japanese anime, Attack on Titan, are not available in India, Indonesia and Singapore.

Netflix provides three pricing tiers for its subscription fee – Basic, Standard and Premium. Its Basic tier is priced at an average of USD8 (prices vary according to country). Netflix could only stream their content through mobile devices, gaming consoles, computers and smart TVs.

The company began its aggressive international expansion in January 2016 and its services is now present in more than 190 countries worldwide, including populous Asian markets such as India, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea.

Market Share
Netflix has over 81 million subscribers worldwide – of which 34.5 million subscribers are in international markets with the remaining subscribers based in the United States.

Financial Outlook
In 2015, Netflix raised USD1.5 billion in long-term debt to finance its expansion and content acquisition plans. Netflix is currently valued at USD32.9 billion, with a USD2.4 billion long-term debt.

Final Thoughts
Hooq and iflix may have a competitive advantage over Netflix by offering a wider selection of Asian and local content that is familiar to local users. Their services are also priced significantly lower when compared to Netflix.

Netflix will not only have to fend off the competition from local video streaming services, it will also have to appease disgruntled users in Asia over the lack of content available on its platform when compared to those available in the US market.

However, all is not lost as the SVOD service is still a relatively new concept in Asia, with SVOD service providers only entering the market since 2015. The region would thus provide a level playing field for Hooq, iflix and Netflix to pursue its dominance in Asia’s SVOD service market.