Streaming video service Hooq is finally launching in Singapore, the company announced today. The Singaporean #startup is opening up its video streaming and downloading platform to consumers in its home market almost two years after launch, during which time it hit four other countries in Southeast and South Asia.
The service has so far been available in the Philippines, Thailand, India, and Indonesia.
Hooq hopes its locally tailored content will appeal to Singaporeans.
Hooq CEO Peter Bithos tells Tech in Asia that Singaporean customers are quite sophisticated when it comes to online services, so the company wanted to make sure its offering was of a high enough quality before launching it in the city-state.
In addition, the Singtel-owned company has kept working on its tech to improve streaming quality and speed. Features like the option to download content for offline viewing will be available here as well.
Like most of its competitors, the service its subscription-based. The monthly fee in Singapore will be S$8.98 (US$6.20). Netflix’s monthly subscription fee starts at S$10.98 (US$7.70).
Hooq will be widely available to consumers, but the company will also partner with Singtel to offer its service to the telco customers through data bundles.
Peter says the service has over 3 million registered users across its markets, adding “hundreds” of them every month.
Chasing screen time
So far, Hooq had been operating in markets with little or no competition from global players like Netflix (which changed when Netflix did a global blow-out launch). Iflix, part of the Catcha Group, has been competing with Hooq in Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. It’s also available in Malaysia, where Hooq hasn’t landed yet. In India, there are a number of local streaming services.
Hooq’s major competitor in Singapore is Netflix, which has both money and a lot of international content deals – not to mention a growing number of high-profile original productions. Amazon’s Prime Video service, home to its own original shows like Transparent and this month’s The Grand Tour, is expected to reach these shores in the near future.
When asked about Hooq and Iflix, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had told Tech in Asia he wasn’t too concerned because he didn’t think people would stick with just one service, pointing to Prime Video and HBO Go in the US. “It turns out people will pay for both if both have great content,” he said.
Users in Singapore can also choose among other regional options like Hong Kong-based Viu, which specializes in Korean and Japanese content, and Taiwan-based Catchplay that focuses on film. Rival telco Starhub has its own streaming service called Starhub Go.
That said, the greatest hurdle for all of them is likely to be an indifferent audience, whose response to streaming providers has been lackluster, according to local consultancy Media Partners Asia.
The greatest hurdle for all streaming services is likely to be an indifferent audience.
Peter feels that Hooq’s edge in the market is going to be the depth of its catalogue and the way it’s put together to attract the local viewer. Besides the requisite films and shows from the US, Hooq has a lot of local content for Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Indonesian audiences. It’s also started its own original productions with local shows like On The Job: The Series in the Philippines.
Its relationship with Warner Bros and Sony Pictures (both companies own a minority stake in Hooq) has helped it secure some exclusive deals for the region, like the Supergirl TV show. The service currently features over 35,000 hours of content.
Peter appears confident about the local player advantage in Singapore, which will help Hooq with marketing and beefing up original productions in the region. “Local is a battleground on which we’ll go toe to toe with anyone,” he says.
The company hopes to focus on more regional markets next, like Malaysia and Vietnam, and perhaps the Middle East.
Converted from Singapore dollars. US$1 = S$1.43