This week seems to be a good one for media streaming companies in Asia. Hot on the heels of Malaysia-based Iflix raising $133 million for its Netflix-like service for emerging markets, Hong Kong’s PCCW has pulled in $110 million for its range of video and music streaming services.
Hony Capital, which recently backed WeWork’s China business, Foxconn Ventures and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek have taken an 18 percent share in the PCCW International OTT business. PCCW Media, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, will retain majority ownership.
The business operates three digital products, video streaming service Viu, short clip service Vuclip and music service MOOV. Viu is available in 15 countries in Asia and the Middle East with 12 million monthly active users. It takes a hybrid model offering both paid subscriptions and ad-supported user options. Vuclip, which was acquired two years ago, differentiates by offering shorter videos in 19 countries across India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
On the music side, PCCW Media has MOOV which is available in Hong Kong. It expanded to Vietnam last year, where the firm sees potential among a young popular with booming 3G data subscriptions.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Janice Lee, PCCW Media managing director, said the business didn’t need to raise capital since it is funded by its parent, but the deal is driven by potential synergies.
“We saw that there are strategic investors we feel we are very complementary [and] playing in different parts of the OTT space. Foxconn is a transforming company [while] Temasek and Hony have [backed] companies that have been successful in the media space,” Lee said.
Foxconn in particular, which is best known as a key Apple manufacturer, could open the door to hardware products in the future, although didn’t elaborate on that in detail.
“It’s a direction where we see cooperation,” she said. “There are definitely commercial synergies to working together.”
Indeed, Foxconn has made a sustained push into internet-of-things and media in recent times. That’s particularly clear with its investments, which have included Chinese dock-less bike rental company Mobike, audio maker Devialet, next-gen display startup DigiLens, Indian chat app Hike and SoftBank’s colossal $100 billion Vision Fund.
PCCW Media has aggressively expanded its video services with a pipeline of market launches over the past year or so, and Lee said that the primary focus now will be getting deeper into its existing markets. There may still be country launches, but adding new content — including the company’s own original productions out of Hong Kong and markets like India and Indonesia — is the immediate priority alongside product development and localization tweaks.
The overall strategy is to take a local approach to content — not unlike Iflix — to gain engagement in individual market. Already though, PCCW Media claims its most engaged users are on its service for upwards of 1.3-1.8 hours per day, consuming more than 15 videos per week.
As for MOOV, PCCW Media has been more measured with its approach with just two active markets.
“We selectively assess where we go next,” Lee explained, since the company believes that, for now in Asia, “video is much more ready for monetization for both advertising and subscriptions.”