Discovering value in the local scene

WeTV’s Country Manager, Heng Aik Kuang speaks to BusinessToday on the platform’s vision to increase local production and how it plans to make that a successful reality

In June this year, Chinese technology conglomerate holding company, Tencent Holdings acquired the Malaysian video-on-demand service Iflix, acquiring more than 25 million active users as part of its efforts to rival content streaming service provider, Netflix in the region and to expand its WeTV services.

WeTV Malaysia Country Manager, Heng Aik Kuang speaks to BusinessToday Malaysia on the direction of the streaming platform amid turbulent times and plans to ramp up local productions.

“The content streaming market in Malaysia has always been a vibrant market, with a mix of content preferences, age profiles and a multilingual society. With increasing smartphone penetration, couple with cheaper cost of data, Malaysia is an attractive space for video streaming players to operate,” he says.

News report have shown smartphone penetration in Malaysia pass the 78 percent mark.

“There is a strong, if not direct correlation on the pace of growth for video streaming players to the increased usage in smartphones. Our data tells us that smartphones remain the preferred streaming device for content viewing amongst our users, and with the availability of affordable smartphones, we expect this trend to continue,” Heng tells BusinessToday.

The Country Manager then points that out since 2016, the platform have seen the overall adoption of video streaming nearly double and expects the trend to continue as more users become digitally savvy. “The average user today wants to watch what they want, when they want and wherever they may be.”

Recent turn of events, particularly the arrival of a pandemic has also played a role in accelerating the platform’s efforts to acquire new subscribers and at the same time, proved to be a challenge. “While we have seen a strong increase in viewership on video streaming platforms, it is important that the ecosystem can recover collectively,” Heng says.

According to news reports by The Star and Nikkei Asia, the company came under pressure during the health crisis and debt repayment headlines, and had laid over 50 people across several locations.

Existing challenges include the availability of high-quality local content. “In recent years especially, we have seen an increase in the quality or local content launches. This speaks to the underlying potential of the local industry,” Heng highlights.

However, with both the pandemic and increasing competition in sight, Heng expresses optimism that there is enough room for multiple streaming platforms to go after different target markets given the large range of content and differing price point expectations.

“WeTV has a comprehensive Asian entertainment offering for our users. Our focus is to provide the best and latest in local content, together with popular regional content from neighbouring markets. Given the production capabilities of our parent company, Tencent Video, there is a great opportunity to introduce more premium original content based on user preferences,” he says.

The platform hopes to increase its local production capabilities with the support of Tencent Video. “We intend to collaborate with local industry players to bring consistent high-quality local content to our users.”

“We have also seen a strong demand for new forms of regional content amongst our users. With the premium Chinese content offering from Tencent Video, users can now watch localised versions of this content exclusively on WeTV,” the Country Manager tells Business Today.

WeTV is currently operating in multiple markets in the Southeast Asia region including Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. “Given that the [WeTV] brand is relatively new in all these markets, our immediate focus is to continue increasing brand awareness. Any expansion to other markets will be considered on a case by case basis.”

As for the coming year, WeTV users can expect to see the latest line-up of both local and regional content exclusively on the platform.

“The most important aspect is to provide opportunities to increase visibility of local talent. This includes the discovery of new talent through Tencent TV’s talent discovery shows, such as CHUANG. This platform provides opportunities for undiscovered local talent to hone their skills and creativity, with an opportunity to achieve regional recognition,” Heng says, who is optimistic that this will further complement the platform’s strategy to grow local production capabilities.

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