Christopher Slaughter, CEO, CASBAA spoke to Reuters Inside Agency in the lead up to their annual conference, held in Hong Kong from 27th October – 30th October 2014. The convention’s theme – Beyond the Box – promises to explore how technology is changing the region’s TV consumption habits.
CASBAA is the association for digital multichannel television, content, platforms, advertising and video delivery across Asia. Could you tell us about your organisation and your role?
As CEO of CASBAA, I lead the Executive team, which is responsible for representing the interests of CASBAA’s 130 member companies across 17 Asian markets.
The mission of CASBAA is to promote the growth of pay TV and video content through industry information, networking exchanges and events while promoting global best practices. The Association is also dedicated to the development of regulatory best practices which assist the interests of both domestic and international participants within the multichannel and communication communities.
CASBAA undertakes a number of initiatives including the pursuit of copyright enforcement, promotion of multichannel TV as a key advertising medium, the promotion of regional technical standards, regulatory roundtables, and educational seminars on the business environment for traditional, electronic media, and telecom companies.
CASBAA works to inform, represent and connect our Members through a variety of platforms. We lead the industry by developing and publishing research and reports on key markets, share news and trends, and communicate with the media and general public. Through our committees and events, we inform our members, and work to create real time connections for this community.
Could you tell us about the current landscape of television and video delivery in Asia?
As of 2014, there are now more than 500 million pay TV households in the Asia Pacific region, making it the world’s largest multichannel video market, in terms of sheer number of subscribers.
That market is characterized by aggressive digitization efforts and increasing adoption of emerging IP technologies. In some markets, however, significant problems with piracy and regulatory barriers inhibit growth.
Cable dominates the Asia Pacific multichannel landscape, with China and India hosting the largest cable populations in the world. Although increasing competition from both direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services and IPTV operators is set to reduce cable market share over the coming ten years, the platform’s dominance is expected to endure long-term.
What challenges are unique to Asia?
The Asia Pacific is a geographically vast and disparate region of differing cultures and languages where a “one size fits all” business model won’t work. The region is also characterized by varying levels of market maturity and infrastructure evolution, ranging from highly developed markets such as Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore to emerging markets including Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.
The regulatory environment also varies wildly from one market to another. Policies in some markets are improving – becoming more market-friendly, more pro-competition and more pro-growth — but in other jurisdictions, policies are stagnant, and in a few they are, unfortunately, less favorable. Asia certainly has some clear examples of regulatory-induced pay-TV market distortions and regulatory failure.
What opportunities are unique to Asia?
While the buzzword of the day seems to be OTT (“over the top”), here in Asia, there is still huge opportunity for growth to be realized from linear TV and traditional pay-TV business models. The linear television business remains a powerful driver of the industry in the region. There is still a substantial upside to this traditional format, and growth continues in a variety of markets in the Asia Pacific.
Looking forward, it is critical to get the digital piece of the puzzle right and the industry is developing the tools needed as well as changing its collective mindset about how to embrace this change.
What has been the biggest game changer that you have seen in the past 5 year?
The business of delivering video to consumers is undergoing a revolution; driven by new media devices (such as tablets and smartphones), growing broadband penetration, the rise of platform competitors in most markets, and the emergence of a new generation learning to consume media via multiple devices in multiple settings.
Many of the “new media” services arrive in the consumer’s home over broadband networks which access the vast amount of media available on the global internet. Unlike traditional pay-TV offerings or even the relatively newer IPTV services marketed by telcos, a tremendous amount of the video available on the internet is obtained from third parties, who are disaggregated from the networks over which the data is transmitted.
This has given rise to “OTT” video for television delivered “over the top” of the traditional set-top-box. OTT video uses internet infrastructure to reach the consumer with an ever-growing array of offerings from major media companies as well as new entrants.
How are your members reacting to these changes?
The biggest lesson to learn is how to embrace OTT and digital delivery as an opportunity, and not to perceive it as a threat. OTT it is only a threat if we ignore the trends among our audience, and working to provide them with the great content they want, when they want it, where they want and in the format they want.
As an industry, we are developing the means of doing this in partnership with platforms, existing OTT services and stand-alone offerings.
We should not look at this as a case of either/or – linear TV vs OTT – the future is both.
What are the hot topics you will be covering at CASBAA this year?
This year’s CASBAA Convention theme, “Beyond the Box”, encompasses linear TV and what lies in the future for the industry as well as promoting innovative thinking to take advantage of new opportunities.
Our speakers have been drawn from across the industry and around the world, and they will touch upon various important topics regarding the evolution of multichannel TV in the region. From LTE and 4G mobile video to Multi Channel Networks, social media engagement and UHDTV deployments, the Convention explores how channels and operators are developing their digital strategies and what this might mean for the ecosystem, from offering non-linear content to moving outside their traditional geographic boundaries…and everything in between.
What trends do you see affecting the industry in the next 5 years?
Trends in digital content delivery will continue to evolve and influence how consumers enjoy television content on a daily basis. Technological development from non-traditional players such as Microsoft, Intel and Amazon are pushing the boundaries of who can be a broadcaster, and the industry will have to continue to adapt in order to survive and thrive.
In terms of the television itself, we’re confident that the increasing affordability of Ultra High Definition TV (4K) screens will lead to a critical mass of consumer acceptance. That, in turn, will drive further development of transmission standards and adoption among broadcasters, who will begin rolling out premium 4K channels in select markets. As a result, we’ll see ongoing improvements in picture quality and the level of detail available for home entertainment.
To find out more visit www.casbaa.com