TBI Tech & Analysis: A week in numbers from the US to Singapore

Quibi drama ‘Survive’

Covid-19 has deeply impacted media around the world and while some sectors have made the most of locked down audiences, others are facing mounting problems.

TBI takes you on a whistle-stop tour across the US, the UK, Southeast Asia and Brazil to get a taster of how different countries’ content and telco businesses are shaping up.

Quibi stares down disappointment

The well-financed short-form service Quibi has been among the biggest losers of the Covid-19 pandemic, at least that’s what founder Jeffrey Katzenberg has suggested. Whether the streamer’s disappointing subscriber numbers are down to Coronavirus or a more fundamental lack of interest in short-form remains to be seen, but according to a story from the Wall Street Journal, the service that generated more than $1.75bn ahead of its April 6 launch is now expected to miss its 2020 subscriber goal by more than five million. The report highlights that there is a lot of work to be done if it is to reach its target of 7.4 million subscribers by April 2021 with an anonymous source claiming that, at its current pace, Quibi will only manage 2 million paying subscribers. A Quibi spokesperson said the numbers were ‘inaccurate’. And the impact of coronavirus is not superficial – the streamer was designed to be consumed on-the-go with short episodes of no longer than 10 minutes. The major downside to this is that while users have had more time to watch TV than ever before, there was initially no way to watch Quibi on anything other than a mobile device.

UK’s TV spend tops $30/month

Viewers in the UK and Ireland are spending an average of £25 ($31) per month on TV services, according to a new study conducted by domestic operator Netgem TV. The report says that those aged between 41 and 50 pay the most, with over 40% spending more than £50 per month month on their TV services. Unsurprisingly, millennial viewers aged 21-30 are the lowest paying, with 74% of this demographic spending less than £20 per month. The research adds that this group also has the highest proliferation of cord-cutters, with over 55% of them paying for two or more streaming services in lieu of a pay TV provider. Geographical differentiation was also clear: of the 750 viewers questions, those in Greater London and the South East pay the most, with a majority of these residents paying over £50 per month. Some 70% of Londoners fall into this category, with 90% of the city’s respondents having at least one additional streaming service and paying for more expensive pay TV operators such as BT and Sky. By contrast, Scotland spends the least on TV services with 46% paying under £20 per month and a quarter spending less than £10 per month.

Viu drama The Bridge

The Viu from the top

Things are looking rosier for Southeast Asian streamer Viu, which offers movies such as hit South Korean flick Parasite alongside acquired TV shows and originals, including adaptations of Pretty Little Liars, My Bubble Tea and The Bridge, the latter produced with HBO Asia. That content offering seems to be proving popular, with data from Media Partners Asia subsidiary AMPD Research claiming that Viu now has 14 million monthly active users in the region, almost two million more than second place Line TV and four million more than Netflix in third. Viu ranked second in terms of streaming minutes with 13 billion in the first quarter of 2020 according to the research, compared with Netflix’s 25 billion minutes. Worth noting, though, that YouTube was not included in the research.

Rio De Janeiro

Brazil ponders 5G postponement

Despite being one of Latin America’s economic powerhouses, Brazil was facing fairly dire economic conditions prior to Covid-19 and now the outlook appears even bleaker. In a country focus released last week, global analyst firm Omdia pointed out that pay TV subscriptions in Brazil – which had already declined from 18.1 million in 2017 to 16.7 million last year – would likely fall more quickly as a result of the virus, highlighting that providers had been reporting an increase in piracy. A glimmer of hope, as in many countries, has been soaring OTT growth – to the extent that a surge in traffic during the early days of the quarantine in mid-March saw several streamers asked to reduce traffic loads on the network, in accordance with a request from local regulator Anatel. The latter, meanwhile, is also considering pausing a planned auction of 5G spectrum in response to the pandemic, while uncertainty remains over whether the government could look to charge less for the spectrum in lie of setting wider coverage obligations.​

Caroline Norbury

UK facing $45bn “cultural catastrophe”

Reflecting similar predictions from countries around the world, the latest report from global analyst outfit Oxford Economics has claimed that the UK’s screen-related creative industries would see a 57% loss in total revenue, with 42% of jobs in the sector to be lost, equating to around 102,000 people facing unemployment. The Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries’ report, commissioned by the UK’s Creative Industries Federation, called for further government support for the sector. The Federation’s CEO Caroline Norbury said that the report’s conclusions showed the UK heading for a “cultural catastrophe” if nothing is done to support the various sectors. Norbury said: “If nothing is done, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.” The report predicts an overall loss of 406,000 UK creative jobs and a total drop of £74bn for the UK’s creative industries this year, equating to around £1.4bn each week when including other sectors such as publishing, market research, music and crafts.

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