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Streaming battle intensifies as Malaysian pay-TV firm Astro enters fray with OTT service

TribeThe launch of another online streaming provider in Asia is set to intensify competition in the region as Malaysian pay TV operator Astro became the latest company to enter the rapidly growing sector.

Astro announced the launch of its over-the-top (OTT) service late on Friday, pledging a “mobile first” approach with “tailored content”.

The new service, called Tribe, will initially launch in Indonesia in a partnership with Malaysia-based telco Axiata but will expand across SoutheastAsia during the year in partnership with “local telecommunications and media companies in each market”.

Astro’s entry will add further substance to iflix chief executive Mark Britt’s description of the sector – in an interview with Mumbrella last August – as the equivalent of a “knuckle fight”.

The launch of Tribe in Indonesia comes just three weeks after Mumbrella revealed Iflix is also to begin operating in Indonesia, its fourth market, after Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Singtel-owned HOOQ is also operating in the Philippines and Thailand, in addition to India, while earlier this year Netflix launched across Asia with Singapore as its regional hub.

PCCW Media, the multimedia arm of Hong Kong telco PCCW, also has operations in Singapore through its streaming service Viu, and has plans to launch in Malaysia.

Tribe will offer live and on demand content initially targeting “Korean fans, sports fans and Asian movie buffs”.

It will stream content through Fox Sports 1, 2 and 3 and also feature K-pop music on Channel M. Korean entertainment channel, Oh!K, has also launched on Tribe.

Tribe chief executive Iskandar Samad said it wanted its content to become a talking point among viewers.

“Why Tribe? It is all about building a community of fans around the most popular content genres, particularly in the younger demographic,” he said. “Consumers of today are highly mobile and socially connected; we intend to build a relevant social connection between users through the content they consume.

“Social media is already the new water cooler, and we want our content to be at the centre of that dialogue. Tribe will be mobile-first, allowing consumption anytime, anywhere. It will deliver highly tailored content, combining both live and on demand, and its aim will be to provide the most compelling content that will resonate with consumers in each target market.

“Through user feedback, we will dynamically tailor the content slate to suit their preferences.”

Tribe will launch into a number of other markets this year, she added, although no details were revealed.

Astro logoAstro group chief executive Dato’ Rohana Rozhan, described the launch as a “milestone” for the company and said it will seek “complementary win-win partnerships with local telecommunications and media companies in each market”.

The aim, she said, will be to “jointly build on customer reach, and relationships, whilst leveraging on combined invested platforms and technologies, to deliver a greater customer experience”.

Steve Jones

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