These are among the key findings of the just released 2003 Asia
Pay Television Operators Survey Industry research report, instituted
by the Singapore-based trade publication, Television Asia, in association
with Fusion Consulting. HBO is a clear overall winner again, with
almost 50 per cent of the vote, up from 36 per cent in 2001.
Star Plus, with 14 per cent, features slightly less strongly than
in 2001, down from 20 per cent last time round. Discovery, meanwhile,
is back up to third place, having dropped out of the rankings in
Programming quality, sales and marketing support, on-air promotions,
channel popularity, value for money, least wanted channels and industry
development were the seven aspects of the pay TV business in Asia
the report examined.
The wooden spoon title of the least wanted channel went to Hallmark.
Obviously Hallmark's tagline - Where Great Stories come to Life
- has singularly failed to make any impression across the region.
The report has been compiled using data generated from interviews
with 41 pay-TV operators (including MSOs, cable operators and satellite
operators) in 16 countries between March and May 2003. The operators
interviewed represent the majority of subscribers in each country,
with the exception of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand.
An additional weighted data set is also presented in order to relate
the findings to the significance of each country market in terms
of its subscriber base. The weighting was calculated on a country
by country basis,
The countries covered represent a combined subscriber base of 57.7
million. India's 41.8-million cable viewers gave it a 72.5 per cent
weightage in the analyses that was thrown up. Countries surveyed
in the report also included, Taiwan, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia,
Singapore, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Brunei, Phillippines, Hong Kong,
Vietnam, Guangzhou (China), Indonesia, Macau, and Cambodia.
Among the other findings of the report are:
* Star Movies, which took 20 per cent of the vote in 2001, does
not draw any mention at all in the overall category this time round.
* Strong consensus on HBO as the overall best programmer in almost
* India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the exceptions, where Star
Plus rates highest.
* Discovery has support in Hong Kong and ESS in other countries.
* Zee also receives a mention in India.
Some other highlights of the report include:
Star Plus dominates the Indian subcontinent whereas HBO and Discovery
get their votes almost exclusively from Southeast and East Asia.
CNN is praised for speed of reporting and 24 hr coverage, but only
in smaller markets.
While Discovery is the clear leader for documentaries in Taiwan
and most other markets; NGC just beats it in India.
Star channels dominate in entertainment, seen as having something
Disney is praised in some smaller markets, but with no presence
in India, cannot challenge Cartoon Network.
ESS, with a score of 82 per cent, is really the only game in town
in sports. It needs noting here of course that rival Ten Sports
beams only in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as far as
the countries represented in the survey are concerned.
MTV remains way ahead of Channel [V].
In the news and current affairs genre, two Indian channels, Aaj
Tak and STAR News figure among the "best channel" list in Asia that
is led by CNN and BBC. Among the other channel genres, ESS (sports),
MTV (music), Cartoon Network (kids) and Discovery (documentary/travel)
are the leaders in their individual spaces.
Sales and marketing support
* HBO again wins with 36 per cent of the vote, down from its 46
per cent score in 2001.
* Close is Star with 29 per cent, up slightly from 24 cent in 201.
* Discovery dominates in the documentary genre, with more than
double NGC's score
When weighted data is considered however, Star takes the lead and
channels made for India come to the fore. It also brings subcontinental
channels Alpha Bangla, Sony and Zee into the Top 5. Within movies,
HBO, Star and Zee almost the same.
NGC overtakes Discovery within documentaries thanks to its support
in India. Star News, Aaj Tak and Zee (in that order) emerge as leaders
in the news and business category.
Ten Sports improves its position within sports with 33 per cent
to ESS 40 per cent and MAX 24 per cent.
MTV dominates even more strongly in music with 83 per cent, followed
by etc with 13 per cent and Channel [V] with a miserly 4 per cent.
* Overall, 35 per cent of respondents nominate HBO as the best
for on- air promotions, almost double its 2001 score of 20 per cent
*Star Plus and Star Movies take 20 per cent of the vote between
them, with supporters in the Philippines, Taiwan and India
* MTV, top in 2001 with 22 per cent, is chosen only in Sri Lanka
and by one operator in India
HBO is most popular and gets best viewer feedback, while STAR Movies
On the weighted scale: Star Plus is the favourite and NGC gets
good viewer feedback.
* Star Plus is said to have the highest viewership by operators
with 50 per cent of all subscribers.
*Viewership for Star Plus outweighs positive feedback considerably,
suggesting some lack of choice for viewers.
* HBO is pushed into second place: Indian operators say it does
not receive good viewer feedback
* NGC's positive feedback comes mainly from the larger markets
* Sony takes the place of Cinema One, rated for both viewership
and positive feedback
Value for money
Higher prices are justifiable if the content offers value, eg.
newer movies, wide appeal.
HBO is seen as easy to sell, offering quality movies which drive
the whole bouquet Several operators comment that HBO is expensive,
however this is not seen as a drawback because it is worth the price.
Star also has its supporters STAR is valued for the balance of
reasonable cost with reasonable content Channels with wide appeal
or educational value, eg. Discovery and Star Plus, are thought to
be worth the money paid for them by several operators.
Least- wanted channels Hallmark singled out as one to live without;
most agree on Nickelodeon within Kids o Hallmark is the channel
singled out by operators as one to drop overall, for the second
Potential price issue for premium channels in smaller and
less affluent markets
Premium channels are thought to have good potential in all markets
Operators in Indonesia and Taiwan rate PPV as highly as premium
Operators in India and Thailand however, do not see PPV as a major
There is some concern in smaller and more price sensitive markets
about the economic feasibility of premium services
Concerns over PPV include its potential to limit revenue and the
cost of PPV rights from the content owners (studios)
Several operators comment that PPV sports events would work, citing
cricket (especially for Indian audiences - both in India and expatriate)
A fifth of operators plan to launch their own channel in 2003.
Bundled packages mean operators struggle to offer subscribers
Several operators disapprove of bundling what they perceive as
lower quality programming with more popular content
This, along with generally high prices, means that they find it
hard to offer good value for money, especially in the less wealthy
There is also a perception that advertising should not be a feature
of pay TV.