Tech Industry

HOOQ might just be Asia's answer to Netflix

Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Singtel join forces to start a new video-on-demand service for the Asian market in the first quarter of 2015.

Netflix has yet to officially launch in Asia, but it looks as though the current top dog in streaming video-on-demand will be beaten to that market.

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HOOQ -- a Netflix-like service expected to launch in the first quarter of 2015 -- will offer more than 10,000 movies and television series that will be made available to users through video-on-demand streaming, as well as downloads to personal devices. The service is a collaboration among Singaporean telecommunications company Singtel Group, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros., the trio announced late last week.

The new business model puts HOOQ into direct competition with Netflix. Currently, users in territories such as Australia and Singapore maneuver around Netflix's geoblocks to access the vast library of shows available on the popular US-based streaming service. While the American content provider has yet to officially enter the Asia-Pacific market, there is indication of its services entering the scene, first through Australia and New Zealand by March 2015, followed by plans for other high-speed Internet countries such China, Japan, and South Korea.

"We are starting this venture to change the way people across Asia view entertainment. Today, across developing markets, there is limited access to quality entertainment, streamed directly to the screen of one's choice," HOOQ CEO Peter G Bithos said in a statement. "It's either illegal, high cost or difficult to get. We aim to fix that."

Content will come from Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment. Local Asian content will also be made available. The first wave of countries to experience HOOQ will include Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Thailand -- countries where the Singtel Group already has a strong presence.

Earlier this month, Singtel experienced its first brand identity change in 16 years, stating that the company is committed to enrich their consumer's lives with "better service, technology, and content."

Singtel's CEO, Chua Sock Koong, had also previously talked about the importance of telcos charging OTT services such as Hulu for using carrier services to push content to consumers, citing the Netflix and Comcast relationship as an example of an ideal arrangement.

The new joint venture will see all three parties injecting S$27.6 million ($22 million) into HOOQ Digital, with Singtel Group holding 65 percent of shares. Warner Bros., with AXN Investment (a subsidiary of Sony Pictures) will each possess 17.5 percent. The headquarters will be based in Singapore.