True, CTH diversify TV strategies

24 Jan 2014

Cable-based pay-TV operator Cable Thai Holdings (CTH) has formed a partnership with prominent satellite (DTH) TV provider PSI to expand its service coverage beyond its cable network footprint and enlarge its subscriber base, whilst jointly offering new channel packages. The new packages are heavily based on sports, in particular English Premier League (EPL) football, as CTH won the rights to screen EPL matches in Thailand in 2013-2016 – with previous EPL rights owner TrueVisions, part of telecoms group True Corp, losing the prized channel asset. As reported by the Bangkok Post, CTH aims to have signed up two million satellite-based subscribers to the joint channel packages via the collaboration with PSI within a year, compared to 100,000 subscribers currently taking a satellite-based package via an existing service offered by CTH alongside its core cable TV operations. According to Krissanan Ngampatipong, CEO of CTH, PSI ‘has a share of 14 million [TV] households from 22 million households across Thailand’, meaning that the partnership deal gives CTH a significantly expanded service presence in the mass market/free TV sector. Separately, CTH reports that it has to date transformed 40% of its cable TV network across the country from analogue to digital. TeleGeography notes that CTH, formed via a joint venture of around 345 local cable TV operators, followed up its EPL rights win in Q4 2012 by announcing a project to deploy its own core switching network throughout Thailand to support up to 500 cable TV channels, as well as to enable the launch of broadband internet and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) services. CTH also revealed plans to roll out fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in selected areas, introduce interactive TV features and begin reselling mobile services, although to date none of the mooted telephony or internet services have been launched. CTH reportedly had some 3.5 million cable subscribers in 4Q12, spread amongst its local partner operators.

In a related announcement reported by the Bangkok Post, TrueVisions, which earns its core revenues via its satellite/cable pay-TV services, aims to enlarge its subscriber base via a different strategy, by developing synergies with its recently licensed digital terrestrial TV (DTT) business to offset falling premium pay-TV channel subscribers – affected by the loss of EPL rights to CTH. TrueVisions managing director Anat Mekpaiboonwattana said: ‘We hope our standard-definition digital channel will strengthen our pay-TV business,’ adding that TrueVisions will add premium content to its free TV channel to ‘enhance synergies’ with its pay-TV business. The report continues that last year TrueVisions aggressively implemented a mass market strategy including a partnership with a local cable operator offering free-to-air channels as well as convergent services with the other divisions of True Corp. TrueVisions reported that its total TV subscribers increased by around 100,000 to 2.4 million in the third quarter of 2013, which it attributed to converged packages with fixed line/broadband division True Online, which has rolled out an extensive HFC DOCSIS 3.0-based high speed cable network. However, TrueVision’s addressable pay-TV audience totals ‘three-to-four million households’ according to the Post’s report, which quoted analysts calling the pay-TV market ‘saturated’, while DTT services are expected to expand TrueVisions’ availability to 22 million households, thereby boosting user figures substantially, with Mr Anat expecting TrueVisions to increase its customers ‘by 20% this year’. Furthermore, although True lost the EPL rights for the 2013-2016 seasons it has attempted to compensate by adding music/entertainment content including live events plus additional advertising revenue.

Thailand, Cable Thai Holding, True Corp