Since the advent of streaming services that allow consumers to watch programs whenever and wherever they want, traditional TV has become more aggressive to keep up with these emerging platforms.
It’s good to note that even though we are dominated by everything digital, a lot of people still prefer watching on big TV screens compared to just using their mobile devices when enjoying their favorite programs. In fact, based on the most recently available data gathered through an extensive survey by Kantar Media, traditional TV is far from meeting its demise as daily TV viewership has risen to 3.7 hours from 3.4 hours in 2014.
Perhaps, this favorable viewing habit inspired the country’s leading media company to expand its market for TVplus. It now targets six million boxes sold by the end of 2018 (it has sold five million units as of May). Although it currently dominates the market for digital TV receiver, ABS-CBN’s TVplus has its own downside – it doesn’t have premium channels.
Now, here comes EasyTV, another DTT (digital terrestrial television) service that offers not just local free to air channels but premium international channels, too. And because it’s a digital receiver, you don’t need a cable subscription to have access to quality and exclusive content.
“Most of you guys would be familiar with ABS-CBN’s TV plus. There’s no denying that our product was inspired by TVPlus. They did a great job. They have around 5 million boxes deployed nationwide. In about 40 months they’re able to do that. What TV plus has been able to do was basically give viewers very clear channels. Prior to that, if you were not a cable television subscriber, you get poor TV reception,” Rene Esguerra, Chief Operating Officer of Solar Digital Media, told MS Entertainment during a roundtable interview with some select members of the press.
Esguerra further said that EasyTV offers something very unique. It offers 15 premium local and international channels that provide multi-genre programming, ranging from general entertainment and kids, music and sports, to travel and lifestyle, to name a few.
Apart from Solar Entertainment networks ETC, Jack TV, Solar Sports, BTV, and NBA Premium TV, Easy TV has MTVph, BOO, K Plus, Zoo Moo (world’s first children’s network channel devoted entirely to the animal world), Aniplus, Outdoor Channel, Gone Viral TV (popular online videos now on TV), Zee Sine (Bollywood Entertainment), Shop TV, and History Channel.
“Most people question why our box is a lot more expensive than TVplus. TVplus is P1499 in the market. But it offers you only the local channels. Our box, we retail it at P2,999. But the P999 is actually advance subscription for one year. So, the 15 channels are basically worth P999 per year. On a monthly basis that’s only P83,” Esguerra noted.
The executive also made it clear that they are not competing with the current market leader. They are looking at positioning their product between those who have TVPlus and those who have cable television.
“Most of the time you don’t get to watch all the channels available on cable, you just skip and go to the channels that you just want to watch. We have gone through the effort of being selective of the channels that we want to offer. We went through research to have a market feel to determine what the consumers really want or what is acceptable to local viewers,” Esguerra explained.
Solar Digital Media, a subsidiary of Solar Entertainment Corporation, put emphasis on premium content when it launched the product on May 9 and made it available in the market on May 24. For instance, K Plus, it’s Korean channel that offers K-Drama and other K-pop content, was included in the lineup of EasyTV channels based on a research.
“We have Korean content. ABS-CBN and GMA have Korean drama, too. But based on our research, viewers want Korean content in its original language but with subtitle in English. And we have programs simulcast in its airing in Korea and Japan,” Esguerra shared.
The plan for EasyTV is to be rolled out nationwide but at the moment Solar wanted to ensure that the Metro Manila operation is close to perfect before they could deploy units outside the capital region. They are also planning on adding more channels later on depending on the information their research team would gather.
In terms of sales, Esguerra wasn’t able to give an exact figure on how many units have been sold since its launch on May 25 but he said that the performance of EasyTV has exceeded their expectations.
They plan to deploy at least half a million digi boxes within the next 12 months.