Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox has given the house of mouse the upper hand in the global box office arena—an advantage that will only get bigger once they have completely launched their highly-anticipated streaming service. Disney+ looks intent in pulling out its licensed properties from its competitors—particularly Netflix–by the end of the year. 

Around the world, news outlets are spelling doom traditional entertainment, saying that we are at the point of no return when it comes to cordless media. In other territories, the race has shifted to streaming views. But in the Philippines, where TV setups have remained the same and the way people have been largely consuming content is as before, new media is still slow to adopt.

Filipinos still love television, and we find it difficult to believe that streaming will somehow completely take over. Yet one expert says that, even here, that might not be the case soon.

Aneesh Rajaram is the CEO of Vewd, a company that specializes transitioning companies to Over The Top (OTT), a media service that offers itself directly to viewers over the internet. By making OTT possible on nearly 50 million devices each year, Vewd leads the way in its category. Market leaders such as Samsung, Sony, Verizon, TiVo, and many more rely on the company's products and services. Vewd enjoys a 70 percent market share in smart TVs and over 75 percent of set-top box manufacturers use their products.

According to Rajaram, the OTT streaming service has caught on in the Philippines and have and media companies have in turn, have only just began to hop in on the trend. He calls it the cordless generation, where more and more people, particularly Gen-Z kids, are getting accustomed to consuming media through wireless means. Its advantages are obvious and have been thoroughly discussed in the past. Streaming services provide consumers the luxury of when and where to watch, in which quality you choose to stream it.

Currently there are four major players in terms of providing streaming services in the Philippines. There’s HOOQ and iFlix, who entered the market in 2016, streaming service giant Netflix, and iWant, the only local streaming service in the country.

When looking at HOOQ and iFlix, the first to start offering their streaming service, they initially struggled to capture the attention of consumers. But in recent years, they have become a mainstay OTT service. Rajaram gives an insight as to changes they have implemented over the years.

Billing options in the Philippines have stayed the same throughout the years; where in other countries PayPal and credit cards are used more often, Filipinos would rather use cash. When Uber and other ride-hailing apps first launched in the countruy, for example, they quickly added a cash option. This feature is barely utilized in the American version, if at all.

iFlix and HOOQ were able to partner with local telecomm companies, bundling their streaming services with that of basic load packages. Filipinos use cellphones more than any other people in the world, whether for online browsing or SMS. “OTT services should be flexible, whether it’s through billing consumers or adjusting internet speeds to what the market is capable of,” Rajaram says.

In recent years, local TV shows and movies have been licensed to these services, further developing the market. Rajaram was pretty adamant about the importance of direct TV and OTT working hand-in-hand, because at its core, licensed material is the backbone of these companies. As he pointed out, major networks such as ABS-CBN are still in control of media in the country, and own content that Filipinos are used to seeing.

But today, 61 percent of adult Filipinos own a smartphone, spending an average of more than 3 hours on social media. This means the potential is huge, and is a chance for the networks to evolve along with the consumers. Watching the latest Marvel movie is one thing, but imagine having daily episodes of Philippines’ most popular soaps? Cardo will never die, so to speak.

Netflix plans cost around PHP400 to PHP500, and we assume that prices for future streaming entities like Disney+ will be somwhere near that range. A comparable amount to the cable services of old, and is one OTT's many selling points. “It’s always about accessibility. You can go and watch whatever and whenever you want," Rajaram opines. "It’s offerings and payment offers are transparent and very flexible. You know what you’re going to get.”

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