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Sony Pictures, Warner Bros & Singtel ink JV for video streaming service in SE Asia

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MUMBAI: Sony Pictures Television, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Singtel inked a joint venture - HOOQ - start-up, to offer a regional over-the-top (OTT) video service in Asia.

HOOQ will deliver both Hollywood blockbusters and television series, as well as popular local movies and programmes to customers anytime, anywhere by enabling them to stream and download their favourite shows on their device or platform of choice.

HOOQ will be rolled out progressively in the Singtel Group’s Asian footprint, including Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Thailand, from the first quarter of 2015.

The studios provide access to their premium content and know-how. The Singtel Group provides market access with its customer base of over half a billion mobile customers. HOOQ will also use the Singtel Group’s billing capabilities, a crucial enabler in developing markets where credit card ownership is limited.

Warner Bros. Entertainment chief digital officer and executive vice president, strategy and business development Thomas Gewecke said, “We’re thrilled to partner with Singtel and Sony Pictures Television to help grow the OTT video business across Asia. The combination of Singtel’s expertise and our world-class content is a winning combination for entertainment fans in the region.”

“Consumers expect premium entertainment content to be available to them at their convenience and as a result, over the top delivery has become an important part of our business. Through this partnership, we hope to create a service to meet that demand as it grows in Asia,” added Sony Pictures Television executive vice president - networks, Asia-Pacific George Chien.

Singtel Group Digital L!fe CEO Jonathan Auerbach said, “HOOQ is an important part of Singtel’s digital strategy. We have unique assets that give us a right to play in this space, and with our partnership with Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment, we will achieve our vision to be the largest OTT video service in the region.”

Auerbach added, “Demand for OTT video has been growing and is poised for higher growth in these markets fuelled by better data networks and the growing supply of affordable devices. This is a more than S$1 billion opportunity in our markets. Video transmission requires significant internet bandwidth, which greatly affects customer experience. With HOOQ, we are bringing together key elements of technology, service and content to deliver the full internet experience to customers.”

At launch, HOOQ will have a catalogue of over 10,000 movies and TV series including titles from partners Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

The service will offer customers a wide variety of programmes ranging from blockbusters such as Spider-Man and Harry Potter to TV favourites such as Friends and Gossip Girl.

Customers can also look forward to an extensive selection of Indian, Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Indonesian, Korean and Japanese movies and TV series.

Peter G. Bithos has been named CEO of HOOQ responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the standalone operation based in Singapore, and expanding the operation. Bithos was previously the chief operating advisor of Globe Telecom in the Philippines.

Bithos said, “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. It's either illegal, high cost or difficult to get. We aim to fix that. HOOQ will deliver a new form of entertainment that combines the best of Hollywood with the depth and richness of local Asian video content, across all devices at an affordable price.”

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