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Emily Wee, VP Business and Media Operations, New Media, Telekom Malaysia shares her views on the growing importance of innovation and future areas of opportunity

The Pay-TV Innovation Forum is a new global research programme for senior pay-TV executives, developed by NAGRA in partnership with leading research consultancy MTM, designed to explore and catalyse innovation across the pay-TV industry, at a time of unprecedented change.

As part of the programme, we are publishing a series of interviews with leading pay-TV industry executives from around the world to explore their views, perspectives and experiences of innovation in the pay-TV industry.

In this interview, Emily Wee of Telekom Malaysia shares her views on why innovation is becoming more important and urgent for pay-TV operators and which areas they will innovate in.

Where does innovation rank among the Malaysian pay-TV industry’s top priorities?

Innovation is definitely one of the top priorities. Pay-TV operators have to innovate to keep up with market trends, and to protect and enhance their revenue streams. For us, as a challenger in the Malaysian pay-TV industry that entered the pay-TV business only five years ago, innovation is particularly important. We always need to look for an edge to convince customers to choose us rather than our competitors.

Do you think innovation is becoming more or less important to the pay-TV industry?

Innovation has become much more important over the last couple of years. The rate of change has accelerated and we are seeing many new players in the market, while consumers have a lot more choice and freedom. A growing number of different businesses are jumping onto the OTT bandwagon, with subscription fees of some OTT services as low as a tenth of the price of traditional pay-TV packages. In addition, with technology companies, such as Google and Amazon, and TV manufacturers coming into the game, the urgency for the pay-TV industry to innovate and keep ahead is growing.

Looking ahead, what will be the most exciting areas of commercial opportunity for pay-TV service providers?

There is a substantial opportunity to bring all entertainment together on a single platform. Partnerships with OTT content providers or game developers are where a lot of convergence is happening. The key task and challenge is to ensure that the whole experience fits nicely together.

Great user experience is the missing piece of the puzzle. How can pay-TV service providers make it seamless? How can they build a search and recommendations engine that encompasses not only linear content, but also all the on-demand libraries, applications and OTT content? Smart TV manufacturers were the first to attempt that. They have tried to partner with as many content providers as possible in order to bring the adoption rate of Smart TVs up. However, the experience has not lived up to the expectations. It still feels a bit clunky, with users having to navigate between different standalone apps.

In the OTT space, TV Everywhere is a ‘must do’ for all operators. I think there are also interesting opportunities for pay-TV companies to offer standalone OTT services that are differentiated from their core propositions and targeted at new customers outside their footprints. Sky has made it work quite well with Now TV in the UK. However the jury is still out as to whether this would be applicable to the Malaysian pay-TV market, given the differences between the two markets.

Outside the core pay-TV and OTT propositions, Internet of Things and Smart Home solutions would be the first priority. This is particularly true for telcos which are increasingly focused on owning the connected home. However, it is very early days for Internet of Things and Smart Home solutions in Malaysia. These solutions will develop much faster in other countries in the region that have higher incomes and higher broadband penetration.