CASBAA and international media and technology law firm Olswang launched Singapore's first online directory of digital content available from legitimate sources. The pilot directory is available to all at finddigitaltv.com and allows users to search for content by genre, device or just search for content that is free.
The directory is being launched in tandem with "Digital, Legal and Anywhere – TV in Singapore Today", a new report showcasing the varied and abundant audio-visual content available through non-traditional media platforms and delivery mechanisms in Singapore. In the course of researching the report, Olswang found that the offerings were far more prolific and advanced than many were aware. A key problem however appeared to be consumer-awareness of this, and the directory is therefore hoped to be a first step towards addressing this problem.
"We hope that Singaporean consumers will be pleasantly surprised at the variety and richness of legitimate services that are now available" said Elle Todd, Partner, Olswang.
The report observes that multi-screen, multi-platform offerings of legitimate programming are rapidly multiplying in the city-state. The vast majority are coming from established content providers and pay-TV platforms such as StarHub and SingTel's mio TV – sometimes separately and sometimes in partnership – while options not connected with existing players are still few. The other good news for consumers is that 44% of the offerings covered in the report and which appear in the directory are available free of charge.
"Viewers are increasingly consuming TV content in new and non-traditional ways prompted by increasing technology ownership and the proliferation of internet connected devices," said John Medeiros, Chief Policy Officer, CASBAA. "Singapore's combination of high broadband connectivity, affluence and multi-lingual population creates a particularly ripe environment for such new content choices."
But the report notes that while Singapore offers great opportunities as a market for such services, this growth and response to consumer demand comes with its own set of challenges.
The main challenge is the prevalence of Singaporean consumers using illegitimate video services. Although Singapore has a small population, it has the highest per capita incidence of peer-to-peer infringement of English-language TV shows in the Asia-Pacific region. Such piracy makes it difficult for new content players to enter the market, and for existing players to justify investments in new platforms.
Another issue is the regulatory 'tilted playing field' which favours foreign and illegitimate offerings over domestic options. In particular, domestic providers need to comply with various censorship rules which mean that, even when consumers can obtain the same content at the same time from Singapore-based providers, they are choosing to access uncut versions through other sources.