Asia Business Channel

Ride-hailing giant Grab says users can soon stream videos on its app


Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant Grab has announced that Grab app users would soon be able to stream movies and TV shows on its app as a result of a partnership with regional video streaming start-up Hooq.

Users of Grab’s app will be able to choose the content they want to view from over 10,000 hours of content from Hooq’s library that includes free-to-air channels, Hollywood films and popular local dramas.

Grab users in Singapore will be the first to view the new streaming content and plans are that current customers will get a three-month trial with the service. The service is expected to be available in Singapore in late-February and in Indonesia by the end of March

According to Hidayat Liu, group head of strategy at Grab, the partnership with Hooq and the new video streaming service is part of Grab’s strategy to become an "everyday super app."

In an interview with U.S. news media, CNBC, Liu said: "Among our customers ... video is the most important form of engagement for them. We're looking at the subscription-based video on demand, (which) actually is poised to grow three to four times over the coming few years. Based on that, we've looked at the priority of services we bring on board."

While Grab started out as a ride-hailing service, the company has introduced a variety of “auxiliary” services including food and grocery delivery, mobile payment services, and micro-lending to the unbanked or under banked in Southeast Asia.

Grab’s strategy of bundling multiple services inside a single app stems from the fact that users tend to use only a handful of applications everyday, even if they might have hundreds of apps downloaded onto their smartphones. Liu cited Indonesia as an example and said: "We see people tend to rely on opening two, three apps maximum per day. If you're not part of these top two or three apps, soon enough it becomes infrequently engaged."

At the same time, video streaming has grown in popularity across the region and globally — with the prevalence of high-speed Internet connectivity, smartphones and the emergence of video streaming services such as Netflix, regional player Iflix as well as a plethora of Chinese Internet names including iQiyi.

Mobile analytics and data provider App Annie predicts that in 2019, 10 minutes of every hour spent consuming media across the internet and television will be generated by individuals streaming video on their mobile devices. App Annie says in their report that the total time spent in video streaming apps per device between 20016 and 2019 will grow by 110%.

In the Asia Pacific region, subscription revenue from video on demand services will continue to grow. In 2017 it was estimated that streaming services generated $60 million USD and that by 2022 this will grow by more than 650% to $390 million USD.

Hooq started in 2015 as a joint venture between Singapore's largest mobile network operator Singtel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment and has steadily moved into producing local, original content — like most video streaming services today. Hooq is currently available in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. It app on the Google Play Store has more than 10 million downloads.

While Hooq also has its own proprietary app, its CEO, Peter Bithos, said that the partnership with Grab is a new way for the company to make its service readily available across multiple platforms. The partnership would potentially give the start-up access to Grab's massive user base in Southeast Asia.

Bithos commented on the partnership and said, "We took a risk and we started re-engineering our platform from the bottom up to be able to integrate seamlessly. We've built our platform and our business strategy around how customers use video, not forcing customers to take a certain path."

Hooq has daily, weekly, monthly and annual subscriptions. It also has a free, limited service where the videos available are shorter and lighter and supported by advertisements. One of the unique features of Hooq will be that users can potentially start a film on the Grab app and then continue watching it from where they left off on the Hooq app.



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