HBO upbeat about RI's 'untapped' pay-TV market

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

HBO, the largest home-movie entertainment provider in the world, believes there is a bright future for pay-TV in Indonesia given that only around 1.4 percent of TV-owning households here have access to pay channels at present.

According to Caroline Wong, senior director of marketing communications for HBO Asia, the Indonesian pay-TV market has a lot of room to grow compared to other, more developed Asian nations, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, where at least 40 percent of TV owners subscribe to pay-TV channels.

Indonesia currently boasts over 30 million TV-owning households.

"Indonesia is one of Asia's top-three biggest markets in terms of growth at the moment. And considering the current low market penetration for pay-TV, we believe the potential for growth here is enormous," said Wong.

HBO, which is available here through pay-TV providers Astro, Indovision, and Kabelvision, first arrived in Indonesia in 1994 after reaching Thailand and the Philippines a year earlier.

The movie channel is currently watched by 31 million viewers in 22 countries throughout Asia.

To help boost its viewership here, HBO launched a three-day integrated marketing campaign last Friday, including the announcement of a new film slot called Mystic Gateway, featuring fantasy, magic and adventure movies, to be broadcast every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

"HBO brings Hollywood into your home. With over 65 percent of 2006's top U.S. 100 movies premiering exclusively on HBO, it has the biggest blockbuster movies running 24 hours a day, commercial-free.

"HBO's Mystic Gateway will further enhance the subscriber's viewing experience," added Wong.

HBO holds exclusive licenses from major Hollywood studios -- Columbia/TriStar, Paramount (DreamWorks), Universal and Warner Bros -- to broadcast their blockbuster movies either after the DVD versions have been released or for premier shows.

In addition, HBO also produces its own original big-budget movie series, including Band of Brothers and Rome, which have dominated the Emmy and Golden Globe nominations in the TV production categories.

"Our own original production movies currently make up around 10 percent of total programing," Wong explained.

Making life more difficult for pay-TV here is the widespread availability of pirated DVDs. Good quality pirated copies sell for between Rp 5,000 (60 U.S. cent) and Rp 7,000 each.

Despite the competition, Astro, one of the three pay-TV operators providing HBO in Indonesia, set itself the target of signing up 3.5 million subscribers in the four years following its arrival in Indonesia two years ago. (12)
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