WESTERN streaming giants battle for Asian audience : Netflix, Apple TV and Disney are all capitalising on growing mobile usage, wide Internet access in the East.

Acclaimed director David Michod's epic The King was one of four major Netflix productions screened at Asia's largest film festival this week, underlining how streaming services are increasingly challenging Hollywood and traditional media for the attention of artists and viewers.

Asia is seen as an important part of of the global streaming industry's growth plan. In conjunction with the main event, Busan International Film Festival also hosted its first Asia Contents Awards reflecting how the market is rapidly changing, reported AFP.

''They gave us the resources and the freedom to make this properly,'' Michod said of working with Netflix. ''I'll like that I don't feel I am sacrificing myself at the altar of the box office,'' he added.

the so-called over-the-top [OTT] platforms or video-on-demand [VOD] online services that viewers can access directly such as :

Amazon Prime , YouTube, Hulu, and Apple TV - are booming Hollywood stars including Julia Roberts, Rooney Mara, Brad Pitt and Will Smith have embraced streaming as audiences grow.

''If people want to can go see / [films] on the big screen they can, but my TV at home is amazing,'' Michod explained.

Disney and Apple are set to launch their platforms across Asia Pacific this year, capitalising on growing mobile usage and rapidly improving access to faster speed Internet.

Vivek Couto, executive director at research group Meia Partners Asia, believes the region is ''crucial'' to the plans of global streaming platforms as there are ''massive prospects to go after''.

Content Boom

Online video revenue - predominantly from film and TV subscriptions and advertising - in the region will increase by 24% in 2019, making it worth $27 billion annually, according to a report by Couto's firm.

The figure is predicted to hit $50 billion by 2024.

China accounted for around 59% of revenue for the region in 2019, according to the report. But its strict regulations make access difficult for outside players with local platforms liQIYI. Tencent Video and Youku dominating.

Google owned YouTube earns the largest shares of revenues in Asia but Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney's Indian Platform Hotstar have all experienced significant growth in the past few years.

''Local content has historically been the preserve of large incumbent TV networks in markets such as India, Japan and Korea but as content and the consumption moves online, the availability and creation of premium local content becomes important,'' said Couto.

He added this would drive up demand and create opportunities for subscription streaming and for advertisers.

HBO Asia had the world premiere of its star-studded Malaysian co-production The Garden of Evening Mists at BIFF.

The film is pan-Asian by design but global in ambition. ''VOD platforms widen the distribution and amplify the presence of these Asian films to global audiences,'' the producers said.

Netflix is rolling out 17 Asian productions, with the platform's first series from Thailand expected to debut by the end of the year.

The World Students Society thanks The Express Tribune.


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