Janice Lee on Viu’s Content Lineup, Driving Subs


Viu will continue to expand its lineup of content acquisitions, format adaptations and original IP development as it works to drive its subscription base across the 16 markets in its footprint, CEO Janice Lee detailed at the APOS 2020 Virtual Summit.

Lee, who is also managing director of the PCCW Media Group, noted that the dual advertising-subscription model has been successful for Viu since its launch five years ago. “Last year we decided we could start firing up our subscription engine more. One, by putting more content behind a paywall. We have a wider portfolio of local content, as well as pan-regional content, and we’re also producing original content. With a bigger portfolio of content and a large user base, we were confident enough to start developing a new demarcation of what sits in front of and behind the paywall. During the first half of the year, we’ve all seen tremendous usage growth. But none of us are immune to the impact of COVID, which meant that in the first few months of the year advertising was soft. Usage shot through the roof but the advertisers’ reaction was to defer some of their spending. The fact that we beefed up our subscription offering meant we were able to more than make up for that slowdown in the advertising market. We grew by more than 50 percent in terms of our subscription revenue in the first few months of the year compared with last year.”

Korean content is key to the Viu slate—”we were the first to see that white space in Asian content,” Lee said. However, “in the last two and a half years we have widened our content portfolio quite significantly with local content partnerships.”

Lee continued, “The third link is developing original content assets that we can exploit, apart from being on our own platform, in various means. Recently we had success with Pretty Little Liars, a Warner Bros. format we adapted, produced in Indonesia. It’s comparable in performance with the Korean titles. We know that great content that is relevant to consumers and produced locally is something that has been rewarding for us. We look at adapting global IP in our region. We look at developing original content such as Bubble Tea. We experiment with a lot of social TV formats…that can weave into the day-to-day usage behavior of our users.”

In this highly competitive landscape, Lee said Viu is focused on “building high user engagement. It’s not just how many users but how much they use our service. Secondly, it’s building that robust monetization model, because it has to be sustainable. In that first phase of our launch, we were really focused on building scale and a robust monetization engine that is SVOD and AVOD. In this current phase, it’s all about how to realize the assets we’ve built, how to drive the unit economics, how to improve our decision making, which is enabled by the data we’ve gathered. That will help us drive the long-term growth of our business.”

“The industry as a whole is growing,” Lee continued. “How do we gain more share as the market grows? How do we make better decisions in terms of content acquisition and production? We are improving the precision of our customer acquisition. We want to keep improving the economics as we grow.”