Rohana Rozhan

This interview originally appeared in the MIPTV 2014 issue of TV AsiaPac.

In the fast-developing media markets of Southeast Asia, Astro has become, particularly over the last few years, the company to watch. Reaching 52 percent of the Malaysian population, Astro is making sure its customers can access content the way they want to: as a linear experience, or on-demand, on the device of their choosing. As CEO Rohana Rozhan tells TV AsiaPac though, Astro Malaysia is much more than a pure-play distribution platform. It produces 10,000 hours of content every year to feed its 68 branded channels, and is reaching consumers through radio, publishing and online assets.

TV ASIAPAC: Tell me about the evolution of your strategy for delivering OTT and on-demand content through the B.yond and Astro On the Go platforms.
ROZHAN: We’re in the midst of our journey to serve our customers better. I don’t think our journey will ever end! We’ve done all the box swap-outs in households that have HDTV, the top-end households, and more. Over 80 percent of our customer base is now on our Astro B.yond platform. Within that, a high percentage is taking up our value-added products and services. We have just under 3 million of our customers on the Astro B.yond platform; 1.7 million are HD customers—that’s up by 500,000 on the year earlier—and just under 600,000 are PVR customers, which is double from the year earlier. Our super packs have done phenomenally well. These are bundles that are tailor-made for the different ethnicities. We’ve got a Malay super pack, an Indian super pack, a Chinese super pack and an international super pack. Our customers pay between RM133 and RM155 ($40-$47) to get the best of all that Astro offers, including HD, PVR and Astro On the Go (AOTG). We know that value bundles are very popular in our marketplace. We launched another mid-level bundle priced at RM75 ($23) and again that went really well with nearly 200,000 customers.

In terms of AOTG, our OTT service, we now have almost 900,000 customers who have already downloaded the app onto their devices, and we are happy with the response. Of the 900,000, we have just under 500,000 active users who have linked it to their account. We currently provide 30 of our linear channels and about 5,000 hours of VOD and catch-up content. Weekly viewing was about 35 minutes in the first year, it’s now over 75 minutes.

TV ASIAPAC: How has the response been from advertisers to your TV Everywhere platforms?
ROZHAN: Our ad revenue growth has been 15 percent year-on-year, so obviously we’re having a solid performance on advertising. When we go to advertisers, it’s a more comprehensive conversation, where we talk about packaging a personalized solution based on the individual client’s brief in order to optimize relevant reach. Other than TV Anywhere, our content IP is garnering unprecedented viewership numbers, we’ve got the strongest radio assets, we’ve got very strong publication assets and now we have every intention to be number one in the digital space as well. Our ground events are also attracting significant crowds.

TV ASIAPAC: What are some of the other strategic initiatives you’re focused on this year?
ROZHAN: First and foremost we are a content and a consumer play. We are creators, we are producers, we are aggregators, we are distributors. People tend to call it TV Anywhere, but for us it’s more than that. It is about content and content can come in the form of, you’re watching it, you’re listening to it, you’re reading it and you’re playing with it. Our media assets encompass all of the above. We’ve recently announced we’re making all of our traditional print publications available in a digital format to all our customers. Everyone, all of our 3.9 million and growing customer base, has access to our digital online publications. Going forward there is no reason for us to only offer our own titles to our customers. We have also recently announced a home-shopping joint venture with our channel to be launched on our platform in the latter part of the year. Our home-shopping channels will be made available through all our TV Anywhere platforms, including OTT. This year is also a huge sports year, and the year where we take delivery of eight additional transponders to enhance our linear service. [This will be] a busy year where our aspiration remains to strive to better serve our customers, by giving them better choice, experience, convenience and service.