`Yoonic’ IPTV experience

`Yoonic’ IPTV experience

Cynthia Ann Peterson

INTERNET protocol television (IPTV) services are still in nascent stages in the region, but there is no denying this new way of watching television will eventually catch on with the public. IPTV is the next logical step in infotainment technology, and one local company aims to be an early mover in this potentially lucrative space.

SyQic Capital Sdn Bhd (SyQic) plans to launch its IPTV service next month here and in some regional markets as well. The company started work on IPTV in 2004, and is ready to enter the market with its service called Yoonic. Like the name suggests, its peer-to-peer (P2P) technology utilisation to overcome last mile issues is different indeed.

`The current limitations on broadband makes IPTV not a great experience, therefore we decided on using P2P for last mile delivery to overcome bit rate fluctuations and bottleneck issues. This is not for the whole chain, as the backend infrastructure is broadcast standard,’ explains Jamal Hassim, SyQic’s chief executive officer.

The company has the technology to replicate peers, eliminating the need for a mass of actual users to make it work. Users will still need broadband connectivity to access the service however.

New content

Jamal asserts that SyQic is not about to unleash `half-past-six’ content on the masses, and with his experience in the broadcast industry, he thinks the approach the company is taking to promote IPTV differs from others in an important respect.

`IPTV in the past didn’t taken off as people saw it as a technology product. It is a different content delivery platform, and for the consumer, the technology to deliver that is irrelevant. It is about the content, and we want to communicate that to everyone,’ he says.

Serving rehashed television programmes is out, asserts Jamal.

`We don’t want to give viewers what they have seen before. For the new platform, you have to develop content specifically for it,’ he explains. Having owned a television station before (Jamal was managing director and part owner of Channel 9), he is cognizant of the challenges and issues faced in broadcasting. Moving to IPTV is a natural transition, as it enables SyQic to further explore more efficient means of delivering content, as well address the changing needs of today’s more mobile and ICT-savvy generation.

`It was incumbent on us to do this as we did not have legacy issues the television stations have. Eventually, we will work with them anyway, as with the new platform, broadcasters will be interested to develop content for it specifically,’ he says.

Broadcast quality

The quality of the viewer experience will determine the success or failure of IPTV. While content is crucial, what the end user gets out of embracing IPTV will be a key benchmark.

`IPTV is more than just delivering content. It is about redefining lifestyle by enabling users to access services at the click of a button, and orchestrating an end user experience that leverages the capabilities offered by converged technologies,’ according to a Frost & Sullivan report entitled Riding the IPTV Wave – It’s Not Just Content!

Aravind Venkatesh, senior research analyst, Frost & Sullivan, the author of the report, adds that quality of experience (QoE) has emerged as a new benchmark for service providers to quantify the impact of the IPTV service on customers.

`QoE relates to the responsiveness and latency levels of the IPTV ecosystem. It is crucial to offer a high level of user experience in terms of channel change times, faster response times, and to minimise the time taken for the video to start playing when requested,’ says Venkatesh.

Jamal agrees the final consumer experience is all important. `The technology and picture quality must be seamless for the viewer, with the final experience one with full broadcast quality,’ he says.

Great content can overcome the public’s reticence over a paid service such as IPTV, believes Jamal.

`If the content is compelling, people will pay for it as they must feel they are getting value for money. I don’t think the market can sustain a full pay TV platform as yet,’ he says.

SyQic is not in competition with the current free-to-air or direct- to- home (DTH) broadcasters, and instead sees itself as offering a complementary service.

`We also don’t see ourselves being swallowed by the TV stations. We have a lot to offer. Broadcasters today depend heavily on advertising revenue, and advertisers want to make result-oriented investments. IPTV can take advertising to completion, converting viewers into buyers,’ he says.

Advertisers have an opportunity to address their target market directly through IPTV, as they can direct potential customers to specific channels featuring their products and services, something conventional commercials on TV or radio cannot do.

Although mobility and the demand for content on the go is what service providers are trying to fulfil, SyQic is addressing the fixed mobile market.

`The mobile segment has different needs, and the content has to be created for that segment specifically. We have a mobile strategy, and we aggregate content,’ says Jamal.

Revenue pillars

SyQic says it does not want to be `everything to everyone’, and targets segments such as those with high broadband penetration for Yoonic. Jamal says the company wants to offer a simple service first, and value add over time.

`We have done an extensive survey, and we know what price point to go for. We will not be charging for content, but will be levying a small administration fee monthly,’ he says.

The company, which was founded in 2000, has three revenue pillars from IPTV namely basic service fees, advertising and transactional revenues.

`We won’t be putting pressure on the consumer, and the idea is to cover the administrative cost from the monthly fee,’ Jamal explains.

Overall, RM5 million has been invested in SyQic, and Jamal says the company is already profitable. Despite its confidence in its IPTV offering, the company is not depending solely on it for revenue.

`We have other revenue streams, and currently we have a broadcast advisory service doing consulting and design for broadcasters around the region on any platform. This area strengthens our capabilities on the IPTV side, and enables us to keep in touch with providers,’ he says.

SyQic also has a subtitling centre through a wholly-owned subsidiary, and does work in this niche area regionally.

Its IPTV play is also regional, and the company has gone to Vietnam and Singapore, with plans to go to other regional markets.

`The cost for us is immensely low, and we want to go after the Asian market. Beyond Asia, it will be on a franchise basis,’ adds Jamal.

Copyright 2007

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