1 MAR 2022

Southeast Asia Moves Towards a New Model of TV Consumption

The Trade Desk found that the region welcomed 20 million new OTT viewers in the past year. There are now 200 million users who stream 9.7 billion hours’ worth of OTT content per month.


According to a new study by The Trade Desk, a third (34%) of Southeast Asian viewers are now streaming over-the-top (OTT). The research also shows that the region welcomed 20 million new OTT viewers in the past year. There are currently 200 million users who stream 9.7 billion hours’ worth of OTT content per month, an increase of 22% in OTT consumption over the past year. This further indicates that OTT services are meeting consumer demand for professionally-produced TV content streamed on-demand over the internet, which has accelerated throughout the pandemic.

The study found that OTT has captured viewers who are increasingly shifting away from traditional TV, whose content is not available on demand. Regionally, more than one in five (22%) OTT viewers no longer watch traditional TV. This is a 29% year-on-year increase that is attributed to more consumers working from home and bingeing on content at their convenience throughout the pandemic. The findings are consistent with the same study conducted one year prior. OTT viewers streamed more during the pandemic, with 73% planning to maintain or increase OTT consumption even after the pandemic.

“Today’s consumers are moving towards a new model of TV consumption, one where they can watch their favorite shows anytime, anywhere, and on any device. For broadcasters and advertisers, it’s now about how quickly they can pivot to where the eyeballs are moving. Many traditional broadcasters are at the forefront of this as they have invested heavily in their own OTT offerings,” says Mitch Waters, Senior Vice President for Southeast Asia, India, Australia, and New Zealand, The Trade Desk.

56% of the viewers across the region say their favorite programs are on OTT, compared to 41% on traditional TV. This trend is even more pronounced in Singapore, where just 36% say their favorite shows are on traditional TV. In fact, the lion city logged the highest OTT penetration in the region, with one in two users now streaming OTT. Singapore viewers cite flexibility as a massive draw to OTT, giving them the ability to watch shows whether they’re on the go or at home.

The study affirms that younger viewers are driving the shift to OTT. Across the region, 44% of OTT viewers are Millennials and Gen Zers, aged 16 to 34. These age groups are among the most coveted by advertisers because they are at a stage in life where they are starting to build long-term brand loyalties, and they tend to be trendsetters for all age groups. In Singapore, these young audiences are early adopters and heavy users, often consuming more than four hours of OTT content per day.

According to the study, ad-supported viewership has snowballed. Currently, 116 million Southeast Asian viewers have embraced ad-funded content. An overwhelming majority of these viewers are ad tolerant, with nine in 10 (89%) willing to watch two or more ads in exchange for an hour of free content. In Singapore, ad-supported viewership is rising fast as more than half of OTT viewers (52#) use ad-supported platforms.

With millions relying on ad-funded content, OTT is proving to be a valuable channel for brands competing for consumers’ limited attention. The study demonstrates that OTT’s professionally produced, premium content offers advantages for brands. In particular, brand recall of OTT ads is at an all-time high of 39%, compared to 29% in the prior year.

Gen Z and younger Millennials are also dictating the content that will succeed on OTT platforms. Korean content, a Gen Z favorite, has dominated streaming schedules, stealing the spotlight from the Western fare. While the study found that the popularity of Korean content rose by 21% across the region, Western content saw an 11% drop in popularity year-over-year. Regionally, K-drama content is now the most popular genre on OTT, with 60% of women ranking it as their top genre, as did 62% of Gen Z viewers. Specifically in Singapore, Korean content saw an increase of 25%.

Key cross-market highlights from the study include:
- 39% of OTT viewers in Singapore have switched from traditional TV, the highest in the region. The Philippines claims second place at 29%, followed by Indonesia at 27%.
- Indonesia logged the most significant increase (more than 26%) in OTT penetration; 30% of Indonesians now stream OTT, consuming 3.5 billion hours every month.
- Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia have the youngest audiences: 51% of OTT viewers in these three markets are under the age of 34.
- The most ad-tolerant market is Indonesia, where 42% of viewers are willing to watch four ads or more for each hour of free content. - Thailand ranks second at 41%.
- Seven out of 10 (70%) OTT viewers in Thailand use ad-supported platforms versus 58% regionally.
- While local content dominates in Thailand, Korean content has become the top preference in Indonesia and the Philippines – outranking both local and Western content.