Myanmar multichannel TV market primed for exponential growth: CASBAA

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Myanmar’s multichannel TV and digital video markets are primed for exponential growth, but challenges abound, from patchy infrastructure to rampant piracy.

That’s the conclusion of CASBAA’s “Myanmar in View 2017” report on the country’s multichannel market, which was released at the opening of CASBAA’s “Essential Building Blocks for Multichannel TV in Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos” spotlight conference in Singapore on 5 December.

“Even as Myanmar experiences roller coaster political events, the multichannel TV and digital video markets continue to grow exponentially,” said Christopher Slaughter, CASBAA CEO. “According to our analysis and that of many economists and infrastructure specialists, Myanmar continues to experience high economic growth with the continued liberalization of the economy, moving towards becoming a free market and welcoming foreign direct investment as well as foreign firms.”

Nevertheless, the CASBAA report also notes that Myanmar continues to suffer from inadequate infrastructure such as the lack of electricity and proper roads, although it has begun upgrading its infrastructure. “Although Myanmar’s TV market stats reflect continued under-development within the broader economy they only highlight great medium-term opportunity for our sector,” said Slaughter.

Just 12 months ago TV household penetration touched 5.8 million homes, or 55%. Nationally pay-TV connections amounted to 12% of total households. Within the traditional TV market there are signs of rapid expansion. In the free-to-air sector, the number of channels increased fivefold from four networks in 2009 to 20 channels at the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, multichannel-TV investment continues apace, including plans by several pay-TV providers to localize and improve and programming, expanding their reach through more extensive distribution investment supporting less complexity during the subscription and renewal processes.

According to CASBAA, competition in the pay-TV sector will intensify as existing operators improve their service propositions and new players enter the market. However, while TV ad spend has grown rapidly ($120 million in 2015, up 31% since 2009) widespread piracy from “overspill” satellite dishes may dampen growth in the pay-TV industry.

Through unregistered satellite services, viewers are able to access more channels at significantly lower prices than that charged by Myanmar pay-TV players. Pirated DVDs of international movies and drama, which are widely available in urban areas, also dampen growth of the pay-TV market.

“Unfortunately, there is a lack of concerted effort to tackle piracy issues in the country,” said Slaughter.

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