On-demand in plentiful supply

M2BTV, MOBTV, Smart TV all bowed in May

SINGAPORE — Despite Singapore’s high-tech reputation, its relatively small population begs the question whether there will be sufficient demand for not one, but three, rival on-demand services.

But within the space of a few weeks in May there launched M2BTV, part of Nevada-based Amaru; MediaCorp TV’s MediaCorp Online Broadband TV (MOBTV); and prominent telco/pay TV operator StarHub’s Smart TV.

M2BTV launched May 13-14 in a publicity blitz setting off local services, which had conducted trial runs in February.

MediaCorp TV is upbeat about its subscription-based video-on-demand service MOBTV, which delivers programs via PC and laptop. About 10,000 hopefuls signed up for the 2,000-strong trial, with 73% of those citing satisfaction. Fees range from $3-$10 per month for content that will include non-aired footage and previews of selected Chinese dramas.

Says Chang Long Jong, MediaCorp deputy group CEO (television), “Based on the success of our trial launch, we see a strong demand for such a value-added service and will continue to source and produce more premium and exclusive content to be featured on MOBTV.”

Slightly different is StarHub’s Smart TV service, which enables users to tape their favorite TV shows via on digital video recorders. Its 500-strong trials also were oversubscribed, by 16,400 households. DVRs worth $600 are being offered at between $300 and $400 to attract subscribers — with World Cup soccer viewed as a key hook.

“The commercial launch of Smart TV at this time will be especially welcomed by fans of the upcoming 2006 FIFA World Cup, who can choose to pause and replay any part of each ‘live’ game, be it goals or penalties!” says Mike Reynolds, head of commercial, StarHub.

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