In recent weeks it had been reported that the company had failed to make full remittances to some of its in-production original series.
The company was started in 2015 and remains majority controlled by Singaporean phone network provider Singtel. Hooq is operational in five territories: Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and India.
The company said Friday that it had been unable to grow fast enough to keep up with global and regional rivals, and blamed “significant structural changes” in the over-the-top (OTT) video market in the five years since its launch.
“Global and local content providers are increasingly going direct, the cost of content remains high, and emerging market consumers’ willingness to pay has increased only gradually amidst an increasing array of choices,” said Hooq. “Because of these changes, a viable business model for an independent, over-the-top distribution platform has become increasingly challenged.”
A shareholder meeting and creditors’ meeting are set for April 13. Lim Siew Soo and Brendon Yeo Sau Jin have been appointed as provisional liquidators to oversee ongoing operations in the interim.
In January 2017, it emerged that Warner and Sony increased their investments in the company in a funding round that raised $25 million of additional capital. A filing from Singtel showed that Hooq raised an initial $70 million in 2015 and that the new funding round lifted that to $95 million. Singtel held an unchanged 65% of the venture, while Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures Television each hold unchanged stakes of 17.5%. It is not clear what funding has been raised subsequently, though Singetel declared a 76.5% “effective interest” in the business.
Hooq had twice re-engineered its business model over the past 18 months. In order to pick up business from lower income consumers in Southeast Asia, it moved to offer affordable daily plans, free-to-air channels, advertising-supported video on demand, as well as the original subscription video on demand model. It was also integrated into the multi-functional lifestyle app from Indonesian tech giant Grab.
In India, it switched to operating a different model again, acting as an aggregator of English-language content for the sub-continent, and counted on a deal with Disney’s Hotstar.
The company was also engaged in a race to develop and produce large quantities of local content. In 2018, it set up a young filmmakers guild and last April announced plans to develop 100 shows in 2019 largely sourced from the territories in its footprint. It also had a content partnership in Indonesia with Vice Media.
As recently as September, Hooq announced a first-look deal with celebrated Singapore director Anthony Chen, and in December announced a content partnership underpinned by support from Singapore’s InfoComm Media Development Authority.
But in recent weeks, industry sources pointed to payment and greenlighting problems.
In Thailand, a series agreed with Kantana failed to move into production after Hooq’s funds failed to arrive. Production of Thai drama “Love Stalker” with local company T-Group was halted after one week, because promised funds from Hooq also failed to materialize.