Indonesia, one of the world’s least-penetrated large media markets, is finally tuning in to subscription video services. The total number of paying subscriptions has reached seven million, according to new research.

According to new data from consultancy and research firm Media Partners Asia, paying subscriptions surged from 3.4 million to 7 million in the four months between Sept. 5, 2020 and Han. 6. 2021. That reflects the arrival of Disney Plus Hotstar, a low cost version of Disney Plus that combined a large proportion of local content with easy access and payments through a partnership with cellular phones group Telkomsel.

MPA and its consumer insights unit estimate that Disney Plus has quickly picked up 2.5 million paying subscribers, making it the market leader. It is followed by regional operator Viu with 1.5 million, local firm Vidio on 1.1 million and Netflix with some 850,000.

Indonesia has a huge population of some 260 million, but until recently has been under-served by cinemas and streaming video platforms. That situation reflects its difficult geography – it is an archipelago consisting of thousands of islands – and state of economic development. But the deployment of cellular phone and data services is allowing Internet and OTT services to catch up.

“The growth of SVOD in Indonesia, the most populous market in Asia after China and India, is encouraging but (it) has a long way to go. Cumulative subscribers represent less than 3% of the population and 10% of households. Much of the recent growth is driven by aggressive mobile distribution and pricing with Disney Plus Hotstar leading the way through its partnership with Telkomsel.

At the same time, Viu and Vidio continue to grow through mobile, and Netflix has capitalized on its mobile pricing plans,” said MPA VP and AMPD MD Anthony Dobson.

“Disney’s consumption continues to grow on the back of its core franchises, including family movies & series, local movies, general entertainment episodic series and animation. Vidio and Viu, both freemium services, continue to experience heavy consumption, with Vidio benefiting from original local dramas and Viu capitalizing on acquired Korean day-and-date content.”

In the past two years, the OTT sector in Indonesia has seen the collapse of regional platforms Iflix and Hooq, and the arrivals of Disney Plus and the Asian outreach initiatives of Chinese streaming giants iQIYI and Tencent Video (branded as WeTV). That makes Indonesia one of the few markets where the U.S. multinationals and the Chinese platforms are going head to head.

Both of the Chinese firms are expected to grow in Indonesia by developing significant consumption for local, Chinese and Korean dramas and Japanese anime on their free tier.

According to AMPD, SVOD customers in Indonesia are now subscribing to an average of 2.8 services versus 2.1 in the first quarter of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic also forced changes in consumer behavior. Indonesian subscribers are now paying an average of $2.1 per month for SVOD services, down from $2.8 in the first quarter of 2020.