Singapore-based regional streamer HOOQ files for liquidation

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Pan-Asian streaming service HOOQ has filed for liquidation in Singapore, citing a failure to grow revenues quickly enough and cover its increasing operating costs. 

Launched in 2015, HOOQ is jointly owned by Singapore telecoms operator Singtel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. The Singapore-based service last reported around 80 million users across five territories: India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. 

In a statement, the OTT service said it had survived through “significant structural changes” in the streaming market for the past five years, but is now unable to provide sustainable returns to investors. 

“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 amid an increasing array of choices,” the streamer said. 

“Because of these changes, a viable business model for an independent, OTT distribution platform has become increasingly challenged. As a result, HOOQ has not been able to grow sufficiently to provide sustainable returns nor cover escalating content costs and the continuous operating costs of an independent OTT distribution platform.”

Singtel, which owns a controlling stake of 76.5% in the service, said: “The liquidation of HOOQ is not expected to have any material impact on the net tangible assets or earnings per share of Singtel.”

Although the service has three backers with deep pockets, it faces heavy competition across Asia from other regional players, including iflix and Viu, global streamers such as Netflix, and a growing number of in-country services. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia Entertainment already has HBO Asia operating in the region, and may at some point roll out HBO Max. 

Like other regional streamers, HOOQ was investing heavily in local-language content, including drama series and festival films, such as Mouly Surya’s Marlina The Murderer In Four Acts and Anthony Chen’s Wet Season. In India, where it competes with around 30 local services, it signed a content sharing deal with Hotstar (now owned by Disney) in 2018 to make its catalogue of Hollywood films and TV shows available to Hotstar Premium users. 

More recently, HOOQ partnered with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to co-fund Singapore-driven stories to be distributed on its platform. It also signed a content sales deal at the end of last year with UK-based TV distributor All3Media International, which said it would handle sales of select HOOQ originals internationally.