Astro: Sooka would not cannibalise other OTTs, services


ASTRO Malaysia Holdings Bhd sees very encouraging customer feedback for its in-house over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, Sooka, which complements many other platforms catering for different markets.

Its commercial director Azlin Arshad (picture) said Sooka was designed to serve a particular segment of customers and will not overtake its traditional base.

“We rolled it out to satisfy a segment of the market that wanted content without the traditional box or full-paying premiums. There will always be a segment of the market anywhere in the world that has different viewing choices and we are happy that this catered to this segment,” Azlin said during the virtual launch of Astro Ultra Plug & Play Box yesterday.

She said more partnerships would be announced this year as Astro aims to become the leading aggregator of streaming services in the country.

The pay-TV operator launched Sooka last month after elevating its business through various partnerships namely with HBO Go, iQiyi, Disney+ Hotstar and the latest, Netflix.

Recently, the OTT’s IP-based customers were able to enjoy the UEFA EURO 2021 via mobile phones.

Meanwhile, the newly launched Astro Ultra Plug & Play Box is designed to be a seamless and convenient set up, running solely on broadband and without any cables.

Azlin said the new product addresses some of the main customers’ concerns, including rain fadeout and installation wait times.

“When the weather is bad, the streaming via satellite is affected. We are also aware that for the last 25 years, customers have had to wait for someone to help install the Astro box and the satellites on the roof.

“But now with this new box, anyone can do it on their own, by following simple instructions on a video that is provided in the whole package,” she said.

She said the box is currently available for customers in West Malaysia but will soon be ready for orders across Malaysia.

“It will also depend on how prevalent high-speed broadband is in these areas. This has been a long time coming and we’ve rolled it out where broadband access is, but we are not where we want to be yet.

“Right now, we have more than 300,000 boxes in the field but we anticipate Astro Ultra Plug & Play growing alongside the others,” she said.

Astro director of product engineering Shahrul Imran said the product will be a game-changer for Astro because of how the content is delivered.

“The content is the same but our customers now have options, if they want to stream using satellite or via the Internet. This will be the first time a box allows pure streaming for both traditional and video on demand,” he said.

He also said the new product is not an Android box.

Shahrul said Astro is working on enabling all kinds of applications to stream through by enabling all third party’s OTT to become available.

Astro shares rose 1 sen or 0.9% to RM1.12 yesterday, giving a market value of RM5.84 billion.