Grab moves into video content with Hooq

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First it was ride-hailing. Then it was payments. Delivery services for food, groceries, medicine as well as insurance soon followed.

And now, Grab is making the move into… entertainment.

The Singapore-based unicorn has partnered with video-streaming service Hooq to offer content through its platform.

This collaboration will give users the ability to view over 10,000 hours’ worth of video content from Hooq’s platform within the flagship Grab app, as the ride-hailer takes another step towards its goal of becoming Southeast Asia’s “everyday super app.”

Where possible, users will be able to pause viewing via Grab on their mobile device, and watch the rest of their show or movie once they get home on a smart TV or laptop with the Hooq app.

Grab users will get access to all of Hooq’s free content without needing a separate Hooq subscription and also a three-month free trial to access all of its premium content.

Those who wish to sign up to Hooq after the free trial will be able to do so using GrabPay.

The feature is slated to launch in Q1 2019, initially in Indonesia and Singapore. A regional rollout is expected to follow.

“What we’ve been focused on is creating the best video content we can – bringing together the best of local, and the best of Hollywood,” Hooq CEO Peter Bithos told Tech in Asia. [This partnership with Grab] allows us to reach subscribers at a scale that would be difficult for us to do otherwise.”

Bithos added that Hooq has been working on updating its tech to enable closer integration with third parties for almost a year, and that the partnership with Grab had been in the works for about three months prior to today’s announcement.

Explaining the ride-hailing firm’s decision to make the move into streaming content, Hidayat Liu, Grab’s group head of strategy, partnership, told Tech in Asia that it had found video to get significantly higher engagement from its users than music or pictures.

“In terms of our strategy we’ve been quite clear: We do what we do best ourselves, but don’t overstretch when we know there are other players that have better capabilities,” he added. “The content side is beyond our domain expertise, and partnering with Hooq, from day one, was part of the strategy.”

Financial and commercial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Annual revenue from subscriptions to online video services across Southeast Asia is expected to grow 6.5x from US$60 million in 2017 to to US$390 million by 2022, according to research firm Dataxis.

Last April, Grab rival Go-Jek said it would launch its own video-streaming service, Go-Play, in addition to partnering with US media firm Vice to produce content.

Danny Koik, regional head of partnerships at Grab, told Tech in Asia that there are no plans at this stage to create original content with Hooq or other potential partners.

“If there’s an opportunity and that helps create content, that’s something we’ll naturally explore. But the short answer is, this is not on the cards at this point in time,” he said. “Again, it’s not something we are skilled in, so we will take a very collaborative approach.”

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