Singtel's OTT service HOOQ files for liquidation

HOOQ Digital, a joint venture company in which Singtel has an indirect 76.5% effective interest in, has commenced a creditors' voluntary liquidation, according to an SGX filing. The filing adding that liquidation of HOOQ is not expected to have any material impact on the net tangible assets or earnings per share of Singtel. 

HOOQ was established in January 2015 in partnership with Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros. Entertainment offering regional over-the-top (OTT) video service in Asia. The news comes months after HOOQ rolled out a brand campaign last October to further its hyper-local approach to entertainment in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.

Named “Hooked On You”, the campaign featured a brand film, and an original song written and produced by HOOQ. HOOQ also previously unveiled four localised versions of an “eye-conography” created by Dentsu's Jayme Syfu and adapted from the infinity symbol in the HOOQ logo. They are made to be a creative manifestation of HOOQ’s evolution and how it is an entertainment platform built in Asia, for Asians. Marketing has reached out to HOOQ for comment.

In a statement to Marketing, HOOQ's spokesperson said the decision to close HOOQ was driven by structural changes in the OTT video market and its competitive landscape. 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, the spokesperson added.
"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. These are permanent structural changes that will not be alleviated as more people stay home and turn to digital entertainment options," the spokesperson added.

In January 2017, Singtel announced in a filing that HOOQ Digital increased its share capital from US$70 million in 2015 to US$95.2 million. Following the increase in share capital, Singtel still held a 65% stake in the venture, while Warner Bros. and Sony continued to hold 17.5% stakes. For the third quarter of its financial year ended 31 December 2019, revenue for Singtel's Group Digital Life (GDL) dipped 15% due to spending cuts by major clients of Amobee, its digital marketing arm, as well as declines in Amobee's media and social businesses.

GDL comprises Amobee, HOOQ and analytics and intelligence unit DataSpark. Singtel previously said that operating revenue dipped 15% on reduction in Amobee's revenue but was offset by higher revenues from HOOQ and DataSpark. Separately in May 2019, GDL said HOOQ recorded another strong quarter boosted by growth in revenue-generating customers in ASEAN and India. At that time, Singtel said HOOQ aims to grow its consumer base by expanding its distribution and content.

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