Study calls movies more popular than sports for Malaysian TV viewers

According to a story in The Malaysian Reserve, statistics from firm Nielsen show TV viewing habits that could have a major impact on U.S. service providers and the content providers who serve them. It seems, at least in Malaysia--a growing market for IPTV providers--movies, not sports, are the things to watch.

Nielsen's Audience Test Measurement in April, based on a target audience over the age of four (below that the viewers didn't tend to have much interest in movies or sports), found that on average about 45,000 and 44,000 TV viewers watched movies and drama series on all released channels per minute per program respectively for the month of April. Only about 9,000 saw sports genre per minute per program. This occurred in a country that The Malaysian Reserve described as "sports-crazed" where "a large population follow sports content, especially football, avidly."

The finding, which admittedly only touched on less than 0.1 percent of the total population of over 20 million viewers in a country where 4.65 million households in Peninsular Malaysia have TVs (about 99 percent of the population). In that same region, 53 percent of all viewers subscribe to Astro All Asia Networks where, television measurement data showed an average of 7,000 viewers watched sports genre programs per minute per program in April, the story said. This was, it should be noted, an increase over the avergage minute rating of the 6,000 last year.

Sports content was thought to be a viewer magnet in the Asian country but, although it didn't comment on that trend one way or the other, between-the-lines reading of Nielsen's findings seemed to say otherwise.

"Sports is certainly a factor for us to succeed, but given the high cost of sports content acquisition, we will not be able to recover from the investments," an executive from a major IPTV industry player said in the Reserve story.

Malaysia, it should be reiterated, has a growing base of IPTV service providers who are competing with free-to-air television and OTT. Maxis Bhd said it plans to launch Maxis IPTV next month and that it had signed agreements with 14 companies for IPTV content. REDtone International Bhd offers eTV, targeting mostly the Chinese language community. And TM has HyppTV.

More than sports--and again this could be a bellwether for U.S. service providers and TV Everywhere services--consumers are gobbling up smartphones and tablets and concurrently driving OTT.

Malaysia is only in seventh position with a 28 percent penetration but it's a country on a growth pattern.

While the Nielsen measurement statistics reflect just a smattering of numbers in an Asian country, they do have implications for U.S. service providers and content owners because the same assumption that sports will drive viewership is prevalent here. NBCUniversal--owned by Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA)--for instance, is better big dollars that the American viewing public will want to watch the Summer Olympics from London this month on any number of devices and any number of NBCU channels. And they're expecting especially ardent sports fans to pay more for the programming. In the U.K. YouView launched at least a more-than-trial version of its IPTV service in time for these same Olympics.

For more
 - see The Malaysian Reserve story

Related articles:
Malaysia's Maxis inks 14 IPTV content deals
Malaysian broadband provider Vasseti eyes IPTV launch
The wait's over: YouView finally launches in the U.K.|
NBC Olympics reminder: it's a pay-for-play game

Article updated July 10 to reflect corrections made by The Malaysian Reserve.