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One 31 will add more online content on Line TV.

Smartphones and mobile technology have been influential to the digital TV business and audience, changing the landscape of the industry. Now digital TV operators are leveraging their strategies to stay competitive after experiencing some difficult years.

Several digital TV operators have been working with Line TV, one of the most popular mobile platforms, to drive audience engagement.

The latest TV channel on Line TV is BEC World Plc, the operator of Channel 3, a collaboration aimed at strengthening Channel 3’s positioning in mass-media digital TV by reaching younger audiences.

Channel 3’s strength is its wide range of content, Thai soaps, news, variety, entertainment and documentary programming.

In 2016, BEC World reported a net profit of 1.21 billion baht on consolidated revenue of 12.5 billion, down from 2.98 billion and 16 billion in profit and revenue in 2015.

Prachum Maleenont, vice-chairman of the board and chief executive of BEC World, said the company this year plans to focus on digital and online content to adapt to changing consumer preferences. The partnership with Line Thailand is expected to reflect increasing revenue by the end of the fourth quarter.

“Audience behaviour and the media landscape have completely changed because of the growth of digital devices and faster internet connections,” he said.

SET-listed GMM Grammy Plc, the operator of the One 31 and GMM 25 digital TV channels, expects to lead the industry with a strong positioning and entertainment content coverage for premium-mass audiences, especially the younger generation.

One Enterprise Co, an affiliate company under GMM Grammy that operates the One 31 digital TV channel, will add more online content on Line TV to strengthen its premium-mass positioning and to create more awareness of digital TV viewership.

“Having more content on Line TV will strengthen our engagement with audiences,” said One Enterprise chief executive Takonkiet Viravan.

This cross-platform strategy will enable the company to reach wider groups of people in both urban and rural areas because they all have smartphones, he said.

One 31 HD and Line TV have partnered for a while, bringing popular content from the channel to rerun on the latter, including Thai soaps, series, game shows and variety programmes.

“We have to expand the audience base to rural areas by broadcasting on-air while focusing on the online channel,” Mr Takonkiet said.

Line TV is known for its reruns in HD, system stability and content from digital TV partners like Channel 3, RS’s Channel 8, GMM Grammy’s GMM 25 and One 31 HD.

“Social media and online channels will make us more popular,” Mr Takonkiet said. “People will return to the first screen in the future after getting familiar with One 31 HD.”

He said One 31 last year grew by 24% in terms of TV viewership ratings and entered the top five of digital TV channels.

Ariya Banomyong, managing director of Line Thailand, said One 31 HD is the strongest partnership and has been ranked No.1 in Thai soap popularity on the Line TV platform.

“Putting content on the online channel won’t cannibalise the same content on traditional TV, but it will help drive exposure,” Mr Ariya said.

One 31 HD last year had a leading 1.53 billion views, and there were 4.3 million people on average watching One 31 HD content on Line TV.

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Saithip Montrikul na Ayudhaya, chief operating officer of GMM Grammy’s GMM Media, which runs the GMM 25 digital TV channel, said competition in digital TV will remain intense this year. She said GMM 25 plans to enhance richness in TV content, focus on audiences aged 15-34 and expand in major provinces.

PPTV, a digital station run by Bangkok Media and Broadcasting Co, will branch out from premium sports offerings to entertainment content created by big players.

After its success in sports broadcasting over the last three years, PPTV is looking to broaden its audience, especially the premium-mass segment, to enhance its position in the fiercely competitive digital TV market.

The company is on track to roll out new content aimed at driving a revenue rebound.

Surin Krittayaphongphun, the newly appointed president of Bangkok Media and Broadcasting Co, said new TV programmes started airing this month after the channel acquired several shows from leading domestic and overseas content partners across a variety of genres, including documentaries, movies, lifestyle and sports.

Mr Surin said 60-70% of PPTV’s TV programmes this year will be entirely different, offering a wider range of live broadcasts and rerun content.

PPTV also uses the strategy of “single content to many platforms” to compete with online and streaming content.

Mr Surin said high viewership ratings are still key because they reflect the popularity of overall content on the channels. He said advertisers and media agencies have an eye on digital TV channels that have higher ratings when making the decision of buying airtime.

“TV viewership ratings also reflect their return on investment, so they are still serious about high ratings,” Mr Surin said, adding that the right content is another success factor.

“The TV programme line-ups on PPTV this year will consist of a good mix of premium content, much of which is from the world’s top content providers,” he said.

On the other hand, SET-listed MCOT Plc, the state-run operator of digital TV channels MCOT HD and MCOT Family, has set social engagement as its new vision.

The company’s 2018-22 strategic plan focuses on enhancing digital TV performance while engaging more with audiences.

MCOT president Kemmatat Paladesh said the company’s new vision includes fresh programming carefully selected to meet the needs of target audiences.

MCOT’s new content to air on MCOT HD includes Chinese and Korean series, animation, the Reebok Crossfit Games and documentaries.

MCOT has also launched a programming revamp of MCOT Family 14 since November 2017 in a bid not to rely solely on advertising.

MCOT Family will continue to deliver edutainment content to audiences to comply with regulations set by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.

“We expect revenue to grow by 5-10% this year, reaching 3 billion baht if the new TV programming works,” Mr Kemmatat said.

He said MCOT has adopted new technologies enabling content delivery on any platform, so audiences have access any time, anywhere.

Human resource development and cost control are the two priorities that MCOT must achieve, he said.

Mono 29, the digital TV channel operated by Mono Broadcasting Co, expects to break even within two years after finding success over the past three.

Mono is investing more than 900 million baht this year to enhance content at its Mono 29 digital TV channel, partnering with international studios such as 21st Century Fox, Lionsgate and DreamWorks and featuring NBA basketball to drive viewership and become No.2 among the 24 free TV channels.