Astro may join Sky, Comcast in coming out with smart TVs to stay relevant

Is Astro thinking of coming out with smart televisions that will include its programmes?

Astro’s Pay-TV chief executive officer and group chief operating officer, Euan Smith, hinted that the plan could be in the pipeline.

“It is a game-changer in the United Kingdom,” admitted Smith.

In Britain, media and entertainment company Sky, launched Sky Glass, a quantum dot LED TV (QLED) 4K smart television set with built-in Sky channels delivered over an internet connection. In the US, Comcast launched XClass TV, built for streaming.

These television sets allow access to Sky and Comcast content without the need for a satellite dish, which is something Astro’s new plug-and-play boxes promise.

“And if you get the cost distribution model right, I think it has legs,” Smith added.

“You will see more TV operators, over time, making that play. There are several hurdles to get across. One, is the price of a set-top box and television, all in one.

The challenge is not restricted to the cost price, but also in ensuring a proper distribution chain and mechanism.

“Sky has invested … approaching 140 stores across the UK in the last three years. That has put the customer directly in front of the product.

“We are super interested. I do not want to say any more than that.”

Astro has several streaming services, namely HBO GO, iQIYI and TVB Anywhere+. The company yesterday integrated Netflix as part of its services, meaning its subscribers can watch Netflix using the Ultra Box.

Astro’s content could also be made available on Netflix.

“We have spoken to Netflix (about this). There are no firm plans, but there is no reason why it would not be an option in the future,” said Smith.

Movie Pack subscribers have access to the Disney+ Hotstar application that would also be available on the Ultra and Ulti Box tops by the end of the year.

The brand was expected to introduce more streaming partners in the coming months.

“Astro is in about 5.7 million homes. But the way people consume entertainment has changed,” said Astro Group chief executive officer, Henry Tan.

“That is why we have to reinvent, evolve and embrace content that the people are watching.”

“We have to give the people what they want. That’s how we came up with new packages we believe would appeal to families and individuals,” he added.