Singaporeans are migrating online for their video entertainment despite concerns over service quality

Photo:Nicolas Lannuzel

Singaporeans are increasingly turning to online content providers for their video entertainment. However, they are highly dissatisfied with the quality of streaming services.


Online streaming services are increasingly becoming the preferred entertainment avenue for Singaporean viewers. The average Singaporean now spends an average of seven hours and 37 minutes each week watching videos online, compared to just five hours and 44 minutes of broadcast television.

As streaming services cement their grip on Singaporean video entertainment market, expectations are rising. Despite Singapore’s fast internet speeds and strong mobile connectivity, consumers expect more from their streaming services. There are ample opportunities for streaming content providers to further refine their offerings.

Singapore is a nation of binge-watchers

The latest research report from Limelight Networks indicates that Singaporeans watch video content for an average of two hours and 35 minutes in a single sitting. This puts Singaporean viewers behind those in the United States, who average more than three hours in a single session, but above the global average of 2.48.

More Singaporeans are turning to online streaming services to fuel their video content cravings. In 2018, just 48% of Singaporeans subscribed to an online streaming service. Now, 64% of islanders are forking out for digital content.

Price features prominently in decisions to migrate online. Nearly 47% of Singaporeans said they would cancel their subscriptions to a paid television service if the price increased. Only 7.3% said they would never abandon their television subscriptions.

Ookla, a company that tests internet speeds, named Singapore’s internet as the world’s fastest for 2019. With access to a hyper-fast, uninterrupted internet service, Singaporeans are increasingly expecting higher quality when it comes to online video content.

Online streaming services have to respond to consumers’ rising expectations

Despite enjoying a steady stream of new users, online video streaming services are struggling to meet consumers’ lofty expectations. The Singapore Business Review found that 93% of Singaporean consumers are dissatisfied with online content providers. Their biggest grip was lag and slow loading times of high-quality video streams.

When a user’s viewing is interrupted by rebuffering, they are unlikely to persevere with the service. 26.6% of Singaporean viewers will abandon a stream after a single instance of rebuffering. Most users give the streaming service one chance; however, almost 40% of users will abandon the stream at the second instance of rebuffering.

This should send a strong signal to content streaming providers that their mission should be to provide the highest video and audio quality, without causing the video to rebuffer.

With a growing number of young Singaporeans using mobile devices to stream movies, TV shows and sporting events, this is an increasingly challenging task. Changes in bandwidth mean that the bitrate that can be supported on the device is constantly shifting. If the provider is unable to respond to network conditions promptly, playback will be interrupted.

 The arrival of 5G could and the increased adoption of edge cloud computing will help mitigate these challenges. However, with Singapore’s 5G network not due for arrival until next year, this is an issue content providers will no doubt be keen to address. Unless they can utilize real-time data to prevent playback interruption, problems will persist.

“Mobile is a prime platform for businesses to engage with consumers,” a Limelight Network spokesman told ASEAN Today, “it is therefore important for businesses to prioritise optimising their content for mobile delivery by ensuring that the most effective and adaptable formats are delivered to the consumer.” 

Sports fans are among the most aggravated

Singaporean sports fans are among the most dissatisfied with online streaming services. Online streams of sporting events are often delayed by some 30 seconds or more. This delay, in the hyperconnected world of social media, can mean the difference between jubilant exhilaration and a ruined viewing experience.

“Singaporeans enjoy live streaming global sporting events on their devices, but with the rise of social media usage, every second of delay can potentially ruin the game when online viewers learn about big plays from social media before seeing the action online,” said Edwin Koh, Director, Southeast Asia at Limelight Networks.

“Especially in the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the pressure is on for streaming providers to invest in video enabled edge services that deliver seamless user experiences in real-time.”

Moving forward, there are ample opportunities for content providers to expand their userbase. Traditional TV broadcasting cannot compete with online services which offer content on-demand across devices.

But an increasingly digital-savvy population expects more from online content providers. “online streaming providers face immense pressure to strike a balance between curating quality content, and addressing quality issues”, a spokesperson from Limelight Network told ASEAN Today. “This will be paramount to retaining their pool of subscribers who now have more options than ever before and no time to waste on buffering videos.”

It is up to the businesses to rise to these demands and provide quality, uninterrupted, live and prerecorded content across a variety of device types. The provider that finds the magic recipe that incorporates all of these key ingredients will find a welcoming audience for their product in Singapore.