YouTube is a popular OTT platform in Thailand. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)
Over-the-top (OTT) services contribute as much as 36 billion baht and 30,000 jobs to Thailand’s economy, a new report says.
The report was conducted by Thammasat University’s Consulting Networking and Coaching Center (CONC Thammasat) and the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an industry association for internet policy in Asia.
OTT services are described as any application or service over the internet, including text messaging and voice applications, video streaming services, social networks, e-commerce and fintech services.
The report examines the value that OTT platforms in online video have brought Thailand, such as consumers acquiring knowledge and skills that translate to more than 53,000 baht per person in income per year. Local content creators have new distribution and revenue channels that let them grow and reach wider audiences.
Suthikorn Kingkaew, director of CONC Thammasat and an author of the report, said the study demonstrates that OTT services have given people in Thailand access to knowledge and skills that have enabled them to build entrepreneurial and creative businesses.
The platforms also allow thousands of new entrepreneurs to gain direct access to audiences and create endless business opportunities, he said.
OTT platforms are creating tangible value to society and the economy, while supporting the nation’s Thailand 4.0 aspirations.
Mr Suthikorn said the study highlights how a supportive ecosystem is critical to ensure that OTT platforms continue to drive the innovation and creativity needed to grow Thailand’s knowledge-based economy.
The government should acknowledge the potential of such technologies and work together with industry associations and players to design policies that will position OTT platforms to benefit citizens and local entrepreneurs across the economy, he said.
Jeff Paine, managing director of the AIC, said the growth and competitiveness of Thailand hinges on the digital economy, requiring a smarter approach to regulation that ensures benefits to the economy and society.
Thailand has a leadership opportunity in the region, he said, and the AIC looks forward to continuing its dialogue with relevant agencies to promote well-informed policies.
The study reveals that a more supportive approach to regulation is needed to ensure benefits, making specific recommendations to be implemented through public and private partnerships:
Reviewing regulations that hinder innovation. Instead of applying existing regulations for traditional broadcasters to the OTT industry, any new policy should be based on a rule-by-rule analysis, as existing policies for traditional broadcasters fail to address the realities of new technologies, which are diverse in nature. Poor policy also risks removing the incentive for traditional players to innovate and compete with OTT platforms.
Developing best practice for self-regulation. It is critical to introduce regulations and amend laws only where specific issues cannot be first solved by self-regulation, given that prematurely introduced rules could stifle innovation. Self-regulation has proved to be the best way forward in addressing challenges in emerging, fast-moving industries. For effectiveness, OTT players, public agencies and other stakeholders should collaborate and enable the development of a set of principles to guide self-regulation.
Investing in the creative industry. Government agencies should create incentives for both foreign and local investors to partner with local content creators. For example, the Digital Economy Promotion Agency could extend its funding for creative content businesses to include new and existing content creators on OTT platforms. This would in turn create high-income jobs and encourage more competition within the Thai media industry.
Promoting digital literacy. Digital literacy, including digital security, is vital to ensure that people in Thailand can apply rational judgement and make healthy decisions in their selection and viewing of appropriate content.