Theatre actor Munah Bagharib’s rehearsal-packed days mean she only gets to unwind to her favourite TV shows in the dead of the night. “And luckily, these days I can,” said the 31-year-old, who admits to having “horrible sleeping habits” as a result of her long work hours.
“More frequently than not, you will find me watching something on my laptop at 3am, while chowing down a box of 20-piece nuggets,” she said unabashedly. “In the past, I would not be able to catch my favourite shows at such odd hours!”
Munah's TV watching habit is not unique, and certainly not among millennials. An inaugural survey conducted by the Media Development Authority to track the population's viewing habits found that online streaming of movies and shows has become common in Singapore, with the highest viewership among millennials.
Many appreciate the ability to watch content on-demand, without being at the mercy of rigid schedules and programming. The diverse content options that come with the increasing availability of over-the-top (OTT) video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and HBO Go are also appealing to today’s consumers.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE
As Munah binges on Black Mirror in her home at Tampines, on the other end of Singapore, Yen Wong, 38, is halfway through the first season of La Casa De Las Flores, a steamy Mexican drama full of romance, betrayal and family feuds.
“Streaming services have completely changed my appetite for movies and shows,” said Wong, a senior lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic. “Nowadays, I have the option of searching for new and interesting programmes from the world over, and watch these without being interrupted by bandwidth issues.”
Wong’s favourites? Shows from Europe and India, which he finds refreshing and true-to-life — so much so that he can sometimes spend up to 15 hours a week watching them.
“Things are so different from when I was growing up,” said Wong. “Back then, we had to watch what broadcasters thought we would enjoy such as Channel 8’s drama serial The Unbeatables. Full disclosure, I enjoyed it very much, but now, we have more choices and can decide what to watch for ourselves.”
Another perk of OTT video services is of course the ability to binge watch, which Munah is happily guilty of. “When watching TV, I hate being left with a cliffhanger and having to wait the following week for the suspense to ease,” she said.
“I was really into popular ’90s sitcom FRIENDS and got really invested in each character, so it was annoying to have to wait to find out who the father of Rachel’s baby was,” she explained, referring to one of the series’ more compelling plot points involving its main character.
In contrast, someone watching Stranger Things on Netflix could discover what happened to its main protagonist with psychokinetic abilities, Eleven, pretty quickly, if they watch all eight episodes of season one in a single sitting.
Consumers seem to prefer it this way. Since its launch, Netflix has grown to over 100 million subscribers in more than 190 countries.
Probably best of all, the video quality during streaming is often uncompromised and the experience seamless. Said Munah: “I don’t need to wait much, if at all, for a 22-minute, crystal clear show to load. What’s there to complain?”
WHY STREAMING IS BETTER WITH SINGTEL
1. It’s fast: Based on the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) IMconnected Report, Singtel’s mobile network is the fastest in Singapore. The telco also boasted Asia’s fastest LTE speeds last September, notching 1.5Gbps, said Director of Singtel’s Radio Network Quality arm Edmund Quek. “We are constantly investing in innovative technologies to boost network speeds to give our customers the best network experience,” he said.
2. It’s stable: You know the feeling — you’re watching a video on your phone while on the MRT, hoping it doesn’t glitch? Singtel’s engineers combat this by investigating and analysing areas with high traffic load such as in MRT train tunnels and popular shopping malls like ION Orchard and VivoCity, as well as areas with weak coverage such as HDB flats located on lower floors. They will then design and plan for coverage enhancement and expand mobile capacity in those locations.
3. It’s future-ready: Named Asia’s Best Mobile Carrier by Telecom Asia in 2018, Singtel is piloting 5G network in Singapore in partnership with Ericsson. Singtel strives to be ahead of the streaming game by continually improving its mobile service game, using network analytics and customer insights to design, plan and optimise its network.