If you don’t want the bundled mio TV or StarHub cable when you sign up for fibre broadband in Singapore, there’s a new online TV offering from upstart challenger Viewqwest this week – the popular PPTV online TV service from China.
Folks who sign up for Viewqwest’s Freedom VPN plan will get “VIP access” to the PPTV service, which streams thousands of popular Asian drama serials and some Hollywood movies.
Using the virtual private networking (VPN) offered by the fibre broadband service, users get to enjoy the programming as if they are in China. On the TV buff’s menu: 200,000 licensed films and teleplays.
Non-Viewqwest users here can also view PPTV on their PCs and tablets, but Viewqwest says its tie-up with the China player means its programmes are smoothly streamed and don’t come with annoying advertisements that pop up from time to time.
The move by one of Singapore’s new home broadband players will rile its bigger rivals. Such services offer a way to view TV programmes without signing on to traditional pay-TV services from SingTel or StarHub.
Last year, Viewqwest marketed the VPN service as one that hooked up couch potatoes here to American online TV services like Netflix, which charge a low US$7.99 a month for thousands of TV programmes.
But this time, its tie-up with PPTV could attract criticisms of online piracy. In 2011, PPTV was identified among 18 video sites by the National Copyright Administration of China for allegedly providing a wide variety of pirated content.
The PPTV service, however, is among the most popular in China. The company has also burnished its reputation in August 2012 by launching an Asian online TV service with Microsoft’s Internet technology. In 2011, it received a substantial investment from Japanese telecom operator Softbank.
Viewqwest too will stress that it provides only licensed content, especially in Singapore, where the government has been keen to market as a secure hub for Internet data.
The Freedom VPN service, going for S$69.90 a month, will come with the PPTV service and offer 100Mbps downloads. It is likely to attract folks who have been watching online streams of Chinese TV programmes.