Samsung to launch TV show rental service this year

Samsung to launch TV show rental service this year

A television-show rental service by Samsung will be available here in the third quarter of the year. Some media experts said the service could provide competition to existing video services, such as movie rentals from Apple's iTunes and telcos SingTel and StarHub. But this would depend on how good the shows are.

The South Korean electronics giant announced last night that its video service will offer the first episodes of TV shows for free. Users of the service, under the working title of Project Glued, can then rent the entire season for 30 days from US$6.50 (S$8).

Project Glued's shows would come mainly from the United States and Britain. At the opening of the All That Matters digital entertainment and media conference yesterday, Samsung showed Orphan Black, a Canadian science-fiction show, and Doll & Em, a British sitcom, on the service.

Samsung declined to say how many shows will be available. The service will be initially limited to mobile apps on Samsung phones and tablets, but a Web version that works on any computer as well as an app for Samsung's television sets are in the works.

Media Partners Asia analyst Aravind Venugopal said the video service could be a threat to pay-TV providers partly because Samsung has a "vast user base". Figures from research firm IDC showed that last year, Samsung was No. 1 in smartphone shipments to Singapore.

But he said this also depends on whether Samsung can get top-rated shows and local content.

Maybank Kim Eng analyst Gregory Yap said SingTel and StarHub could have an advantage over Samsung because "they have a comprehensive list of content and billing is easier with phone bills".

Research director Ilona Loo, 34, was interested in Samsung's offering as she could watch shows on the go.

"But having to wait for a whole season to be available will be a downside for me," she said.

Samsung said many shows on Project Glued will be a season late.

This article was published on May 21 in The Straits Times.

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