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Streaming service Hooq files for liquidation

Manish Singh
BRAZIL - 2019/07/22: In this photo illustration a HOOQ logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

On-demand video streaming service Hooq said on Friday it has filed for liquidation after it failed to grow rapidly and cover its increasing operating costs.

Hooq Digital, a joint venture among Singapore telecom group Singtel (majority owner), Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros Entertainment, said the company sailed through “significant structural changes” in the on-demand video streaming market for five years but is now struggling to provide sustainable returns to investors.

"Global and local content providers are increasingly going direct, the cost of content remains high, and emerging-market consumers' willingness to pay has increased only gradually amid an increasing array of choices," a Hooq spokesperson said in a statement.

"Because of these changes, a viable business model for an independent, OTT distribution platform has become increasingly challenged. As a result, HOOQ has not been able to grow sufficiently to provide sustainable returns nor cover escalating content costs and the continuous operating costs of an independent OTT distribution platform," the spokesperson added.

The Singapore-headquartered firm said it has not received any new funds from new or existing investors. According to Crunchbase, Hooq has raised $95 million to date, including $70 million the three aforementioned giants pumped into it in 2015.

The company will hold a meeting with its shareholders and creditors on April 13. In an exchange filing, Singtel said Hooq’s liquidation won’t have any material impact on its business.

HOOQ has amassed 80 million users in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines. The company counted India, where it entered into a partnership with Disney’s Hotstar in 2018, as its biggest market. The company also maintains a partnership with ride-hailing giant Grab to supply content in its cab.

The disclosure from Hooq comes as a surprise as just two months ago it was talking about its plans to expand its footprint in the nations where it operates. In an interview with Slator, Yvan Hennecart, Head of Localization at HOOQ, said the company was working to expand its catalog with local content and add 100 original titles this year.

"Our focus is mostly on localization of entertainment content; whether it is subtitling or dubbing, we are constantly looking to bring more content to our viewers faster. My role also expands to localization of our platform and any type of collateral information that helps create a unique experience for our users,” he told the outlet.