As nations built up their telecom capabilities, Myanmar’s telecom sector remained virtually untapped for years. As recently as five years ago, the government liberalised this sector, and the country witnessed its telecom boom.
Myanmar is now a prospect for international telecoms firms, mainly due to the rapid penetration of mobile and mobile broadband services. The number of consumers have also increased. Telenor’s 2018 report suggests that Myanmar’s SIM penetration is more than 105% percent, of which, 80% are attached to a smartphone. However, the country’s unique mobile subscriber rate stands at 50%, and this indicates good growth potential.
As a result of Myanmar’s telecom transformation, content consumption has significantly increased across the country. Sensing telecom’s massive growth potential, local content providers are now under pressure to quickly digitize their content in order to keep pace. Added to this, they now face growing competition from the international market.
Furthermore, in a country with more than 60% residing in rural areas the scope for increase in digitization is immense. While smartphone penetration in Myanmar is expected to grow by a meagre 2 percentage point from 74% in 2019 to 76% in 2023, the mobile internet users are expected to grow from 77% to 89% during the same period. This further substantiates the tremendous growth opportunity for digital services for the small screen.
On the consumption patterns side of things, Myanmar is a country with almost equal distribution of male (45%) and female (51%) population and almost equal spread of population in various age groups as well. But the variance within demographics of Myanmar for content and digital services preferences as well in contrast to global preferences, has poised a unique opportunity to cater to these varying needs and preferences. While global trend suggests women prefer watching online video on smartphone more than men, Myanmar women lack behind this global trend. Their specific needs must be identified and catered to. Some of the unique preferences for various age groups are as below:
Females in age group
15 to 25 years
46-60 & above 60
·Rarely have access to smartphones
·Strategy Games – for Motivation on winning
·Knowledge & Learning
·Know How Videos like cooking videos
·Chatting and socializing
·Health and Fitness
·Learning/How to videos/ How to use smartphones and internet
·Utility Apps and Mobile phone features
·Translation from English to Burmese
Due to a developing telecom infrastructure, Myanmar’s recent reforms have triggered customer awareness and security challenges. In addition to these, there are concerns around pricing for standard mobile services and VAS. These challenges stand stubbornly at the forefront of digital innovations yet to materialize. If not addressed at the root, they can significantly delay the industry’s growth.
Need of the Hour
Content and Service Providers, in their attempts to build new audiences in Myanmar’s emerging market, should focus on delivering highly personalized, seamless, cross-device content experiences to their consumers. Companies must be able to develop localized content, and keep it as the foundation of their rich content experience. Simply put, they need to strategize and develop content specifically tailored for Myanmar’s new audience.
Covid-19 has forced the convergence of industries worldwide. Education is one sector that is gradually spreading its roots in digital media during the pandemic. This is a clear indicator that media firms need to include educational content as part of their digital roadmap in Myanmar. Using the right technology and skills, companies need to digitize educational content and promote m-learning.
Apart from content creation and distribution, it is crucial for the Content Owners to establish stringent intellectual property rights with the government’s assistance. This move will help protect the rights of content creators and publishers, since the country’s digital media is still in its nascent stages.
To cater to this ecosystem of wide spectrum where a variety of Digital services are poised to increase internet usage on one hand to the need to know how to use features of smartphones on the other hand; digital players need to strengthen various building blocks that can make or break this ecosystem. Technology platform, distribution channel & partnerships, marketing, content and purchase/payment mechanism are the various levers to get this ecosystem rolling.
It is also equally important to protect the consumers’ privacy and freedom of choice while focusing of increased consumption and penetration. A robust platform overlooking the entire ecosystem so as to prevent fraud, manage customer consent, track copyright violations, and aid personalization of content offerings across genre and services will benefit the ecosystem in both, the short and long term. All these will lead the way for digitization and satisfy the varying needs for content of Myanmar users.
The Way Ahead
In years to come, 5G is expected to transform the telecom sector worldwide. Media companies focusing on Myanmar’s growing consumer base will be able to capitalize this opportunity. The country presents a unique environment for digital content and services. 5G’s implementation will boost the country’s digital economy, given the right conditions.