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Thailand’s digital content industry expected to soar

Thailand’s digital content industry is expected to surpass THB30 billion in value this year, driven by the rise in demand as users spend more time online in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The President of the Digital Content Association of Thailand stated that in the pre-COVID period, Thailand’s digital content industry grew at least 10% a year, with the latest survey showing it was valued at THB25 billion in 2017. However, it’s expected to grow by over THB30 billion in 2020 despite the pandemic, as demand for digital content has surged, particularly in the entertainment segment, due to the longer time spent online in the new normal.

The President of the Digital Content Association of Thailand made these statements on 19 August 2020 after the launch of the Bangkok International Digital Content Festival, an annual event. Held in an online format this year, the festival featured a virtual reality exhibition and online business matching. Visitors were able to access the virtual exhibition at this seventh edition of the festival through the website.

The event also features online business matching, which is expected to see deals worth THB900 million this year, up from THB400 million in 2019. Additionally, the festival ushers in online seminars through a system supported by the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau. The digital content industry plays an important role in driving the country’s economy; Japan, South Korea and China export digital content as a way to boost economic growth.

Thai digital content, ranging from characters, games, animation to visual effects and e-learning, can help promote Thai identity and demonstrate Thai people’s ability to create content that can boost the country’s economic value. The official stated that the character business, worth THB2 billion, has taken a hit from the pandemic, hindering licence sales.

The Deputy Director of the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), which jointly organised the event, stated that the download of online games surged 20% in the first quarter of this year from the same period last year, citing Kasikorn Research Center. The country’s animation business is expected to grow 5% over the next five years. Depa allotted THB30 million to assist small and medium-sized enterprises, including digital content providers, that are facing liquidity problems.

OpenGov Asia previously reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has irreversibly impacted and changed the world as we know it.

Social distancing has made us much more dependent on technology, and new health techniques highlight the power of 5G, cloud technology and artificial intelligence, the President of the Carrier Business Group of the Asia Pacific branch of a Chinese multinational technology company stated. Overall, ICT has played an important role in battling COVID-19, and it will continue to factor in economic recovery in the new normal.

In some cases, proactive and cooperative initiatives have enabled governments and operators to aggressively build out telecom infrastructure before and during COVID-19, easily absorbing this increase in demand on infrastructure. Thailand, which is striving to become the region’s digital technology leader, has also taken a very aggressive approach towards both mobile and fixed broadband development.

To stimulate the 5G development and alleviate some of the investment required for operators, the Thai government has introduced flexible payment terms that allow 700 MHz and 2600 MHz licenses to be paid over ten years. In addition to long-term planning well underway, Thailand has also proactively accommodated the needs of users dealing with social distancing and financial uncertainty with additional support for users including providing upgrades of FTTH services to 100Mbps and xDSL services to maximum capacity.

Policies like this have allowed the country to easily accommodate the change in digital dynamics brought on by COVID-19 and these early investments will also better position the economy for faster recovery post-pandemic.

Zooming out, the ASEAN region is predicted to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, economic entities in Asia. Many countries are pushing hard to secure the leading position in digital transformation, and while the title is still for the taking, 5G will help all ASEAN nations move from predominantly 2C-focused mobile broadband business models to 2B. This will be paramount for digital transformation in many vertical industries including healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, logistics and more.

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