Samuel is an Indonesian graduate from National Taiwan University, studying economics. Fluent in Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian. His previous experience was in securities and banking for local financial institutions, but he has kept pace with current technology news and startup scene throughout the ASEAN region.
Taiwan has 3 big telecom companies, 2 smaller telecom companies and many other MVNOs, serving a population of 23 million people.
Internet usage in Taiwan is ubiquitous, and Taiwan’s digital life is relatively developed. However, the digital ecosystem in Taiwan is not the same as the ecosystem in the Southeast Asian region. In this article, we are going to take a look into some apps of choice for Taiwanese consumers in the realm of social media, online transportation, and food delivery service.
Internet users in Taiwan generally use Facebook as their main social media, with a growing number of users shifting their private profiles over to Instagram.
For forum-based discussion, the platform is fragmented depending on the topic at hand. For example, for discussion about electronic goods, mobile01 is the main place to go. Gamers flock to Bahamut to discuss everything about games and related topics.
However, PTT, a telnet BBS launched in 1995, is still one of the largest communities in Taiwan covering any topic, similar to Japan’s 2ch or the global 4chan in BBS form. Its impact is huge, generating many of the contents and topics currently in circulation in the Taiwanese parts of FB and Instagram, to the point that a Taiwanese movie was based on the board.
Moving on to other media, Taiwanese users generally use Youtube as their primary video source, similar to the US. However, more and more people are opting to use the video feature on Facebook. Similar to the current trend in the world, we see the internet moving to a more mobile environment with a more video-focused approach.
Lately, we have seen an uptick in the number of people trying to use Facebook Live to directly sell to consumers, similar to TV marketing but with added interactiveness with the audience. A potential customer would follow the link given by the broadcaster, or chat directly to buy the products. There have been a growing number of startups in Taiwan that are trying to support this part of e-commerce, working together with influencers and small merchants.
The above shows a new trend in the making, as the worlds of video, social, and e-commerce collide. However, traditional B2C e-commerce are still very strong with solid revenue numbers. Just counting the revenue of 3 public e-commerce companies (PCHome, momo and Kuo Brothers), all 3 add up to almost USD 3B.
Similar to Southeast Asia, there are also many merchants who are trying to make it through low-cost channels, mainly through social media (Facebook, Instagram) and chat-based applications. Some even sell on PTT or Facebook Marketplace, and do the transaction directly by bank transfer or through Shopee (for added security).
The first-choice messaging application in Taiwan is LINE. Out of 23 million people, LINE has about 21 million users in Taiwan, which approximately covers 91% of the country. As such, LINE has become a necessity of life in Taiwan, embedding itself into the fabric of everyday life. There are many theories about how LINE became successful in Taiwan, but a part of its early boom can be attributed to the attractiveness of stickers as a means to communicate, as it made chatting a bit less stiff. LINE increased its stickiness when they started releasing their own inhouse games in the same era where Facebook games were all the rage.
Besides their services, LINE has vigorously marketed its virtual point system, exchangeable as vouchers and products, or even cash in many merchants. A user can get LINE Points by using their payment services (LINE Pay), and they have made efforts to reach the population by working together with local banks to issue co-branded credit cards (CTBC Line Pay, Union Bank of Taiwan Line Points). LINE is also moving into the financial services sector after it was granted a virtual bank license in Taiwan, joining forces with local banks (including CTBC and Standard Chartered).
It is quite possible to think of LINE as a super-app for Taiwan, similar as to how Kakao and Naver are super-apps in Korea. As part of Naver, LINE can implement proven business models from its regions (including Japan, Thailand) and try to localize. LINE has already redesigned its UI in order to provide users with easier access to their services.
LINE has also expanded in Southeast Asia, notably Thailand. but in other Southeast Asian countries, LINE is losing ground to Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. That is in contrast with Taiwan, where LINE is unquestionably the messenger application of choice, to the point that work communication as well as customer service are being done on the platform.
The Taiwanese internet market has a few quirks that are different with Southeast Asia, and startups that are considering Taiwanese consumers as a target market should be mindful of the different local consumer preferences compared to Southeast Asia.
Ride-hailing apps such as Uber has had a rocky history in Taiwan, as they play cat-and-mouse games with the regulator, as the regulator first rejected their claim to be a purely tech company and required them to register as a transportation company. After a few back and forth, the government finally issued an ultimatum to register as a taxi company or pull out of Taiwan. As of October 1 this year, they operate as a taxi company in Taiwan.
One of the reasons Uber has been relatively successful in Taiwan is that besides pioneering the ability to call taxis from an app, the cars are usually cleaner, and that the drivers are usually more professional compared to a random taxi you hail on the streets.
The entrance of Uber into the market meant that the traditional heavyweight in the taxi industry, Taiwan Taxi (台灣大車隊), has had to adopt and provide a call-on-demand function on their application.
Another upstart, TaxiGo, started out as a chatbot on Messenger and LINE to call taxis. It originally worked with existing taxi drivers, but gradually developed into its own taxi company.
Taiwan has a culture of eating out, and many apartments in Taipei don’t include a kitchen at all. In the last few years, food delivery has been a very big battleground between new startups in Taiwan, starting from the now bankrupt Honestbee, Foodpanda, Uber Eats, as well as the newest competitor in town, Deliveroo. Besides international competitors, small local upstarts are also trying to make it in this crowded space, such as Yowoo. So far, Uber Eats, Foodpanda and Deliveroo has been the current leaders so far.
Compared to Grab and Gojek being the two giants in both transportation and food delivery in Southeast Asia, the transportation and food delivery part is largely fragmented. Different players exist in both areas, with the exception of Uber.
In general, there are still a couple of spaces left for international startups to exploit, as can be seen from the proliferation of LINE and overseas food delivery companies, but the key thing is for startups to localize into Taiwan. Another key thing is to think of Taiwan’s digital ecosystem as completely separate from China, as consumer preferences and habits differ in both countries. In this case, one can lump Taiwan in as another one of ASEAN’s many countries with different cultures and languages. As long as localization is done right and the services benefit consumers, Taiwanese consumers are also open to new solutions, and Taiwan can really be a nice cash cow for a startup who is willing to localize.
與競爭者相比，併購後 Disney 的淨利率仍遙遙領先同業，但本身獲利能力相關數據都下降。其中股東權益報酬率（ROE）除了受淨利潤微幅下跌影響，資產週轉率（asset turnover）從 0.6 降至 0.24 才是主因，可見 Disney 在併入 Fox 後的資產運用效率上仍須改善；而資本回報率（ROIC）則因總債務（debt）大增三倍跌至 0.05。
大型併購後企業的償債能力往往是投資人關注的項目。雖然 Disney 在各方面數字都沒有併購前好看，但和競爭者相比仍較為健康，特別是去年也同樣完成 USD 40B 併購英國媒體巨頭 Sky 的 Comcast。高利息覆蓋率（interest coverage ratio）也顯示出股東無需擔心其支付利息的能力。值得注意的是，雖然 Netflix 在短期償債能力最為優異（流動比率 current ratio 最高），但負債比率（debt ratio）因其習慣以發行長期債券的方式來融資而高達 0.8。淨利潤不到 Disney 一成但利息支出卻相近（去年總利息支出為 Disney 的 73%），可預期 Netflix 若也想以併購為擴張策略是有一定難度的。
Disney 發展 OTT 事業體現況
儘管手中握有好幾張王牌，Disney 在發展 OTT 上仍有不少挑戰。我們來看目前為止 Disney 在該事業體表現如何：
上圖為 2019 Q1~Q3 的財報，去年 3 月 Disney 宣布新增事業體 Direct-to-consumers and International（DTCI）來發展線上串流事業與全球市場，並將原先的 Consumer Products & Interactive Media 併入 Parks & Resorts 底下。今年三季以來合計已經虧損逾十億美元，主要投資包含去年四月推出的線上運動影音串流平台 ESPN+、即將推出的 Disney+ 以及串流服務技術，且在第二、三季度合併計入的 Hulu 也還在虧損。至於 Q3 營收大幅成長則是來自於併購 Fox 後 Fox 與國家地理的國際頻道。
綜觀整體事業，占比皆大於四成的 Media Networks 和 Parks, Experience, and Products 兩大事業體表現穩健，DTCI 的虧損對集團也還沒有太顯著的影響。值得注意的是， DTCI 虧損占營業收益的比重在過去三季來明顯上升，Hulu、ESPN+、併購 Fox 獲得的印度 OTT Hostar 與 Disney+ 也都還在營運早期甚至是籌備的階段，可預期短期內虧損還會上升。儘管在宣布要推出 Disney+ 時外界一致看好，但 OTT 產業的投資若持續拉低 EPS，勢必會影響股東對新事業體虧損的忍耐程度，屆時 Disney 將需面對來自市場的壓力。
本系列上篇從線上串流產業崛起開頭，到本篇分析了 Disney 發展 OTT 的手牌與現況，希望有讓讀者了解其優勢何在。有趣的是除了傳統媒體業，還有來自不同領域的企業都相繼加入戰局，像 Apple 和美國電信龍頭 AT&T。在下篇（也是最終回）我們將探討整個 OTT 產業的競爭，究竟誰會勝出？
註：Disney 系列原先只預計要分為上下篇，但和 Brandon、TP 討論完後覺得 OTT 平台的競爭局勢實在值得獨立出來做一篇分析，可以做更多有趣的預測和判斷。於是我的首次系列文章就這麼分為三部曲了…希望大家會喜歡！
成立近一個世紀的 Disney 自黑白動畫起家，版圖一步步擴張至遊樂園、廣播、電視與電影，打造出堅不可摧的迪士尼帝國。然而，網路的出現改變了消費者的觀看習慣，Netflix、Amazon Prime、Hulu 等數位影視串流平台異軍崛起，逐漸威脅傳統電子媒體產業。在競爭白熱化之下，Disney 今年稍早宣布要推出自家數位串流平台 Disney+，正式宣告加入網路串流戰局。本文從 Disney 的視角出發，本篇以財報分析 Disney 近幾年受到網路串流平台出現的影響，下篇將探討其加入戰局的優勢與前景。
儘管整體營收上升，但 affiliate fee 的成長其實是透過提高 7% 的 contractural rate 來減緩每年電視網訂閱用戶（subscribers）下降 2-3% 的衝擊。用戶數下降也反映在廣告曝光率（impression）上，其中又以有線電視的廣告收入下跌最多。而去年成長最亮眼的 TV/SVOD 其實就是 Disney 正積極發展中的 OTT 事業（從 FY19 開始被歸類於最新的事業體中），包含了將作品授權給美國第三大線上串流平台 Hulu 以及相關業務的併購，這部分我們下篇會談得更詳細。
根據 Statista 統計，美國付費電視台普及率（pay TV penetration rate）在近十年已從 88% 跌至 78%，而受訪者表示 OTT 是他們取消有線電視訂閱的主要因素。從整個娛樂媒體產業來看，PwC 於今年五月發表的 Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019–2023 中預測各別產業的複合成長率（見下圖四）。其中全球 TV/home video 產業為負成長，且美國是衰退最快速的市場，成長率為 -2.9%；相較之下，OTT 產業營收的複合成長率高達近 15%，整體產值將在五年內翻倍。
圖三、全球娛樂媒體產業 2019-2023 預估複合成長率（來源：PwC，基石創投整理）
綜合上述分析，可見 Disney 飽受 OTT 線上串流平台引發的剪線族威脅，更基於以下原因不得不做出轉變：
每年仰賴提高 contractural rate 並非永續維持成長的方式
OTT 市場成長快速且有向寡占發展的趨勢，Disney 應避免通路被少數者掌控的風險
實際上，Disney 並不是沒有察覺到外部環境的變動，甚至早在宣布 Disney+ 之前就開始數位串流的佈局。我們將在下篇中更深入的分析 Disney 在 OTT 發展上的優勢與前景。