Vietnam is the next promising frontier for U.S. exports of broadcasting equipment and services.
The Government of Vietnam (GVN) has set forth a roadmap to digitalize broadcasting networks in the country by 2020, and the broadcasting market is forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% through 2015. With a population of 92 million in 22 million households and per capita income of $1,300+ (2011 estimate), Vietnam has no shortage of promising indicators: The industry’s annual market revenue in 2011 reached $1.5 billion; and industry experts see it among the world’s fastest-growing entertainment and media markets, projecting it will exceed US$2 billion and $4 billion by 2013 and 2017, respectively.
Vietnam’s broadcasting sector is divided into 2 sections: radio and television. Television has non-pay TV (public channels) and pay TV (commercial channels) sub-sections.
Vietnam’s major broadcasting buyers are categorized into five groups: (i) broadcasting content providers, (ii) agents for foreign TV channels, (iii) editors and translators, (iv) broadcasting service providers, and (v) broadcasting network infrastructure providers. Technology used in the pay TV sector in Vietnam includes cable TV (e.g. analog, digital or IPTV), digital terrestrial TV (e.g. DVB-T), direct-to-home (DTH) and mobile TV.
As with the rest of the world, Vietnam is going through a trend of technology convergence in the IT, telecommunications and broadcasting industries. Vietnam’s telecommunications companies tend to operate in the broadcasting subsector and broadcasters integrate telecommunications technology in their services.
Many U.S. broadcasting hardware suppliers such as Harris, Broadcom, Sigma Designs, Harmonic, and others have been successfully doing business in Vietnam for many years. U.S. service providers such as American channels across all genres including movie channels, news channels, general entertainment channels, factual channels, sports channels and kid channels are present in Vietnam nowadays. Major U.S. channels, including HBO, Star Movies, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, National Geographic, the Disney Channel, Discovery, MTV, and Cartoon Network, amongst others, are broadcasted via commercial channels in Vietnam.
Even during the global economic downturn, to meet the increasing market demand, Vietnamese major broadcasters have continued to make big investments in the sector. U.S. exporters of broadcasting equipment, services and content may find potential business development opportunities with the buyers in Vietnam.
Vietnam has no independent national broadcasting regulator. Vietnam’s broadcasting subsector operates under the management and supervision of Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC), and more specifically, the MIC’s Authority for Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI). Broadcasting operations are also under the direction of the Communist Party of Vietnam’s Central Propaganda Department. Other GVN agencies are involved in regulation of content and advertising, and in setting fees for TV licences.
The broadcasting industry in Vietnam is developing in-step with the rest of the world. Vietnam previously had only ground wave broadcasting for broadcasting media. In recent years, cable broadcasting and digital broadcasting have become available in the country. The rapid growth in Vietnam’s broadcasting is a trend that the Government of Vietnam as well as foreign companies want to take part in.
Vietnam’s broadcasting subsector has been developing and is in the process of switching from analog technology to digital technology by 2020. Over the next 5 years, Vietnam can potentially become one of the leading countries in expanding the media and communication market with growth rate will be 17%. According to Vietnam’s master plan for development of the radio and television broadcasting sector, the broadcasting sector will have 30-40% pay TV households with more than 6.4 million users by 2015. These numbers are expected to increase to 60-70% household with 14.2 million users by 2020. Vietnam’s broadcasting sector is expected to contribute 2% to the country’s GDP and reach $4 billion in size by 2017.
Vietnam’s radio broadcasting mainly serves political and educational purposes. Radio programming remains popular in Vietnam’s rural, remote areas. Apart from public radio channels like “Voice of Vietnam (VOV), and “Transportation”, which provides traffic updates for drivers, radio listenership is falling in Vietnam’s two largest cities, i.e. Hanoi and HCMC. Radio advertising volume is extremely low relative to TV and print media. But U.S. radio broadcasting equipment is fairly popular in Vietnam. Many U.S. radio broadcasting equipment manufacturers like Harris have been strongly positioning their presence in this subsector.
TV is the most effective way to reach a broad audience with 92% of the Vietnamese population owning TVs. Of this group, 43% access via cable and 18% access via digital (satellite). Advertising across all media in Vietnam has grown 24% in the recent two years with the vast majority of those budgets allocated to TV. Television is the preferred vehicle for advertisers, accounting for 80% of the entire ad market in 2011.
In the non-pay TV subsector, the State-run Vietnam Television (VTV) is the most prestigious studio in Vietnam. It is watched by millions of people in Vietnam. VTV is headquartered in Hanoi and they have many branches in all provinces and cities of Vietnam. VTV has total 7 channels, namely: VTV1, VTV2, VTV3, VTV4, VTV5, VTV6 and VTV9. Each channel has specific content. Of these channels, VTV3 is the most popular channel with the highest viewer ratings for its numerous general entertainment programs. The second famous channel is VTV1 with politics and news. VTV4 is mainly focuses on serving overseas Vietnamese in the world.
Besides ground wave broadcasting, Vietnam is using cable and digital. More and more people in Vietnam are switching from free broadcasting into pay TV. Consequently, the market sees strong competition among television broadcasters. Vietnam's pay-TV sector is one of the fastest developing markets in the Asia Pacific region. Vietnam’s pay TV market is seeing double-digit growth in the number of pay TV channels available in large cities. It is also posting impressive subscriber growth, an expanding supply of program content and a surge in advertising revenue. From 2004 to 2011, growth in Vietnam’s pay TV subsector exploded to 3.7 million subscribers.
Although television remains the dominant medium in this country where the average person watches 3-4 hours per day, digital media is rapidly growing in Vietnam. Consumers watch popular TV channels and listen to radios online via Internet. As of June 2012, Vietnam has over 31 million users (equivalent to a 35.4% of population) connected to the Internet; including 4.3 million broadband subscribers. Vietnam’s total international and domestic connection bandwidth are 310,921 Mbps and 404,936 Mbps respectively. In 2011, Vietnam ranked as the 29th largest Facebook users in the world with over 6.3 million accounts. However, Internet access to Facebook is unstable despite the fact that no government agency admits to blocking this social network. After tireless advocacy by foreign governments and business communities, it Is now much easier to access Facebook than a couple of years ago.