The content, media & social market in Vietnam is bustling with a healthy number of players covering all possible parts of the ecosystem. As more people go online, and the habit of using online services is more entrenched, we think demand will continue to grow rapidly. There are opportunities for investment into existing players, for established international platforms to enter the market, as well as a place for novel ideas to be created. In short, there’s plenty of untapped demand.

The content, media & social market in Vietnam is bustling with a healthy number of players covering all possible parts of the ecosystem. As more people go online, and the habit of using online services is more entrenched, we think demand will continue to grow rapidly. There are opportunities for investment into existing players, for established international platforms to enter the market, as well as a place for novel ideas to be created. In short, there’s plenty of untapped demand.

Growing demand

Worldometers [1] estimated Vietnam’s population at 96.03 million as of February 22, 2018.The population is young, with median age of 30.9 years old. GDP per capita was $2,170 in 2016 according to World Bank’s statistics.[2]

According to Wearesocial’s Digital in 2018 report[3], as of January 2018, internet users account for 67% of the population, and 94% of the internet users use the internet every day for various purposes, with the most popular ones being using social network, which accounts for more than 30% of their time on the internet (2h37m out of 6h52m), and listening to streaming music, which accounts for 20% of their time (1h21m out of 6h52m)

Image 1: Time spent with media (Source: Wearesocial)

57% of the population are active social media users. The term has different meanings across platforms but generally it means someone has taken some action in the past 30 days. The number has grown by 20% since January 2017. 

Wearesocial observed a strange trend in Vietnam, that is a decrease in traffic from mobile and tablet.

Image 2: Web traffic by device (Source: Wearesocial)

Smartphone users account for 72% of the population, unchanged from last year. In addition, the speed of mobile networks saw a jump from 3,419 kbps to 20.33mbps.

Still, traffic from mobile phones have decreased by 31% and traffic from tablet devices decreased by 53%. Only 43% of the population use a laptop or desktop computer and yet total traffic from these devices accounts for 73%.

This is different from world trend, most other countries and for Vietnam in the previous years.

68% of internet users access the internet most often via smartphones, but mobile broadband (3G and 4G) use remains low, at 30% of total mobile connection.

A possible reason is the low quality of mobile broadband. According to the result of a survey of customer satisfaction with 4G LTE service in Vietnam, carried out by IDG, released in July 2017, only 43.5% of customers are satisfied or highly satisfied with the stability of connection in peak hours and 51.7% in non-peak hours. The figure for signal coverage and signal strength are 55.8% and 55.1%, respectively.[4]

Customers complain that 3G quality is bad, and when they switch to 4G it’s even worse [5]

Image 3: Mobile activities (source: Wearesocial)

The most popular activity on mobile devices is watching videos, with slightly more than half of the population watching videos on mobile. Using mobile messengers and playing games follows with 46% and 44%. Mobile map service usage is currently quite low (37%), with mobile banking even lower (23%).

Image 4: Breakdown of Facebook users (Source: Wearesocial)

Judging by this graph on profile of Facebook users, from 2017 to 2018, the percentage of users in the under 25 have decreased, while user aged between 25 and 65 have all increased.

There is clearly a trend of younger users moving away from Facebook to other platforms.

As smartphone and tablet ownership increased in Vietnam, another age group of Internet users that has also grown is children under 13.

Image 5: Children playing on a smartphone (photo source: thegioididong.com)

Many parents in Vietnam employ smartphones and tablets as babysitters. [6]

According to Socialblade’s ranking, as retrieved on February 14, 2018, three out of the top 10 Youtube channels in Vietnam are for children.

Image 6: Socialblade’s ranking (retrieved on February 14, 2018)[7]

POPS Kids, Tho Nguyen, KN Channel are for children.

Image 7: Youtuber NTN Vlogs and his fans, all under 13 (photo source: GenK)[8]

It seems that there are currently not a lot of services catered to this group of users. Some parents complained that they found out only recently that on Youtube there are videos with names of superheroes and Disney characters in the titles that are actually not for children, but which their children have watched a large amount of.[9]

Popular websites

Facebook permeates all aspects of life in Vietnam. According to Similarweb’s ranking of top websites, Facebook is the 2nd most popular website in terms of traffic and time per visit and ranks first in number of pages per visit.

Image 8: Similarweb’s ranking of top websites in Vietnam (Source: Wearesocial)

Facebook is also widely used as tool for companies to connect with their customers. Big brands like CGV Cinemas Vietnam and FPT Shop have about 2.5 million and 2.2 million likes and follows each on Facebook.

Some companies, mostly SMEs, sell their products through their page. Also, in Vietnam, C2C e-commerce happens mostly on Facebook. (see our report on e-commerce).  

Access to Facebook is not always possible in Vietnam. If one searches “Facebook block Vietnam” in Google, there will be many results about how to bypass these blocks.

In April 2017, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management, had a meeting with Truong Minh Tuan, Vietnam’s Minister of Information and Communication. The government published a statement on its website saying that Facebook “is committed to working with the authority to prevent the presence of news that is “bad, poisonous, and violating Vietnamese regulations” on Facebook and will set up a separate channel to cooperate more directly and effectively with Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communication.” [10]

The second most popular website in the ‘social’ category is Zing.vn. Zing.vn actually has four services: news (news.zing.vn), music streaming (mp3.zing.vn), TV streaming (tv.zing.vn) and social network (me.zing.vn). They all have app versions.

Image 9: me.zing.vn interface

me.zing.vn allows one to post, add photo and link to post, and post to Facebook. One can also chat with friends, and go to the app store and play the web games using tokens that you top up using many payment websites and apps including pay.zing.vn and ZaloPay, other products of VNG. A game in the “hot” category has about 20,000 plays.

Homegrown search engine Coc Coc is the 8th most popular website in Vietnam.  

Image 10: Browser and search engine Coc Coc (the Vietnamese spelling of “knock knock”) [11]

The Coc Coc browser boasts “automatic adding of tone marks”, “faster download” and “always able to access Facebook.” (The last item is due to intermittent blocking of Facebook in Vietnam.) It reported a little less than 24 million users as of February 6, 2017.

The search engine has a “web” menu that returns only a portion of the results that Google would give with the same keyword. “image,” “news” and more are redirected to Google. The map function only covers Vietnam.

Coc Coc was launched in 2013. In 2015 the company announced it had received $14 million investment from German company Hubert Berda Media.[12] In 2017 the browser introduced price comparison, rating, and other e-commerce relevant features. [13]

Content

The top Google search queries give a peek into what’s on the mind of Vietnamese.

Image 11: Top Google search queries in 2017 (Source: Wearesocial)

From top to bottom: Movies, Facebook, newspaper, Northern lotto, Youtube, Google, football, music, lotto , 24h (name of news site 24h.com.vn), Southern lotto, translate, lotto (in Vietnamese spelling), news, games, Gmail, watch movies, fb (the shorthand for Facebook), Zing (music streaming, news and social network site), and Google Translate.

Movies as the most popular search term is searched for overwhelmingly more often than the second most popular that is Facebook.

Besides searching for movies, going to Facebook, and reading news, they listen to music, watch videos, watch football matches, and look for lottery results.

News

Among the most popular websites in Vietnam are three homegrown news sites that are all part of a larger ecosystem of online services. vnexpress.net is owned by FPT, news.zing.vn by VNG and kenh14.vn owned by VCCorp. The first two are general news while the third one is focused on entertainment.

Image 12: VNG’s ecosystem (source: company website)[14]

 

Image 13: VCCorp’s ecosystem (source: company’s website [15])

Besides news, VCCorp is also involved in e-commerce and has a forum for stock investors. Other products concern web game, mobile advertising and a social network for karaoke enthusiasts

 Image 14: FPT’s media ecosystem (Source: company’s website [16])

Conglomerate FPT operates in technology, telecommunications, technology product retail and distribution. Above is only the media operation. Other well-known products include electronic retail chain FPTShop, B2B2C site Sendo and payment solution Senpay.

Music streaming

Two most popular music streaming apps in Vietnam are Zing MP3 and nhaccuatui. On both platforms, both Vietnamese artists and international artists are available. However, there are artists that are available on Zing MP3 but not on nhaccuatui.

With a free account, users can comment, submit lyrics and upload their cover of songs. A Zing MP3 account, free or paid, requires users to have the Zalo app installed.

Image 15: Zing MP3 and nhaccuatui’s access

A VIP account costs VND30,000 ($1.32) a month for both services. Users can download, as in “listen to songs without an internet connection through the app”, but if they unsubscribe they won’t be able to.

Vietnamese mobile network operators used to offer 3G and 4G packages that allow access to all Zing services, nhaccuatui, Facebook and Youtube at preferential price compared to a standard data package but now they have stopped offering the Facebook and Youtube packages. The Zing and nhaccuatui packages are still available.

Both Zing MP3 and nhaccuatui have web versions.

Video streaming

Domestic and foreign players are present in Vietnam. Netflix launched in Vietnam in January 2016, at the same time of the launch of domestic player Fim+, which is a subsidiary of Vietnamese film studio and distributor and movie theatre chain operator Galaxy. K+, a joint venture between national television service provider VTV and French TV provider Canal +, allowed subscribers to view movies on demand online and with an app in September 2016. iflix was launched in February 2017.

Fim+ charges VND30,000 ($1.4) a month for the basic account with limited movie offering while Netflix charges VND180,000 ($8.4) a month for the basic account. iflix charges about $2.5 a month with a discount for a year-long subscription, similar to the scheme in other countries where it is present. 

Zing and nhaccuatui, the two biggest players in music streaming, also offer TV show and movie streaming with Vietnamese subtitles. Similarly to their music offering, users can watch at low quality for free with ads, and a VIP account will allow high quality without ads. At the moment the selection is limited as the two only have partnerships with a few TV Korean and Chinese TV companies.

Games  

According to the GMGC Games Whitebook published by Newzoo, a provider of market intelligence covering the global games, esports, and mobile markets, in 2016, mobile game revenue in Vietnam was $136 million with a CAGR for the 2015-2019 period estimated at +55.3%. [17]

The most popular games in AppAnnie’s ranking are either foreign or localised. None of them are developed by Vietnamese studios.

Messenger apps

Most popular OTT apps in Vietnam are Facebook Messenger and Zalo.

As of December 2017, as reported by the South China Morning Post, Zalo has 35 million users.[18]

Image 16: Top 10 free apps in Vietnam in iOS store (left) and Google Play (right) (retrieved from Appannie on February 22, 2018)

 

 Policy and Regulations for content and social media

Decree 72/2013/ND-CP issued by the government in 2013 regulates the operation of all individuals and organisations involved in the management, provision, and usage of internet service and online information and games. 

According to the decree, the government encourages the use of Internet in all socioeconomic activities especially education, healthcare, technology and science in order to increase productivity, as well as encourages the development of content and apps in Vietnamese.

Prohibited behaviours include using the internet to subvert the government, harm national security and order, harm national unity, promote war, terrorism, and ethnic, race, religion conflicts, provoke violence and other behaviors that are against Vietnamese traditions and customs, reveal government, military, security, economic secrets as defined by the law, promote, sell and buy illegal goods and services, spread banned news articles, literature and art.[19]

Our opinion

We think demand for content will grow more together with the number of internet users.

Vietnamese do not have the habit of paying for their content yet, as evidenced in the fact that all the biggest music and video streaming services provide free streaming. That forces players to explore other revenue options, and we believe the tipping point of online advertising will come sooner or later.

Players that can impress with good translation, high quality (4K), low price, or integrated service with other service in their ecosystem, will capture the market.

 

References:

[1]http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/vietnam-population/

[2]https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD?locations=VN&order=wbapi_data_valu

[3]https://www.slideshare.net/wearesocial/digital-in-2018-in-southeast-asia-part-1-northwest-86866386

[4]http://4gsummit.vn/docs/2017/K2_4G_Vietnam_report_TamLe.pdf

[5]https://tuoitre.vn/nha-mang-dua-giam-cuoc-4g-khach-hang-to-khong-nhu-quang-cao-1369051.htm

[6]https://www.thegioididong.com/tin-tuc/tre-em-viet-nam-chi-an-com-va-di-ngu-khi-duoc-dung-smartphone-772600

[7]https://socialblade.com/youtube/top/country/vn/mostsubscribed

[8]http://genk.vn/lam-video-cho-tre-em-nghe-kiem-tram-trieu-thang-cua-youtuber-viet-20170522192635915.chn

[9]http://baophapluat.vn/hi-tech/noi-dung-phan-cam-tren-kenh-youtube-danh-cho-tre-em-chi-phat-thoi-khong-du-339387.html

[10]http://baochinhphu.vn/Khoa-hoc-Cong-nghe/Facebook-cam-ket-ngan-chan-thong-tin-vi-pham-phap-luat-Viet-Nam/304408.vgp

[11]http://coccoc.com/

[12]]https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/coc-coc-receives-14m-hubert-burda-media-2746/

[13]https://www.thegioididong.com/tin-tuc/trinh-duyet-coc-coc-bo-sung-tinh-nang-so-sanh-gia-khi-mua-sam-online-950688

[14]https://www.vng.com.vn

[15]https://vccorp.vn

[16]https://fpt.com.vn

[17]https://newzoo.com/insights/trend-reports/newzoo-and-gmgc-release-the-mobile-games-whitebook-for-2017/

[18]http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/business/article/2124113/how-vietnams-answer-whatsapp-zalo-began-hack

[19]http://moj.gov.vn/vbpq/lists/vn%20bn%20php%20lut/view_detail.aspx?itemid=28618

 

 

Thanks for reading The Low Down, insight and inside knowledge from the team at Momentum Works. If you’d like to get in touch with us about any issues discussed in our blog, please drop us an email at hello@mworks.asia and let us know how we can help.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.

 

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