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“Offline Viewing” is the real deal

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If you can watch an episode of Nisekoi that is cached in your phone even without a working data connection all the time, that is a blissful thing in itself. [Nisekoi © 古味直志/集英社・アニプレックス・シャフト・MBS. Deremoe Composite]

Just in time for the iflix event that I’ve attended for Deremoe, here’s a narrative on why “Offline Viewing” is a win-win situation for content providers and distributors. You will know more of what I think of Offline Viewing as you read further.

Anime Pilipinas (May 29, 2015) posted their Editorial on showing anime on late-night time slots, where they said this:

“[…] There may be online streaming sites available, whether it is for Japanese anime or other shows, but the current goal of these platforms, which is also known as Over-the-top (OTT) platforms, is either to offer catch-up viewing or a second screen experience to current viewers.

Frankly, we don’t blame them as it is reported that the Philippines has the second worst internet speed in the region, that is why television is still the preferred medium of choice of the masses for entertainment and information. […]”

That was three months ago. Between the time when that editorial was posted and the time you will be seeing this, we will have iflix and HOOQ competing against each other — and look, they are set to provide content from GMA Network soon, which means that GMA is ready to compete with ABS-CBN’s iWanTV service.

This gives me the idea of fully supporting Over-the-top Technology, but we both agree that the country’s internet infrastructure is sh*t. I have to get content on a faster connection just to see it offline.

Enter offline viewing. Basically, being able to watch shows even when we’re not connected, and all we need is to get the content first. This does not require us to be connected all the time, and it’s great for the likes of yours truly who watch videos during his daily commute.

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We already saw this trend happening in 2012, when we wrote about Migo. Migo is a service where you can get content from Viacom, GMA and even Gonzo (Chrno Crusade) for a minimum price of ₱7.00 per episode. The downside of this is that (1) their technology limits them to just serve content via kiosks set up in different places, (2) you have to remove your SD / Micro SD card and put it in the kiosk before you can get content.

Al has provided suggestions before on how Migo could survive, such as creating an online store and developing for smartphones. We assume that they weren’t able to survive as their last post on Facebook is dated March 2014. I am trying to reach them as of the moment, and I’ll give you updates once we get their response.

Does both services support offline viewing? iflix said they are still working on it.

After Migo, we now have HOOQ and iflix. As we all know, PLDT invests on iflix and Globe Telecom invests on HOOQ, but they did something that Migo wasn’t able to do during its time — make an online catalog where people can get their content and make Android and iOS applications, alongside the integration of offline viewing. Just to let you know, HOOQ already has it, and iflix will be providing that soon enough.

Screenshots of HOOQ’s catalogue with Aniplus content on its starting days.

Now that both of these services has already connected with Aniplus, we should now enjoy its offerings, including some of the titles that has been aired this year. This is a win-win situation to those who would like to enjoy anime in the most legit way and to the content providers and distributors which I thank for investing in the country. I believe this is the way to go.

As for services like Crunchyroll and DAISUKI, can they do this? Crunchyroll said no, as they are “streaming only.” DAISUKI has their “paid videos” where you can pay for a video, but it felt confusing. Take a look at this Crunchyroll forum thread from 2013 for reference. If I compare that thread from DAISUKI’s FAQ page, it meant that DAISUKI is offering a “paid streaming” option, which can pass by as offline viewing if we focus on the video expiry, but that’s not what should happen. I support iflix and HOOQ’s endeavors for these reasons.

I almost forgot that we already have HBO Go (also launched in 2010 and is now available in the country through SKY) and Animax On Demand (which is available in Malaysia and some parts of Europe). This proves that Over-the-top technology, or “video-on-demand” has divided the viewing audience into two sets: Those who watch television broadcasts and those who watch on-demand.

Let’s also take note of the content provider — Aniplus. It’s a good thing that they are providing content through technologies other than cable TV, and I have trust in these people that they know what they are doing. If they can force Animax to being their on-demand service to the country, then that’s good news to me.

To end, I humbly disagree with the proposal on late-night anime in the country more than before, especially that the current trend is now into mobile. Now that people watch through their smartphones more than usual, why should we wait to watch anime on a late-night schedule? Why should we bombard TV networks to show decent anime even if they are, in most cases, restrained to do so?

I am ecstatic to see OTT develop in the coming years. By that time, we could have ISDB-T set-top boxes with digital video recording (DVR) functions, but soon enough anime fans will watch less on the square box and more on their mobile devices. I’ve felt that I’ve been shoving this idea into everyone, but if this keeps up, expect me paying that ₱129 fee to get iflix on the phone. I’ll be waiting.

I plan to review the iflix platform as they gave me a year’s access of the service during their media event with GMA. Here’s my story on Rappler about GMA on HOOQ and iflix written during my internship for more information.