In this age of high-speed internet, you would be remiss to have never come across a streaming service, from the online streaming giant that is Netflix to major Hollywood studios like Disney and HBO; online content has become the king of entertainment in the 21st century.
Joining this growing trend in online entertainment is Progresif Media, the sultanate’s first streaming service which has devoted itself to spearhead the growth of the local media and content industry by providing a platform to not only create but also earn revenue.
A natural evolution; Progresif Radio to Progresif Media
Initially launched as the Progresif Radio app at the start of 2017, the platform which allowed a number of Bruneians to venture into becoming radio hosts and podcasters went through what was described as a “natural evolution” by Head of Progresif Media, Olivia Ong.
“It was such a natural progression to move into video,” she said in an interview with The Bruneian recently.
Add to that the government’s endorsement for growth in the local digital media scene, she continued, the establishment of a platform to feature content “made by Bruneians, for Bruneians”, felt apt.
“One of the major things as well, that sparked this transition was that at the time, Progresif didn’t have 4G, but now with 4G, we knew the faster speeds we can deliver better- and high-quality digital content,” she went on to say.
Being the first streaming service of its kind in the sultanate was not without its set of obstacles taking into consideration the online platform’s digital library of local, regional as well as Hollywood content.
“Really the one driving factor for us to trying to find content; regional, Hollywood, and understanding the criteria that would allow us to have them on our platform,” she added.
A look into the average Bruneian viewer
Despite the difficulty in learning the ins and outs of content licensing, the challenge that truly tested their mettle was to understand the local content market.
The tendency among Bruneians for illegal downloads posed a potential problem especially for an up-and-coming subscription-video-on-demand service (SVOD) like Progresif Media.
“That was one of the major things that we had to think about, how to change people’s mindsets because to support the industry, the support must be there to generate these opportunities,” explained Ong.
However, after more than a month of going live, the aforementioned concerns about the Bruneian public’s viewing habits held no water, as viewership of Bruneian-made content on the platform proved to be popular among subscribers.
“It’s interesting the kind of content that people are watching, from RTB’s Bintang Kecil to movies that came out more than five years ago like Origin Films’ Yasmine and Regalblue Production’s Ada Apa Dengan Rina,” she said.
“There is quite a traction, a huge influx of people looking to local content from the past because many of them are realising, that they didn’t have a chance to watch it (when it premiered),” she added.
Content is king; the search for local creators
With local content being celebrated through the Progresif Media app, the online streaming service is hoping to stir up more demand to invigorate Bruneian creators to use the platform to showcase their work.
“We have more content creators coming on board and we’re finding more and more people every day who have made content in the past that were never published,” explained Ong.
“There might still be some hesitation from a number of creators, who think that their work is not up to par with a certain standard, but all this, is just having different points of view and inspirations,” she added.
According to Ong, there are two programmes that are currently in place – Call for Content and Pitch Your Programmes – aimed to spur local creators to submit their past creations to showcase or pitch new content ideas respectively.
“With Pitch Your Programme, what happens here is that if you have an idea, whatever gap there is, whether in terms of equipment, sourcing for talent, even matching you with sponsors, we will try to help you,” she shared.
“What we really want to see is how well these budding filmmakers and directors can execute their ideas like is the production planned, do they have a budget? A timeline? And we will help with whatever that’s missing,” she added.
This is Progresif Media, these are Bruneian creators
“At the end of the day, we want to be the app where you can find everything that is made in Brunei,” said Ong.
The head of Progresif Media shared that a large part of the work in the coming months is to instill confidence among both creators and consumers, that the platform serves to elevate the small media and content industry in Brunei.
“There are a lot of people who have come up with a lot of interesting concepts, from showrunners, documentary filmmakers, some K-Pop dancers to even a booktuber (book YouTuber), though these concepts have existed, we’re trying to funnel them into Progresif Media,” she said.
Ultimately Ong is hoping for more awareness to be built, on the processes of creating digital media content, how that each project is never really tied to just one person, but a whole cast and crew.
“I’m always surprised at how big crews are, and what we at Progresif Media are doing is ensuring that everyone involved gets the right amount of acknowledgment and compensation because it takes raw talent and hard work to do what they do,” she continued.
“It’s not as easy as it looks, but hopefully, with more content made, we can create more opportunities and jobs to a point that we’ll be able to create an ecosystem where this industry can be pushed to a higher standard from where it is right now,” concluded Ong.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN