“Big laughs, bigger thrills, amazing action, heartfelt drama—our hearts are full having shared those moments with you. However, all stories have to end.”
Those were the farewell words posted by Hooq Philippines in its social media account on April 29, 2020, at around 10:13 a.m. The announcement caught many of its local subscribers by surprise—the video-on-demand service provider said it would shut down its operations the following day, or on April 30, 2020.
However, this move was to be expected. On March 27, 2020, Reuters reported that Hooq’s parent company in Singapore had filed for liquidation following its reported failure to “sufficiently grow and provide sustainable returns.”
A pioneer in the service
Hooq was a joint venture of Singapore-based telco giant Singtel with international movie and TV outfits Warner Bros and Sony Pictures. The service easily became the top paid video-on-demand service provider when it launched in the Philippines on March 1, 2015. It had over 180,000 local subscribers by June that year.
After 5 years, Hooq strengthened its presence in five Asian countries—Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, and India. Throughout that period, the service has signed up more than 80 million subscribers despite the growing competition from aggressive rivals like iflix and Netflix.
The trouble about its finances stemmed from the business’ heavy losses in 2019, which reportedly rose up to $220 million against a supposed capitalization from investors of about $127.2 million. Hooq, in its liquidation filing, admitted that it could not get new funds from existing or new investors.
At the same time, most of Hooq’s content and distribution partnerships had started ending one by one in the past few months. The shutdown also comes amid an interesting time, when all of Hooq’s subscribers are locked down in their homes due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
In its Facebook account, many subscribers of Hooq Philippines have expressed disappointment over the abrupt turn of events. A number of them complain that they have just signed up or renewed annual subscriptions. Unfortunately, Hooq simply said that its current and active subscriptions are already terminated by April 30 and that due to its insolvency, it would not be able to process refunds.