Free YouTube Videos Fuel Philippine Phone-Data Surge, Globe Says

Filipinos check their mobile phones inside a train in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (Photo by Richard James Mendoza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

By Siegfrid Alegado

Filipinos viewing free videos on YouTube and streaming content on social media platforms are fueling smartphone data usage in the country, Globe Telecom Inc. president Ernest Cu said.

Data now accounts for 70% of the Philippine telecommunications carrier’s service revenue, compared with 53% two years ago, according to the company. On Wednesday, the firm reported a profit of 5.6 billion pesos ($110.6 million) for the quarter through September.

“Video is a big driver,” Cu told Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin and Rishaad Salamat on Thursday. “Free content equates to quite significant data usage.”

Cu said most Filipinos, besides using YouTube, also spend time watching videos on Facebook -- sites where majority of the content is free. Streaming services such as Netflix that charge users a subscription fee “had very good acceptance” among more affluent customers, driving data traffic, he said. Shares of Globe rose as much as 2.3% on Thursday in Manila, the biggest intraday gain in six weeks.

To sustain the growth, Globe is building networks and additional capacity, Cu said. The venture of Ayala Corp. and Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. expects capital expenditures to stay elevated in 2020, he said.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.