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Astro better run and evolve before the rest catch up

In a recent article, we mentioned how Astro has been monopolizing the pay. However, a new pay-TV operator is about to hit the scenes and quite possibly wreck havoc for Astro. This is great news! In recent years, Astro has been annoyingly noob.

We’re soaring, flying.

I remember the early 2000s like it was only 15 years ago. Astro was THE SH*T! Malaysians could finally indulge in an array of films and TV shows from across the globe, be it from Hollywood, Bollywood, Kollywood or Hong Kong.

I grew up watching Disney Channel shows like Lizzie Mcguire and Kim Possible. Heck, I wouldn’t have gone through puberty if it wasn’t for those shows. I also remember sitting in front of my TV every Saturday at 7.30pm, eagerly awaiting for the new Disney Channel original movie to air.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL was my jam! As I grew older, I looked forward to the new Hollywood movie that would premiere every Sunday at 10pm. But most importantly, Astro is the reason why I bleed for Arsenal Football Club today.

There is no denying, the greatness that was Astro. It is because of Astro, Malaysians got to indulge in entertainment and LIVE sports. RTM didn’t air all these. The only thing RTM gave us was mismatched episodes of Power Rangers, Teletubbies, and reruns of Rajnikanth’s Baasha. Not that I’m complaining about that last one. We could all use a little bit of Baasha in our lives.

Over the years, nothing changed.

“Nothing changed? Isn’t that a good thing?” You might be wondering. If the glass isn’t broken, why fix it, right? Wrong. Because while Astro wallowed in vanity, with their, “We’re kings in Malaysia” mentality, the world evolved. In the late 90s and early 2000s, we didn’t have other alternatives.

24/7 great movies? More like 24/7 punch myself in the face. 

One of the biggest complaints about Astro is the fact that they tend to repeat the same programming over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. See how annoyed you got reading that sentence? Imagine watching a crappy movie on repeat.

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This isn’t something new, though. Astro has been doing that since its inception. However, in the late 90s and early 2000s when we had no other alternatives, it was still an effing luxury.

Times have changed. Why should we subscribe to something that promises us great movies 24/7, but for the most part repeatedly airs a crapfest like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Seriously, I once turned on the TV only to find that the only two movies being aired at that time were Transformers and White Chicks.

Why on God’s green earth would I pay 100++ for that sh*t when I can pay RM 30 per month and get almost every movie I can possibly think of, ON DEMAND, with a streaming service like Netflix?

In and around 2015, WWE started their own streaming service, WWE Network. In Malaysia, WWE Network is parked under Astro. Again, this speaks volumes about Astro’s monopoly in the industry. Which would be fine, if we actually got the PROPER WWE Network. We don’t.

The WWE Network is supposed to be a pro-wrestling fan’s wet dream. Not only will we able to catch all the pay per views live, we’ll also be able to catch older pay per views from the Attitude Era, a variety of pro-wrestling documentaries and older matches.

Unfortunately, Astro doesn’t air most of that. Sure, it still airs the monthly pay per views live, which is great, but other than that, the only thing that’s aired is Total Divas on repeat, 224,249 times a day.

Can someone help me? I can’t find my tits. 

Astro is loud and proud! “We air Game of Thrones the same time as the US!” Sounds great, right? Except Astro doesn’t air the FULL version. Everything is censored out, be it the extreme violence, foul language, and nudity.

But anyone who’s a Game of Thrones fan knows that violence, foul language and sex is essential to Game of Thrones’ storytelling and characters. If you censor everything, what are we even watching?

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Look, I don’t condone getting your entertainment illegally. I have a Netflix subscription and I go to the cinemas like 70 times a year. But let’s just take a step back and think about it. Do people really have a choice?

Option A (Astro)Game of Thrones completely censored, which would cause the characters and story to be sometimes slightly, sometimes very distorted.

Option B (illegal downloading)Game of Thrones completely uncensored, enabling people to completely understand the storyline and characters.

Who in their right mind would subscribe to Astro for Game of Thrones??

Deadpool was one of my favourite movies from 2016. It’s a great R-rated comedy that will leave you dying of laughter from start to finish. I watched it in the cinemas three times. During my last semester break, I went back to my parents’ place in my hometown.

Deadpool was airing on Astro, so I thought I’d give it a go. What a tragedy that turned out to be. I didn’t even laugh once. Every single foul word was censored out of the movie.

Watching Deadpool without cuss words is like watching Lee Chong Wei VS Lindan with the rackets and shuttlecocks censored out. Again, why on earth would I bother subscribing to Astro when I can just wait for it to come out on Netflix, other streaming services or worst yet, illegally download it.

Look, I do recognise that Astro not airing uncensored content isn’t the fault of the company. The Malaysian law is as such. However, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s simply not worth paying top dollar (or bottom dollar for that matter) for censored content.

On the plus side, Astro’s online streaming service, Astro on the Go does provide uncensored content. However, you MUST be an Astro subscriber first before you’re able to watch stuff like Game of Thrones and live football.

More like Astro un-value package.

Astro is sloooooow. Let me highlight something else to put things into perspective. If you click HERE you can see the list of Astro’s packages and prices. Under the VALUE pack, there is something called the Namma pack that will “Light up your home with the best of Indian dramas, comedies, reality series, movies and music entertainment in HD.” 

What they don’t tell you is that they’re not going to be including newer movies in that package. Baahubali 2, the highest grossing Indian movie of all time, which even managed to beat The Circle in its opening weekend in the US, is now out of Astro.

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Except it won’t be available to those who subscribe to the Namma package. It’s out on Astro First, which requires you to pay an ADDITIONAL RM 15.90 to watch the movie anytime for ONE month. On the other hand, we have Netflix, which you can watch Baahubali 2 with NO additional charges.

Astro does have its upside and it can be summed up in one word: Sports. In Malaysia, there are no other alternatives to watch sports, other than Astro. From the Barclays Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, Capital One Cup, the list goes on and on.

Astro has it all. But it isn’t just limited to football. Astro airs almost EVERYTHING live (most of the time), from badminton all the way to the NFL. However, one great deal doesn’t excuse Astro from every other nonsensical one.

It’s too early to tell if Ansa Broadcast will be a success or not. However, their involvement in the scene alongside Netflix and other streaming services like Iflix will surely put enormous pressure on Astro. Adapt or perish.

I agree with Nancy Pearcey when she said:

Competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.

  • Benjamin Bin Baniyamin

    This is how to write a misleading article about an industry you know nothing about. Bedroom bloggers and garage columnist please take note.