The Lunar New Year marks a new start. As the new chapter begins, what could we expecting from the Asian TV industry in this Golden Year of the Pig?
I’ve visited the annual Asia TV Forum held last December in Singapore. Compared to many others, the ATF is still one of the most bustling TV markets in the region. Never a dull moment with show premieres, announcements, even better with celebrities, producers and directors gracing the event. For some reason, everyone attending the ATF almost always have a slightly more relaxed vibe than others. Perhaps it’s close to the holiday season and time to let loose while closing out the year?
On a more serious note, there were a few interesting nuggets noticed:
Format sales is the buzzword of today
Because everyone wants to create and own originals. Hence, successful formats, especially originating from Korea, Japan and Thailand are selling like hot cakes at the moment. First, to be like Netflix, but more importantly, to remain relevant and compelling in the face of fierce competition. Not to forget the highly anticipated new streaming service by Disney, launching late 2019.
Compared to other years, there is a surge in the number of Chinese production and TV broadcasting companies at ATF. Gone are the days where China productions weren’t given a second thought. While much of China's TV series cater mostly to the local audience, many are looking international and taking overseas' feedback seriously. As more international partnerships are established (i.e. Youku’s “Day and Night” on Netflix) and the high volume of shows churned out, it’ll be a matter of time before we see substantial demand for Chinese TV series globally.
With the success of “Crazy Rich Asians”, it’s no surprise that many have taken interest in Asia and Asian culture. Thanks to the few scenes, notably with Michelle Yeoh playing mahjong with Constance Wu, many non Singaporean friends have asked, “Do you know how to play that game?” or “Does Singapore really look like this?”. I often laugh, but point to note, our stories are traveling and our story telling has got much better. Even during ATF, meeting with several production companies, I’ve noticed many writers have taken the history we all know so well and gave it a contemporary spin. Now it leaves one to imagine how the final piece will turn out.
We all know content licensing and creation is a costly affair. Unless your core business is like Netflix, there’s almost no chance any investor or parent company will let cash burn for an extended period. The solution? SVOD Partnerships to first increase the content catalog, stipulate a holdback period and then charge consumers a premium rate. And if that sells, better yet, take on the invading giant, Netflix. One such notable partnership in Korea is between Oksusu and Pooq. Essentially this marks a partnership between Korea’s 3 major broadcasters, SBS, MBC and KBS for Pooq, with leading telco, SK Telecom for Oksusu. To further boost their content offering, Pooq has existing partnerships with other major players such as HK’s Viu TV, Malaysia’s iFlix and China’s iQiyi.
This year of 2019 promises to be one of fierce but interesting competition between the OTT platforms. More exciting though, would be the new TV remakes and content expected from more than the usual suspects. Are you ready?