Formats, Media and Trends Overview Thus Far in 2020

Contrary to popular belief that trade show conferences and panel discussions serve little purpose, 2020’s Broadcast Worldwide (BCWW) proved otherwise this year. Given it was online this year, much had to be done to keep it’s audience coming back throughout the 5-day period. Let’s kick off with a review of content formats and trends thus far in 2020. 

In no particular order, the next few articles is a result of comprehensive consolidation and summary of conferences and panel discussions throughout the 5-day period. In this article, I’ll include insights from Janine Stein, Editorial Director of Content Asia, Sung Hee Lim, Director of 5GX Media Business at SK Telecom and Marty Adelstein, CEO of Tomorrow Studios. 

New Media Tech-led Trends - presented by Sung Hee Lim, Director of SK Telecom 5GX Media Business

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have long played a part in improving our daily lives, but how has that now affected the media industry? 

The creative production process 

AI has been slowly adopted in various aspects of the production process, including script-writing, casting, shooting and editing etc. Overall, AI shaves more time off the notoriously a long drawn processes, allowing more time to be spent on the actual creation. 

Products and services such as Script Book enabled producers and writers to analyze their scripts at pre-production phase and films at pre-release stages through a database set and identify a target audience for the film’s marketing campaigns. Script Book is also able to predict box office performance and expected revenue before budgets roll out. 


JTBC Play, a cultural space complex opened in Hongdae, one of the young trendiest spots of Seoul this August was said to have incorporated AI in their creation process, though details were not elaborated.  Joongang Tongyang Broadcasting Company (JTBC) is one of Korea's largest cable TV network and are known for top dramas, "The World of the Married", "Sky Castle" and "Itaewon Class".

As an add-on, JTBC Play is a 4-storey complex, open to the public in a bid to communicate better with JTBC’s general audience. Establishing this cultural space in Hongdae is also a means to reach out to the younger audience in the 20-30 plus year old demographics and build a keen brand awareness in this age group. 

Through usage of bright, cheerful colors, JTBC not only uses this space as a brand store, but as a cafe and bakery, exhibition space and an open studio as shoot locations or for offline events. 

Enhanced communication with customers

Speaking of communicating with customers, in the media industry overall, AI is already widely adapted to identify with their customers and influences, providing conclusions on how to better attract them. 

Samsung, though, have took it a higher level with NEON, their digital avatar, positioned as a friend for anyone who wants a human conversation. Mat Smith from Engadget reviewed this and concluded NEON to be "Alexa and Siri with eyebrows and teeth." Here’s his account of NEON when it was unveiled at CES earlier this year: 

There are still some limitations with AI and it won’t be able to solve all problems today, but it certainly provides some enhancements and improvement in everyday and now, at work. Mr. Lim ends his presentation by emphasizing the need to decide business needs and identify better partners for collaboration. 

Content Asia Formats Outlook: Leaders, Laggards, Change and Trends in Asia’s Formats Environment - presented by Janine Stein, Editorial Director of Content Asia

Janine gave a comprehensive overview as she presented formats’ progress and performance in the Asian market. Here are some of the key takeaways: 

  • Vietnam, Thailand and India were the top 3 markets adapting formats for Q1 2020. 

  • Cross cultural co-production growth: 

  1. East & West: BBC’s remake for “Dr. Foster” (JTBC’s “The World of the Married”) in India and Goplay’s rendition of “Gossip Girl” in Indonesia

  2. Within Asian territories: True CJ Creations, a partnership between True Visions and CJ E&M, remade Korean crime thriller, “Tunnel” and Line TV’s remake of Nippon TV’s “Mother” 

  • Formats and originals used as a means to fast track growth as seen from Chinese OTT platform, iQiyi, shot their most successful original “Soul Ferry” in Malaysia and Singapore to appeal to the South East Asian audience and aid their expansion into the region. Goplay, a video streaming platform launched in 2019 by Indonesia’s ride-hailing service, Gojek, chose to adapt series with interesting complexities (Tunnel) and high brand recognition (Gossip Girl) to extend it’s growth in the market. 

  • Due to the increased number of streaming platforms in Indonesia, there’s consequently an increased demand for scripted formats too. 

  • Other than Indonesia, Bangladesh, Japan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam also saw increase in formats’ demand 

Adapting Asian IP for the International Market - presented by by Marty Adelstein, Tomorrow Studios

For those who aren’t familiar, His career spans over 25 years in Hollywood and Tomorrow Studios is a partnership between ITV Studios and him. He was behind the live action adaptations of Japanese mangas, “One Piece” and “Cowboy Bebop”, and the TNT TV series adaptation of the movie, “Snowpiercer”, directed by Bong Joon Ho. 

He related the moment he made a resolution to remake “Snowpiercer” after watching it in theaters with his wife and added while he has scouts all over the world to search for the best stories and intellectual properties (IP) for the long play, Asia was still of particular interest. While this trend of western markets moving to Asia in search of the best new stories and IPs, this inevitably drive prices up, but ultimately, it is the relationship that seals the deal. He emphasized the importance of building relationships and trust in delivering what was promised as reasons for success in Asia in these last 3-4 years. 

As for what resonates with the international market, Adelstein acknowledged stories about family and their connections proved effective, as it lets the audience relate to the characters and their relationships. When asked about his next project in the pipeline, he revealed an upcoming series  co-production with Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) in Japan. 

Through the lenses of these three experienced professionals, it's plain to see (1) technology will continue to infuse into our lives in the entertainment media industry, and (2) good stories and IP come from anywhere and through formats adaptation, creativity with a local touch could still be exercised.