The Good, The Bad & The Ugly with Asia TV Forum Online+

The Asia TV Forum (ATF) is one of the more bustling and respectable content and media trade shows in Asia, organized by Reed MIDEM, organizers of other major international B2B events such as MIPCOM, MIDEM etc. Taking place in the first week of December, the ATF is the perfect conference to wrap up the year's work before breaking for the holidays. Here are the highlights.

This time of the year is usually buzzing in Singapore. Because of the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) efforts to ramp up media awareness in the Lion City, for 10 days, the Singapore Media Festival brings a myriad of activities, injecting life into the island city state. The Asian Academy Creative Awards (AAA), Asia TV Forum & Market (ATF) and ScreenSingapore, and Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF). Singapore Games Market Bootcamp, SuperGamerFest, and VidCon Now Asia are held in conjunction with the Singapore Media Festival, and you’d bound to find something that appeals to your senses. Thanks to Covid-19, much of it, including the ATF went online. Below are the good, the bad and ugly of this year's ATF Online+.

The Good:

  • Schedules designed to keep you on the platform all day. Mornings were either keynote presentations, panel discussions or content screenings, where new series were announced by country.

  • Catch up made possible. This is almost a standard across all online international trade conferences. Timezones prove to be a challenge and video recordings are the only way to ensure the same information is available to all participants.

  • Access period extended. ATF Online opened doors on December 1, 2020 and access will be extended till February 2021.

The Bad:

The platform’s layout resembles that of MIPCOM as I’ve heard, whom several have mentioned was difficult to navigate, meet people and conduct video conference meetings. I verify all of the above and details are described below.

  • No email contacts available. Buyers’ list is only available if you’re a Participants Corporate user. Otherwise, all contact needs to be done on the platform.

  • No match no chat. Essentially, this limits getting acquainted with new people if a match request isn’t reciprocated. The ATF organizers claim they “actively chase buyers to check their pending meetings”. What does that mean? The multiple email blasts or web notifications (if you’ve subscribed to it).

  • Event participation made challenging. Events are listed but have to be added to your agenda before accessing video links. A cumbersome layer added since I’m already a participant. All users should do is click and access the video right away.

  • Lost in Whereby. ATF Online+ uses Whereby for all its video meetings and for those with unstable internet connections, communication lagged or was impossible to comprehend. Many of us had to move off other communication tools for more efficient meetings.

  • Vague conference topics. Reading titles alone weren’t sufficient to determine if the session was worth attending. With broad topics, speakers’ focus weren’t as pointed.

  • Helpdesk not too helpful. There were number of WhatsApp helplines, but their cookie cutter answers weren’t helpful and the only thing I could do was wait.

The Ugly:

ATF Online+ was certainly one event I was looking forward to in terms of meeting new industry professionals in the South East Asian region. Yet, I was rather disappointed with the functions, features and value it provided.

Is Reed MIDEM’s intention for ATF Online+ solely commercial then? Charging a premium for access, yet not bringing the value such trade conferences should give.

As we become more digital dependent and as the Covid-19 virus persists, what does this mean for efficient networking within the industry cross borders?

Other trade events in the Asia Pacific region that went online as well include: HK Filmart, Broadcast Worldwide, Shanghai TV Festival, TIFFCOM and Taiwan Creative Content Fest. Which ones have you attended and how did they match up?

Images taken from ATF's Official website and ATF Online+.

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