ContentAsia December 2021

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DECEMBER 2021

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NTENT

#Onehope 2022 Media execs with Asian businesses share their single biggest business hope for 2022

Plus: What we think 2022’s biggest trends and influences will be



contents...

what’s inside... #Onehope Media execs with Asian businesses share their single biggest business hope for 2022.

As we transform and expand rapidly, Emtek shall increase its relevance with a robust ecosystem that will benefit our partners and shareholders for years to come.”

Work closely with our partners and advertisers to grow consumer demand across sectors.” Nini Yusof, Deputy CEO, Media Prima Television Networks & Primeworks Studios, Malaysia

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Sutanto Hartono, CEO, PT Surya Citra Media (SCM) & Managing Director/COO, PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek)

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Window of opportunity

Production: Taiwan

Keep your eyes open

Fuji TV sees scripted co-develop-

Taiwan is making a play for a position as Asia’s best co-production partner. With a vibrant creative community, none of the censorship limitations or political restrictions that plague other markets, and a host of filming incentives, it’s not really a tough sell.

It’s not exactly rocket science to pick out the major trends in Asia’s video entertainment as 2022 dawns – streaming, more streaming, other streaming, new streamers coming, others going away to regroup or die. In the midst of all that, Asia’s programmers are finding a new voice. Here’s what we’re watching out for in the New Year.

ment as a golden opportunity to expand its international footprint. New drama, The Window, is just the beginning, the Japanese commercial network says.

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Brought to you by Fuji TV

Data: India

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Brought to you by TAICCA

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Feels Like Ishq, Netflix

Change agent

Netflix’s India top 10 TV series

India’s content environment,

have, since June 2021, been

says Applause Entertainment

dominated by Korean and U.S.

CEO Sameer Nair, is the

titles. Only nine local series have

“ultimate candy shop”. The

been viewed for enough hours

limitless opportunities unfolding

to make it to the weekly list and

come with their own set of

only two – anthology Ray and

pressures on the country’s

competition show Comedy

storytellers, he tells ContentAsia.

24

Premium League – have risen to #1.

StarHub’s new Dare

Formats Outlook

StarHub is betting on a future

2021 is unlikely to make

that’s more meta than physical,

Asian formats history. Blame

with lots of jargon smoothing

the pandemic. But there

the transition from lumpy telco

are significant other shifts.

to nimble digital hero. Just don’t

ContentAsia’s ongoing Formats

count pay-TV among its priorities.

Outlook takes stock.

32

contentasia december 2021

34

Ebbs and flows Much is being asked of premium Chinese drama producers in chasing Korea’s Hallyu with a C-wave of their own. It’s a high-stakes story filled with soaring demand, powerful players, fierce rivals, seemingly insurmountable hurdles, critical turning points, ardent desires, moral choices and political considerations.

46

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Great expectations Hong Kong director Derek Tsang has as many expectations of himself as others have of him. He spoke to Mathew Scott about the momentum driving the industry and his career and why

52

he feels the best is yet to come.

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editor’snote

Know time like the present One of my favourite places to be since 17 November has been

dark fantasy Hellbound was #1, and on the Top 10 in 93 countries. This

Netflix’s new Top 10 site. Not because it satisfies my some-call-it-sad

was followed by KBS historical romance The King’s Affection in second

obsession with details (many of them of no use at all), although there

place, despite its Monday/Tuesday prime-time

is that. But because it marks a new era of content transparency,

slot on the country’s biggest free-TV net-

enabling broader, deeper insights and knowledge opportunities for

work. The King’s Affection was on the Top

anyone with a browser and the interest.

10 in 27 countries for the week. Adult

There’s much debate about what the list actually indicates. Of

animated series, Arcane, set in the

course, it lays bare what’s working best for Netflix in specific markets in

League of Legends universe, was third

Asia in terms of engagement. And it’s not always Netflix’s originals from

in Korea, followed by JTBC detective

that market. This adds a layer to the common cliches about local con-

drama Inspector Koo and Reflection of

tent. Or about a platform’s ability to connect with and grow local audi-

You, also from JTBC, which airs the show

ences with the kind of stories it is telling and the content it is making.

on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The lists also say a lot about Netflix’s audience in, for instance, India,

The other five titles on the Top 10 are all

where the bulk of the titles on the Top 10 are from Korea and the U.S.,

Korean: I Am Solo, Love After Divorce

with the odd breakout here and there for shows like Comedy Premium

season two, Squid Game season

League. For the latest week Netflix has reported (22-28 Nov), Hellbound

one, My Name season one, and

and Squid Game were #1 and #2 in India. Jonas Brothers Family Roast

Men on a Mission.

was at #3, followed by Money Heist part one, The Good Doctor season

Netflix acknowledges that

four, Cowboy Bebop season one, Friends seasons one/five/six, and Locke

“figuring out how best

& Key season two. Korea: 2. U.S.: 7. Spanish: 1. Indian shows: 0. Who

to measure success in

would have thought? That said, comedy special Jonas Brothers Family

streaming is hard, and

Roast (23 Nov) appeared on the Top 10 in Bangladesh, the Maldives and

there’s no one perfect

Sri Lanka – and nowhere else. Again, who would have thought?

metric... Having looked

Since the end of June, when Netflix switched to its new reporting

at the different options,

system, only one Indian series – House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths –

we believe engagement

has appeared on the global list of non-English TV shows, with 9,220,000

as measured by hours viewed

hours viewed (11-17 Oct). Compare that to Korean titles, which filled

is a strong indicator of a

the Top 10 global non-English TV lists for 22-28 Nov with titles like Hell-

title’s popularity, as well as

bound (67,520,000 hours viewed), Squid Game (25,730,000), The King’s

overall member satisfac-

Affection (15,920,000) and Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (13,310,000). The

tion, which is important for

top show for the week was Colombian drama The Queen of Flow S2

retention in subscription

(69,030,000). Danish fantasy horror show, Elves, about a Christmas vaca-

services”. Exactly.

tion that goes all wrong was at number 10 with 6,660,000 hours viewed. Korea tells a totally different story of Netflix’s ability to connect. The week of 22-28 Nov was a love letter to local content. Webtoon-based

Editorial Director Janine Stein janine@contentasia.tv Assistant Editor Malena Amzah malena@contentasia.tv Research & Production CJ Yong cj@contentasia.tv Design Rae Yong Research Assistant Rhealyn Rigodon iyah@contentasia.tv Social Media Emma Tziporah

INTERNATIONAL Associate Publisher (Americas, Europe) and VP, International Business Development Leah Gordon leah@contentasia.tv

What is ContentAsia?

ASIA Sales and Marketing Manager Masliana Masron mas@contentasia.tv

To receive your regular free copy of ContentAsia, please email i_want@contentasia.tv

ContentAsia is an Asia-based information resource that refines today’s info-deluge into usable, digestible, and reliable intelligence about entertainment content creation, funding, financing, licensing, distribution, design and branding and technology across the Asia-Pacific region. ContentAsia’s range of products include electronic, print and online publications.

Copyright 2021 Pencil Media Pte Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Published by: Pencil Media Pte Ltd l www.contentasia.tv l www.contentasiasummit.com l www.contentasiaawards.com

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contentasia december 2021


fremantlescreenings.com


For the pandemic to finally abate and for our industry to get back to what it was.”

Work closely with our partners and advertisers to grow consumer demand across sectors.” Nini Yusof, Deputy CEO, Media Prima Television Networks & Primeworks Studios, Malaysia

Ganesh Rajaram, General Manager, EVP Sales – Asia, International, Fremantle

#Onehop

To be at the forefront of the race to revolutionise the Indonesian entertainment industry by providing quality entertainment, accessible anywhere, anytime for anyone.”

Media execs with Asian their single biggest bus

Manoj Punjabi, CEO & Founder, MD Entertainment, Indonesia

Outstanding business that includes delighted clients, increased local production & agreeing on deals around a tea or a glass of wine!” Sabrina Duguet, EVP, APAC, All3Media International

That the demand for bold and unique content grows both from platform and audience.” Amit Jethani, Group CEO, Multivision Plus (MVP), Indonesia

Our formats thrive on live audience participation. I hope we see a massive return to in-person, largescale productions across Asia.”

Successfully localise global renowned content in the age of digital technology that is shifting the industry to another dimension…we look forward to even greater partnerships next year.” Ankhbayar Ganbold, CEO, Central TV, Mongolia

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Ayesha Surty, SVP Asia, ITV Studios Global Entertainment

Bring unlimited Hong Kong memories and creativity to Hong Kong audiences.”

Korean content becoming mainstream worldwide.”

Winnie Ngai, Chief Marketing Officer – OTT Content & Digital Marketing, MyTV Super, TVB Hong Kong

Sebastian Kim, Director for Content Sales and Acquisitions, CJ ENM Korea

contentasia december 2021


As we transform and expand rapidly, Emtek shall increase its relevance with a robust ecosystem that will benefit our partners and shareholders for years to come.”

Partnership! Create format and drama remake hits by co-developing with partners the world over. Enjoy the chemistry with our unique ideas.”

Sutanto Hartono, CEO, PT Surya Citra Media (SCM) & Managing Director/COO, PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek)

Mikiko Nishiyama, Managing Director, IBD, Nippon TV

pe 2022

Accelerated growth of streaming platforms, local and global, to help create a truly global village of shared content and culture.”

n businesses share siness hope for 2022

To target that ‘ultimate fine balance’ between IP retention and investment.” Rashmi Bajpai, EVP Asia, Banijay Rights

Sameer Nair, CEO, Applause Entertainment, India

A renewed sense of possibilities across content creation and distribution systems... The right partners, interesting stories and the bravery to take some calculated leaps of faith could see 2022 be the year that the Asian content ecosystem truly begins scaling up like never before.” Saugato Banerjee, Managing Director, Asia, A+E Networks Asia

Increase content sales using our new e-commerce system called Japan Entertainment TV programmes market (JET).”

To forge strategic co-production partnerships with producers around the region.” Virginia Lim, Chief Content Officer, Mediacorp, Singapore

Yasuyuki Azuma, Head of International Business, Fuji Television Network Inc, Japan

Big success for our 1st K+’s original slate & the biggest investment in local series so far, in order to invigorate value and quality of original production in Vietnam.” contentasia december 2021

Trinh Thu Thuy Lien, Content & Channel Director, VSTV/ K+ (Vietnam)

To be annoyed at airports again so we can meet with clients, strike deals, and see productions back into full swing.” Gary Pudney, Founder and Managing Director, O4 Media

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Strengthen JKN18’s ratings through original productions to better connect and monetise content and commerce for the group.”

To further expand Thai drama’s footprint to enhance the exposure of Thai stories to global audiences.”

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, CEO, JKN Global Media, Thailand

Surin Krittayaphongphun, Executive Director &President, TV Business, BEC World, Thailand

Collaborate on exciting new co-productions.” Sonia Fleck, CEO, Bomanbridge Media

KC Global Media family and communities are physically, mentally and emotionally healthy so that we can continue to enjoy producing innovative content harmoniously alongside streaming platforms.” George Chien, Co-founder, President & CEO, KC Global Media Asia

Achieving better content through global partnerships, renewing our identity as a public service media.”

Our new projects, Mandarin/Thai scripted series, to rock the whole of Asia and travel worldwide.”

Noriko Aratani, Senior Producer, Global Content Development Division, Programming Department, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)

Michael Jung, MD, CJ ENM Hong Kong & COO True CJ Creations, Thailand

To elevate and widen our perspective and to put things in place now that we all know we have to learn to live with Covid-19. Continue to be resilient for business to recover and weather the difficulties and other challenges to come.”

A higher level of interaction between China and the world for entertainment content innovation.” Lester Yangzi Hu, Head of Formats and International Business, Hunan TV, China

Mariani Abdullah, MD, DM Don Square Entertainment, Brunei

Push to do 3C (creative, content & collaborate) because good creative content without collaboration will be like a king without territory.” Gunawan8 Goony, Senior Acquisition Distribution Manager, PT Cakrawala Andalas Televisi (ANTV)

My biggest hope is to travel to wonderful Asia for in-person meetings and to welcome my Asian friends and colleagues in Europe once more.” contentasia december 2021

Sophie “Kido” Prigent, Global Sales Director, Jetpack Distribution


THE

TH E

P RO D U C E RS

M I S SI NG

A ND

@all3media_int all3mediainternational.com

FRO M

O F

LI AR

Epic thrillers, gripping documentaries, stand-out formats

TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH, HE MUST FIRST DISCOVER WHO HE IS

CHEF TO THE RESCUE


Create content that touches people’s heart.”

To work with even more Asian creators to bring amazing stories to new audiences everywhere.”

Shinetsetseg Jargalsaikhan, Director of Programming, NTV Broadcasting LLC, Mongolia

Clement Schwebig, MD, WarnerMedia – India, Southeast Asia & Korea

To unleash the power of content and maximise delivery, specifically through D2C streaming products.” Catherine Park, SVP, Head of Office & Streaming for Asia, ViacomCBS Networks International

Continued faith in tightly curated thematic linear channels as the most efficient means for consumers to find what they are looking for in a tsunami of content choice and fragmentation.” Gregg Creevey, MD, Multi Channels Asia (MCA)

That travel will open up and all our industry friends can gather again and relive that family feel unique to our region!”

Further acceleration of rich and diverse Asian storytelling for local and global markets.” Lynn Ng, VP, Head of Content, APAC, Discovery Inc

Julius Toh, VP, Sales, Distribution & Networks, Southeast Asia, Sony Pictures Television

Helping audiences across the region understand the journey out of the pandemic, shining a light on the issues that matter, putting an Australian perspective on global affairs.”

Reasonable content cost.” Andrew Tan, Head, Content, StarHub Singapore

Claire M. Gorman, Head, ABC International Services, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC Australia)

To help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder.” Whit Higgins, SVP, International Media and Education and Distribution, Sesame Workshop, U.S. 10

Our security, analytics and advertising solutions will be used by even more streaming and pay-TV providers.” Margaret Lee, VP Sales APAC, Synamedia contentasia december 2021


#1 for trusted News & Current Affairs

For ways to watch ABC Australia, go to http://www.abcaustralia.net.au/tuning For Distribution & Partnership Opportunities, Contact: international.distribution@abc.net.au


Continuing growth: of our free-to-air TV business and successful launch of our fresh digital content platform.”

My hope is that audiences stay faithful to our channel amidst the analogue switch off in 2022.” Artine Utomo, CEO, Rajawali Televisi (RTV), Indonesia

Deddy Sudarijanto, CEO, NET TV, Indonesia

For operators and content partners to agree on a mutuallybeneficial business model to transition our customers to OTT.” Jaja Suarez, Consumer Group Business Unit Head, SKY Cable Corporation, Philippines

To turn media disruption into an opportunity by delivering the best Thai content into our global fans’ hands on digital platforms.” Warut Leeruangsakul, EVP – Digital and New Media, BEC World, Thailand

Boost content creativity that can be maximised across free-to-air and digital platforms in this beginning of a new post-pandemic era.”

To see if new VOD and free ad-supported TV players can create additional traction for our 100 hours of 4K production.”

Yeni Priana Anshar, Director of Programming, NET TV, Indonesia

Teremoana Seguin, MD, Harbour Rights

Curating & creating a diverse offering of rich narratives from across the world for localisation, expansion & fortification of MX Indian & global audiences.”

To continue to be the gateway to Korea, Japan & Southeast Asia, and to expand to the U.S. and beyond.” YangIm Lee, Director, Content Business Division, LYD, Korea

Mansi Shrivastav, SVP & Head – Content Acquisitions & Partnerships, MXP Media India

Great collaboration across platforms and territories to bring ambitious stories to life.”

To discuss latest trends and opportunities finally face to face again.”

Nick Solowski, Senior Director, International Sales and Acquisitions, Blue Ant International

Stephanie Wang, VP International TV Sales & Acquisitions, Global Screen

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contentasia december 2021


A NEW 8 X 60’ CRIME DRAMA

ANNE MARIVIN

Distributed by


GagaOOLala becomes the global hub for creators and fans of LGBTQ + BL content.”

To structure more strategic deals vs. transactional approach with platforms and spend time on content curation and marketing to consumers .”

Jay Lin, Founder & CEO, Portico Media & GagaOOLala

Indra Suharjono, Senior Media Adviser, JKN Global Media PLC & Co-founder, I.E. Entertainment

To continue to work with our partners to make premium educational content available to every family.” Estelle Lloyd, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, Macademia

Asian content being enabled with the spectacular Dolby experience for the highest audio video quality.” Pankaj Kedia, MD, Emerging Markets, Dolby Laboratories

Both clients and creatives remember that the creative process is messy.”

Continue our singleminded focus to uplift Asian content, bringing Filipino and regional talents to the global stage.”

Angela Cheung, MD, APV Hong Kong

Sherwin Dela Cruz, Country Manager, iQiyi Philippines

To partner closely with platforms to launch new entertainment & content diversity.” Alexandre Bac, MD, Asia Pacific, Thema

To win with originality in ideas, creativity, concepts and content, and values that include unique product propositions, quality customer experience, and shareholder benefit.” 14

Ario Widyatmiko, Chief Content Officer Dens.TV

That Thai BL series continues to a big trend in 2022 and for years to come.” Joe Suteestarpon, CEO, Mediaplex International, Thailand

Strengthen our relation with buyers in Asia and continue to export drama series, documentaries and animation to this dynamic region.” Sarah Zarka, International Sales Mancontentasia 2021 ager Drama, Kids december & Documentaries, Federation International


Finding more ways to create win-win opportunities for us and our partners, to deliver solid entertainment to the region.” Tony Zameczkowski, Vice President, Business Development, APAC, Netflix

That content creators’ fervour to keep going never dims, for the industry to continue transcending platforms, markets and territories.” Cheri Domingo, Senior AVP & Head of International Programming, GMA Network, Philippines

To maintain the trust of customers through one of the richest catalogues in Latam.” Jesus Iriepar, International Sales, MENA, Asia & Europe, Caracol Television

We hope that 2022 will take us back to more face to face meetings with our Asian business partners!” Marie-Laure Roche, Director of Sales, Superights

Following the international process the biggest hope is to entertain homes around the world with a diverse and high quality series.” Jose Antonio Salso, Head of Acquisi-

contentasia tions december and 2021 Sales, Atresmedia Television

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The nexus of media, entertainment, eSports and gaming with the metaverse.”

Sports to return in full force so Astro can serve fans with the most immersive sports content in 4K and Interactive mode on Astro Go.”

Debbie Lee, Founder/CEO, Tech Storm TV

Nicholas John (Nick), Vice President and Head of Sports, Astro Malaysia

We are betting big on more cross border stories and adaptations in 2022.” Vivek Lath, MD, GoQuest Media

Working with young and talented Myanmar’s next generation to bring innovative, original Myanmar’s untold stories and ultimately boosting Asian content output worldwide.” May Wah Lwin, Channels Editorial Manager, Canal+ Myanmar

Find the co-existence of online and on-air content offering.”

We are looking forward to seeing our new live action division take off, with at least five new movies produced in 2022.”

Krissada Trishnananda, Content and Programming Director, Bangkok Media and Broadcasting Company, PPTV, Thailand

P. Jayakumar, CEO, Toonz Media Group

Breaking the barriers to entry in OTTs.” Truong Thanh Hang, Acquisition Manager – Project Development Manager, Vietba Media, Vietnam

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Thailand becoming a new creative format hub of the world.”

For a brighter tomorrow, entertaining the world with our timeless content and services.”

Dhanasak Hoonarak, Chief Business Development, Workpoint Group, Thailand

Takahiro Kawata, GM of International Business Center, TBS TV, Japan

To grow NTV’s ready-made content sales globally. Alongside with that, we are planning to strengthen the company’s international position as one of the top scripted and nonscripted format producers in key markets.” contentasiaGeneral decemberProducer, 2021 Timur Weinstein, NTV, Russia


Brought to you by Fuji TV

The Window

Window of opportunity Fuji TV sees scripted co-development as a golden opportunity to expand its international footprint. New drama, The Window, is just the beginning, the Japanese commercial network says.

Japanese commercial broadcaster, Fuji TV, comes off its first interna-

website at thewindow.com. The show also has its own Instagram ac-

tional co-production, The Window, with a giant appetite for more, as

count, thewindowtv.

well as a renewed commitment to the old Japanese saying: “Kouki issu bekarazu”. Roughly translated, this means ‘when an opportunity comes along, even if it doesn’t seem big, don’t miss it because it could be a

The series is scheduled to release in Japan in 2022-2023. Voiceover actors have not been announced. Fuji TV producer Yuri Akimoto describes the Tokyo-based national net-

golden one’. And, of course, the network has high hopes for pick ups

work’s experience with this first-of-a-kind project as wonderful, despite

across the region.

all the pandemic-related production challenges. “While international

The 10-episode character-based thriller, set in the high-stakes transfer

co-production can sometimes be difficult in terms of differences in

window between professional football seasons, stars Samuel Jordan

mostly business cultures and communications... throughout the project,

in the story of 17-year-old football wunderkind, Jordan Burdett. What

we were able to share the same goal and values through many won-

starts out as a tug-of-war between his brother and an agent over his first

derful meetings in person and online with everyone. We could not have

professional contract evolves into a “bigger, darker story... that goes

done this if it were not for this collaboration team,” she says.

beyond winning and losing games to explore the full, dark circus of this

Covid-19 containment measures presented the team with some of its biggest challenges during the three-year development and produc-

multi-billion dollar business”. Japanese actress Yuriri Naka plays Noriko A Sari, an assistant at sports agency Septre and a friend of lead character Jordan Burdett’s brother, Kieran (played by Tommy Bastow). German-Korean heartthrob Teo Yoo plays heir Jae Yeon Cho, whose father owns the Manchester

tion process. “There are many things that we wanted to but could not do due to the pandemic,” Akimoto says. These include set visits, more in-person meetings and face-to-face discussion. “Also, in terms of shooting, there were a lot of compromises that needed to be done in order to make things happen under severe

Football club and who struggles to show his

circumstances, but I am very thankful that these were overcome with

power and worth to the world.

creativity and patience and flexibility. We are proud of how we man-

Written by James Payne and directed by Adrian Shergold, The Window, is produced by Germany’s Boogie Entertainment and ZDF Enterprises along with Fuji TV and Velvet

aged the situation and how we came up with such an entertaining series,” she adds. Nearing the end of a long journey that began at Mipcom in 2017, Akimoto says no one around the casual dinner table on the night could

Films in Belgium. ZDF Enterprises (ZDFE)

have imagined where “that one conversation, just a small idea” could

and Fuji TV are distributing the series

have ended up as an incredible project.

internationally.

“So I guess our learning from this process is that you never know

Episode one previewed during

where the chances are so keep looking and value any opportunity big

Mipcom in Cannes in October

or small, casual or formal,” she says, adding: “And don’t be shy to share

2021, along with dedicated

your ideas!.”

Yuri Akimoto

17


Brought contents...to you by TAICCA

Production: Taiwan

Island Nation 2

Taiwan is making a play for a position as Asia’s best co-production partner. With a vibrant creative community, none of the censorship limitations or political restrictions that plague other markets, and a host of filming incentives, it’s not the region’s toughest sell. When GagaOOlala founder Jay Lin took to the stage during Tiffcom in

103 million, GagaOOlala has nevertheless carved a unique entertain-

Japan in October this year, and then a few days later at the Taiwan Cre-

ment space for an underserved community. The platform’s production

ative Content Fest in Taipei, he stood for more than a slate of new shows

unit, GOL Studios, has attracted filmmakers such as Nancy Chen (Papa

looking for production partners and financing.

and Daddy), Adiamond Lee (Five Lessons in Happiness – Homebound)

Lin, together with the filmmakers he is gathering under the GOL Studios banner, speaks to a generation of creators confident in their storytelling skills, fresh from a hard-won fight for gender equality, unshackled by censorship, free to wander wherever their creativity takes them, religion and

and Thailand’s Aam Anusorn Soisa-ngim (Present Perfect), who directed GOL Studios’ first Thai Boys Love (BL) original, Call It What You Want. GagaOOlala ramps up diversity and inclusion in an environment where the scope of drama today is as broad as the demand for it is vibrant.

politics included, and – critically – supported by a two-and-a-half-year-old

Titles out of Taiwan encompass everything from this year’s epic histori-

government agency, Taiwan Creative Content Agency (TAICCA), with a

cal TV series Seqalu: Formosa 1867 by public broadcaster PTS to apoca-

clear goal to carve a space for Taiwan on the global content stage.

lyptic love story Rainless Love in a Godless Land (2021), which is Chinese

Supervised by Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, TAICCA’s focus these days is on co-production. This focus is driven by exploding demand from local

streamer iQiyi’s first original with Taiwanese production house, Three Phoenixes. And a whole lot in between.

and global streaming platforms, including iQiyi, Netflix, Viu and HBO Go,

Following early stumbles with widely panned Nowhere Man (2019)

as well as the Squid Game effect, which has given Asian creators a new

– Netflix’s first fully funded Mandarin original – the global streamer has

confidence in their ability to participate in the global boom.

shaped its Taiwan slate with titles such as this year’s Heaven on the Fourth

Newcomers are bound to boost production fortunes even further.

Floor and Golden Bell Award-nominated series, The Victims’ Game.

Disney+ launched in Taiwan this month. In the run-up, the streamer an-

Directed by Singing Chen for public broadcaster PTS, Heaven on the

nounced Taiwanese comedy drama, Small & Mighty, starring Chen Bo-

Fourth Floor stars Anthony Wong (Infernal Affairs) as a masseuse able to

Lin, and Women in Taipei as part of its upsized production slate that aims

heal emotional wounds. The show was on Netflix’s top 10 in Taiwan for

to have 50 APAC originals by 2023. HBO Max is on its way; while the mar-

five weeks running from 11 Oct to 14 Nov.

ket is familiar with WarnerMedia’s current streamer, HBO Go, Max could be an entirely new product.

Season two of Golden Bell Award-nominated series, The Victims’ Game, by Greener Grass Productions, returns exclusively to Netflix in

And, of course, not forgetting the five-year-old Taipei-based LGBTQ+

2022, with producers Hank Tseng and Phil Tang and directors David Ch-

streaming platform GagaOOlala, which launched globally in May 2020

uang and Allen Chen. Season one stars Joseph Chang in the story of a

and now has 1.2 million registered members around the world. The plat-

forensic detective who, after discovering his estranged daughter’s link to

form carries 1,200 titles, including a fast-growing slate of originals.

murders, risks everything to solve the case.

If this pales against Netflix’s 214 million, Disney+’s 116 million and iQiyi’s

18

Taiwan’s recent batch of premium originals also stretches across crime

contentasia december 2021


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19


contents... Twisted Strings

mystery, coming of age lesbian drama, martial arts, dark comedy, science fiction, kids and animation.

TAICCA’s plan for the post-pandemic production environment is to ramp up cross-border collaborations. The effort is underpinned by the

Dramas include Hong Bo Hao’s mystery crime series Trinity of Shadows

year-old Taiwan International Co-funding Programme (TICP), which can

(2021), which binds a detective, a public official and a rookie police-

co-exist with select other incentive schemes from, for instance, the Taipei

man in a dark power play; Angel Teng’s coming-of-age lesbian series,

Film Commission. Set up in 2020, TICP offers film and TV studios a rebate

Fragrance of the First Flower (2021), starring Lyan Chen and Zaizai Lin; Liu

of up to 30% of a project’s final production budget provided the first 70%

Yi’s martial arts drama Chi: The Method Of Breathing; and seven-episode

has already been secured, or 30% of global marketing costs. The rebate

anthology series, Twisted Strings, which is the latest poster show for the

is capped at US$300,000.

kinds of multi-partner collaborations at the top of the country’s agenda.

Requirements include flexible levels of Taiwanese involvement in the

Twisted Strings, showcased for the first time at the Series Mania Forum

production, and projects do not have to be filmed in Taiwan. Projects

in France at the end of August this year, is scheduled for an early 2022

that have tapped TICP include a film from Mauritanian-French director

release. The series is a co-production led by Taiwan’s Catchplay with

Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu), who is said to have chosen Taiwan

WarnerMedia/HBO Asia, which has about 10 originals from Taiwan on its

over China because of Taiwan’s free production environment.

slate already and has been a consistent co-production and distribution partner for Taiwanese producers.

Along with a bouquet of incentives and attractions, including TICP, TAICCA closes 2021 with virtual participation in the annual ATF event in

Executive produced by Taiwan’s Hou Hsiao-hsien, Twisted Strings is a

December. The agency will host the Taiwan Pavilion as well as two online

tales-of-the-unexpected series featuring characters from all walks of life,

showcases highlighting eight TV programmes and two films (see page 19).

fates and destinies. The series is written and directed by Golden Horsenominated director, Huang Xi.

ATF showcase highlights include family sports drama Girls Win; reality show All Star Sports Day; entertainment/reality show Dancing Diamond,

Starring Taiwanese actor, director and writer Lee Kang-sheng (Bang

co-hosted by co-host Handian Chen; and science-fiction drama 2049, an

bang wo ai shen), Twisted Strings is produced by Catchplay’s year-old

18-episode drama divided into three chapters that deal with humans trying

production subsidiary, Screenworks Asia, which is a joint venture with

to control their destiny using big data, healing old trauma with new tech,

TAICCA. Production partners for the series are Taiwan’s Bossdom and Sin-

and relationship repair using a mind-reading device. 2049 is produced by

gapore’s Mediacorp.

myVideo, Eastern Television (EBC) and Greener Grass Production.

The show will premiere as an HBO Asia original across HBO platforms,

“We hope this series can help audiences expand their imagination

and will stream simultaneously on Catchplay+ in Taiwan and Indonesia,

about life in the future,” producer Phil Tang says, adding: “The 2049

with a release on Mediacorp’s digital platform meWatch in Singapore.

concept is an IP. We hope to use it to broaden our imaginations in cre-

Twisted Strings is filmed in Taiwan, where media authorities are well-

ating. We want to use different genres, and different artists to tell the

versed in the language of incentives and familiar with international pro-

stories we want to tell”. He could, indeed, be speaking for Taiwan’s

ductions that have used the country as a backdrop.

entire creative industry.

20

contentasia december 2021



2022watchlist

It’s not exactly rocket science to pick out the major trends in Asia’s video entertainment as 2022 dawns – streaming, more streaming, other streaming, new streamers coming, others going away to regroup or die. In the midst of all that, Asia’s programmers are finding a new voice. And we’re loving it and looking forward to more. Here’s what else we’re watching out for in the New Year. When, a few days ago, Line announced its video streaming exit from

At home, the revamped TVing, with all-new partners, launched in

Thailand at the end of this year, the reality of streaming’s challenges in

October 2020. In June this year, Korean conglomerate Naver added

Asia – and Southeast Asia especially – rose up even more starkly. In the

KRW40 billion/US$34 million to the streamer’s coffers, giving it a 15%

absence of public explanation from the horse’s mouth, a few theories

stake. Four months later, in October, TVing unveiled its Japan/Taiwan

have taken the lead.

expansion and talked about global plans. TVing’s co-CEO, Yang Ji-eul,

The first is that Line looked at Thailand, at the rising video competi-

took to the stage with a strong story built on the back of an 86% leap in

tion from relative newcomers iQiyi and WeTV, along with Viu, Disney+,

subs at home in the first half of 2021 and a 27.6% year on year increase

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and, eventually, HBO Max, combined with

in domestic Korean TV advertising. TV ad growth was attributed to

its advertising-supported model in a YouTube universe, not to mention

shows such as Wise Doctor’s Life season 2 and You Quiz on the Block.

domestic players with free-TV businesses, and the whole business just became a headache and a distraction. Insiders say no one should be surprised, given Line TV’s spending pull-

So, TVing’s rise is one of the things at the top of our 2022 watch list, along with, of course, the inevitable ups-and-downs of on-demand video in every market in Asia.

back since early in 2021 – a sure sign (especially in hindsight) of trouble.

What else will we be looking out for in the new year?

Talk is that Line had been looking for a buyer for its video business in

Netflix’s weekly top 10 lists (with the hope of similar transparency from

Thailand for months, failing which a shut-down was inevitable. The second theory is that far from giving up on video, Line’s Japanese

other streamers). Although Netflix’s per-country TV watch hours are not disclosed, the Top 10 enables useful insights and deeper understanding

and Korean owners are regrouping with new video initiatives under the

of what’s being watched. Or not. And, for the most part, we all have

TVing brand, owned by Naver, CJ E&M and JTBC.

access to the top titles, so we can watch them ourselves, and think

And why not? TVing is a rising star and the signs are all good, al-

about why. Of course there are a million ways from Sunday we’re being

though sceptics say Thailand – or any other Southeast Asian market – is

told to be careful with conclusions. Okay, sure. We will be. Bye. What we

unlikely to be on the company’s priority lists for now. The platform has

would love is for other streaming platforms follow. Unlikely, in 2022 and

already announced plans to roll out in Japan and Taiwan in 2022, fol-

maybe ever. But one can always hope.

lowed by the U.S. in 2023.

Also on our 2022 watch list is Taiwan’s Taiwan Creative Content

The expansion happens as Korean content enjoys unprecedented

Agency (TAICCA), which has taken a leaf from Korea’s playbook and

global attention. Korean media companies have their highest interna-

has set its sights on a bigger, bolder international presence for Taiwan-

tional profile ever, taking their places around the tables of global enter-

ese creators and content. It took Korea 20+ years, and Korea Creative

tainment brands with, for instance, CJ ENM’s US$775 million acquisition

Content Agency (KOCCA) is still at it. TAICCA has been going for a year

of 80% of Endeavor Content’s scripted business as part of its vision to

or so, so there’s a way to go, but early signs are good. TAICCA has a

become a “global total entertainment company”.

solid story built on the back of real creativity in a democratic market

22

contentasia december 2021


where, among other things, gender parity is valued and freedom of speech is prized. Can Taiwan’s creative industry step out of its prevailing art-house brand? Is there a Hellbound somewhere in there? Sure, why not... And now is definitely a good time, with demand so high from so many quarters and so much support. Plus, Taiwan can ride (and is already) restrictions imposed in mainland China that can scare off coproduction partners from elsewhere in the world. Which brings us to China and what we’re watching out for. Like everyone, we are keeping a close eye on the ideological tightening that has swept the mainland. This is the other C-wave – a dial-back to traditional Communist ideals and a fierce effort to protect the country’s cultural heart. The incoming tide is levelling celebrities, waging war on what Party bosses view as damaging hedonistic excesses, and, among other restrictions, squeezing men into a stereotypical macho male box, forcing them to lose the make-up, the hair and anything else associated with “sissy boys”. What comes next is anyone’s guess, but best bets are that the this environment is here to stay for a while. At the other end of the spectrum, India is talking about a light regulatory touch and content creativity is on fire, although we’re constantly being told how difficult it is to do business in such a low ARPU market. Media Partners Asia (MPA) says India’s SVOD market could swell to more than 300 million users by 2026. India currently has 100 million paying subscribers. Meanwhile, shows like Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors, Out of Love, Hostages, Aarya, Unheard and Call My Agent: Bollywood mark the country’s migration into premium drama and its fledgling efforts to tell more thoughtful stories. 2022 will bring more of that. If that’s not something to look forward to, then what is? Apart from streaming developments in every single market in Asia (including moves like Netflix introducing a free tier in Vietnam and the impact of Viu’s content direction after the split of original production and content acquisition under Felix To and Marianne Lee), here’s what else we will be watching across the region in 2022... Japan’s progress with international expansion, particularly co-developments like Fuji TV’s drama series, The Window and Tokyo Broadcasting System Television’s (TBS) crime procedural, Deep Crime Unit, which is premiering in Jan 2022; the continued growth of Indonesia’s storytelling community into a premium space, whether platforms like Emtek’s Vidio will ramp up big and fast enough to leverage its domestic advantages, and who else might want to be playing in that combo free-TV/streaming space; the ongoing impact of China’s tough attitudes towards Hong Kong; what emerges from Singapore’s Mediacorp with new content head, Virginia Lim, in the hot seat; whether or not Thailand’s lakorn can continue its run in the region and move into markets further afield; and Malaysia’s new direction, with pay-TV leader Astro promising to dump its legacy tech stack in favour of an all-new entertainment experiece that includes super-aggregation of streaming services and an even closer focus on developing local premium content, and free-TV broadcaster Media Prima’s new found licensing prosperity driven by giant acquisition deals by regional and global streamers. What happens now that the library has been sold? We’ll know soon enough.

23


dataindia

Netflix top 10: India

Netflix’s India top 10 TV series have, since June 2021, been dominated by Korean and U.S. titles. Only nine local serie weekly list and only two – anthology Ray and competition show Comedy Premium League – have risen to #1. And even League stayed at #1 for two consecutive weeks, before falling back. Only one – House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths – h with 9,220,000 hours viewed (11-17 Oct). The most any Indian original has stayed on the list is four weeks. No particu other; originals that have made it to the top 10 range from comedy, crime, satire and factual to black-and-white drama

What’s it about...

Ray S1

Feels Like Ishq S1

Comedy Premium League S1

From satire to psychological thriller, four stories adapted from auteur/writer Satyajit Ray’s short stories

Romcom; an anthology of six stories about the kindling of young love

16 of India’s wittiest entertainers compete in teams to be named the ultimate comedy champs

28 June-4 July

#1

5-11 July

#2

12-18 July

#4

19-25 July

#9

Kota Factory S1

Kota Factory S2

India’s first black-and-white streaming original revolves around Kota – its students, its people and its coaching industry. The show depicts this universe through the eyes of Vaibhav, a vulnerable teenager, and Jeetu Bhaiya, a modern-day Dronacharya

Crime Sto India Detec

Docuseries f criminal inves from the m the crime is r through to c the susp

#3

26 July-1 Aug

#2

2-8 Aug

#6

9-15 Aug 16-22 Aug

#1

23-29 Aug

#1

#10

30 Aug-5 Sept

#7

#3

6-12 Sept

#8

13-19 Sept 20-26 Sept 27 Sept-3 Oct

#2 #8

#2

4-10 Oct

#5

11-17 Oct

#9

18-24 Oct 25-31 Oct 1-7 Nov 8-14 Nov 15-21 Nov Chart by ContentAsia. Source: https://top10.netflix.com (Info available from 28 June 2021)

24

contentasia december 2021

#7


es have been viewed for enough hours to make it to the n then, Ray was #1 for just a single week. Comedy Premium has appeared on the global list of non-English TV shows, ular genre seems to have any more of a chance than any a and romance.

ories: ctives S1

House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths Limited Series

Little Things S4

Call My Agent: Bollywood S1

following stigations moment reported capturing pects

Docuseries examining chilling truths and theories around the deaths of 11 members of a Delhi family

Romcom; a couple in their 20s navigates the ups and downs of work, relationships and finding themselves in contemporary Mumbai

Based on the French TV series Call My Agent!.Four Mumbai talent agents hustle to save their sinking company

#2 #2

#4

#6

#5 #9

#4 #2 #4 #5

25


dataindia

Change agent

Call My Agent: Bollywood, Applause Entertainment/Netflix

India’s content environment, says Applause Entertainment CEO Sameer Nair, is the “ultimate candy shop”. The limitless opportunities unfolding come with their own set of pressures on the country’s storytellers, he tells ContentAsia. Less than 10 of Netflix’s India originals have made it to the streamer’s

the next three to four years, with a strong and broad line up of original

new Top 10 TV lists for India since the most-watched rankings platform

drama and adaptations, feature films, documentaries and animation

launched in November with five months worth of back data.

across streaming platforms.

Call My Agent: Bollywood is the latest of the nine series to have attracted enough hours watched to qualify for the top 10 in India, joining

Netflix’s streaming rivals in India are way less transparent, but, in the absence of performance data, actions speak for themselves.

shows such as House of Secrets: The Burari Deaths (the only India show

In October this year, Applause Entertainment and BBC Studios India

that has made it to the global Top 10 for non-English TV), Kota Factory

announced the return of premium Indian drama, Criminal Justice, to Dis-

seasons one and two, anthology series Feels Like Ishq season 1 and Com-

ney+ Hotstar for a third season. There’s an adaptation of Middle East

edy Premium League, which is the sole Netflix original to have made it to

drama Fauda for India, along with Rudra, the local version of BBC Stu-

number one in its home country. There’s also Crime Stories: India Detec-

dios’ Luther.

tives, season one, a four-episode series that appeared at number seven in the week of its 22 September debut and then sank, never to return.

These follow a ContentAsia Awards 2021 win for Criminal Justice’s second season, Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors (Dec 2020), for Best

For whatever this says (or doesn’t) about the performance of Netflix’s In-

Asian Drama Series for a Regional/International Market. The first season

dia originals in their home market, its ranking on a tiny list distinguishes Call

of Criminal Justice premiered in India in April 2019. The franchise is among

My Agent: Bollywood from the original productions rushing across India.

Hotstar Specials’ most watched shows on Disney+ Hotstar, the compa-

Applause Entertainment, the four-year-old production house behind

nies said, giving no specifics.

this Indian adaptation of the French series, has clearly built on ambitious

The ContentAsia Awards’ win at the end of August was followed in

launch goals in a market that, for all its decades worth of output in a

October by the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s Kim Jiseok Award

market of about 210 million TV homes, is a newcomer to premium drama.

2021 for Indian filmmaker Aparna Sen’s The Rapist, won jointly with Philip-

Today, Applause says its content war chest could top US$500 million in

pines/Japan sports feature, Gensan Punch. Praise for the film was glori-

26

contentasia December 2021


AN

ORIGINAL SERIES

SEASON 1 | 8X60

www.amcstudiosinternational.com


dataindia

Pankaj Tripathi as lawyer Madhav Mishra in Criminal Justice S1-S3

ous. The Rapist, Variety said, was “a deeply affecting portrait of personal trauma and an intelligent examination of social and cultural factors fueling the horrifying prevalence of sexual violence in India”. In the run-up to its award-winning streak, Applause released its 25th premium show, Mayanagari: City of Dreams 2, on Disney+ Hotstar. In a flow of new deals, the company also announced the adaptation of British drama, Guilt, along with its first foray into animation and its first movie slate. Plus there are the beginnings of a documentary strand, hot on the heels of Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, a risky project about a major financial scandal that Applause Entertainment CEO, Sameer Nair, had on his production wish list for 10 years. The series, impossible to produce in a broadcast TV environment, streams on SonyLiv in India. For Nair, things are clearly falling into place. Streaming accelerated

We are getting a chance to tell better stories, to explore taboo themes, to be more gray rather than black or white, to talk about uncomfortable things and we’re getting to do it well. And audiences are reacting well to it.”

options. The pandemic encouraged content sampling. “We are on

Sameer Nair, Applause Entertainment

track” in a market on the right trajectory, he says. Applause’s three new tracks – animation, feature films and documentaries – are part of a studio model that is consciously and strategically format and medium agnostic. Nair says the aim is telling the best stories with as wide a range of story tellers as possible, from veterans to young filmmakers, in different languages from different regions, in a cross-section of formats.

tent also has no borders. That’s the approach”. The animation focus revolves around a partnership with publisher Amar Chitra Katha to adapt 400+ comics. The exclusive multi-genre deal was announced in August this year. “Animation is just one more form of storytelling,” Nair says. Amar Chitra

“We are telling more stories. Not every story can be told in one specific

Katha, in particular, encompasses epic elements – fables and legends,

format... some work better in non-fiction than fiction. Some are better

great heros, brave hearts, valiant women, defenders of the nation, my-

animated. But they are all stories,” Nair says, adding: “We are now living

thology and modern stories... “It’s great material to animate,” he adds.

in a streaming world, which is really a world without borders, where con-

The hope is to appeal to both domestic and international audiences.

28

contentasia December 2021



dataindia

At the same time, drama is very likely to remain Applause’s mainstay. “We love drama... and there’s a really big pipeline coming up”, including a slate of returning seasons, such as Criminal Justice season three and a second season of Scam. The company heads into 2022 with more productions on its planner across a wider geographic footprint than at any time in its four-year history. The spike in India’s streaming audience to 50 million homes from between five and 10 million pre-Covid-19, hasn’t pulled Applause off its original path. “I think the big thing that’s happened is that a much larger audience base has sampled and become aware and used to what this

Pratik Gandhi plays Harshad Mehta in Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story

The audience is changing, and I think it’s putting more pressure on us as storytellers. We have to be smarter, more intelligent, more mindful.” Sameer Nair

streaming world is,” Nair says. There’s also the rise of what has become known as the mass-niche. In a non-linear platform you have a different type of content, you have a mass of niches you can cater to. It’s not a one size fits all, it’s not appoint-

ries, to explore taboo themes, to more gray rather than black or white, to

ment-driven viewing. There are all those other behaviours that audiences

talk about uncomfortable things and we’re getting to do it well. And the

in India are now discovering. And they are saying that ‘Wow, this is good.

audiences are reacting well to it.”

We love that we can see different content’,” Nair says. “This allows us to tell new stories, new genres in different languages, ... different genres, different formats, different budgets, different scale” all co-existing on the same streaming platforms, which he describes as “the ultimate content candy shops”.

Nair attributes Applause’s success as much to the effort his team is putting in as to audience evolution and, in turn, the pressure this is putting on storytellers. With Scam, for instance, “we are anyway telling a story, a financial story. We are taking a chance on a period piece. We’re doing all of

The rise of India’s premium drama space has filled the gap between

those things, but the audience has also grown up to respond to us. The

the old and wildly popular pulpy soaps and feature films, opening the

audience is changing, and I think it’s putting more pressure on us as sto-

opportunity to “tell better stories, [with] more layers... We have more

rytellers. We have to be smarter, more intelligent, more mindful,” he says.

time. We are able to do that”.

He’s not forgetting more socially conscious. “You know, entertainment

It’s all part of the different languages India’s filmmakers are beginning

is one thing, but there also has to be some degree of sensitivity, gender

to speak. “Our movie required us to speak in a different language. A

equality... We have to address the social issues that surround us... we

daily soap opera makes you speak in a different language. A large mass

can’t be blind to all this.”

audience looks to react differently from a large niche audience. “What is happening is that we are getting a chance to tell better sto30

“Our job as storytellers is to try and hold a society of the mirror and to try and tell these stories as well as we can.”

contentasia December 2021


Scripted Series / Thriller, 6 x 45’ redarrowstudios.com/international


countrysingapore

Dare devils No. of pay-TV subscribers (000s)

StarHub is betting on a future that’s more meta than physical, with lots of jargon smoothing the transition from lumpy telco to nimble digital hero. Just don’t count pay-TV among its priorities.

394 381

31 Mar 2019

382 374

383 347

30 June 30 Sept 2019 2019

383 329

382 327

31 Dec 2019

31 Mar 2020

380 324

377 321

375 314

375 306

30 June 30 Sept 2020 2020

31 Dec 2020

31 Mar 2021

Singtel TV

StarHub TV+

371 296

368 287

30 June 30 Sept 2021 2021

Source: Financial reports, Singtel & StarHub

Singapore enters 2022 on a predictable course, with 5G the darling child

realising growth without frontiers, and delivering an endless continuum of

at the centre of the action, an abundance of digital sparkle, still in the

experiences that enrich customers’ lives,” StarHub said in the statement

midst of full-blown third-party streaming enchantment accompanied by

that accompanied the Dare+ reveal.

the steady drip-drip of pay-TV households going down the drain.

Among other deliverables, Dare+ relegates yesterday’s jargon –

One of the country’s two leading platforms, StarHub, is as happy as you

remember quad-play? – to its bin of history, replacing it with an “infinity

know it, with a shiny new phase in its transformation from lumpy telco into

play” reflecting the endless potential of the digital universe, including

nimble operator, more meta than physical, with, of course, higher profits.

streaming entertainment and cloud gaming; and a commitment towards

In an eloquent presentation towards the end of November, StarHub CEO,

“all-encompassing super-app platforms...with the aim to offer as many

Nikhil Eapen, unveiled the next phase of the company’s transformation in

services as possible on a self-serve, zero-touch basis”. StarHub’s new

a slick amalgam of words and jargon that points in one direction: more

infinity also includes an enhanced suite of high-value enterprise solutions,

services at less cost. With no layoffs, just a concerted effort to redeploy staff.

including cybersecurity.

Along the way, the 23-year-old communications company plans to shrink

Eapen described Dare+ as “the next giant step for StarHub in our

its physical presence and its call centre teams and roll out what it clearly

transformation journey” and said the company was “laser-focused on

hopes will be simple-to-use services that customers can figure out themselves

growth in all areas”. He charted a course for StarHub that goes “beyond

(aka “self-serve zero touch”) without dialling the dreaded hotline.

telco to becoming a full-on digital life and digital services provider of the

StarHub is targeting S$280 million/US$205.7 million in cost savings plus

most enriching connectivity, entertainment and other lifestyle experiences,

S$220 million/US$161.6 million in gross profit growth cumulatively between

as well as innovative business solutions for our customers, with frictionless

FY2022 and FY2026. The first phase of the transformation journey, dubbed

digital engagement at our core”.

Dare 1.0, delivered cost savings of S$270 million/US$198 million.

A lot is riding on StarHub’s latest Dare. The scorecard so far: the share

The grand aim of the Dare+ strategy, which follows Dare 1.0’s close

price climbed from S$1.28 on 22 Nov (the day of the Dare+ reveal) to

in October 2021, is to “take StarHub from a telco to a company that

S$1.37 on Monday, 29 Nov. This was pretty much the highest it has been

connects digital lives for customers”. “Dare+ anchors on doubling down

since Eapen arrived in January 2021 and level with this time last year. But

on digital across everything StarHub does, accelerating value creation,

the 54% drop over five years says there’s a long way to go yet.

32

contentasia december 2021


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formatsoutlook2H2021

Lagu Cinta Kita S3 hosts Kamal Adli and Ain Edruce, Media Prima, TV3 Malaysia

Update: Formats in Asia

Format commissions in Asia continue to drop, plummeting 42% in the six months to end June 2021 compared to the same six months last year. ContentAsia’s ongoing Formats Outlook counted 127 formats on air or commissioned during 1H 2021, compared to 218 in 1H last year. Another 20 at least were added in the second half, indicating that, by volume at least, 2021 may not count as a decent year.

The number of formats commissioned or on air in Asia in the first six months of this year fell a dramatic 41.7% compared to the same period last year, according to ContentAsia’s 1H 2021 Formats Outlook. We’re blaming Covid-19 for much of the devastation, but it’s also difficult to ignore the slide in volume that preceded the pandemic every year for the last four years. The drop in volume from 2017 to first half 2021 was 55.4%; that’s 158 fewer formats this year than we counted four years ago. The good news is that interest in scripted formats has never been higher, driven mostly by streaming platforms fast-tracking time to

five of these are from the Philippines, see page 36). One of the other nine was from Indonesia, which added Indonesia’s Next Top Model S2 (ViacomCBS) on 4 Nov 2021. The series airs on freeTV channel Net TV. Vietnam also added one – singing contest Singer Auction Vietnam S4, based on the NBCUniversal format. Thailand added one too – science fiction series Switch On, a remake of MBC’s Korean drama W – Two Worlds Apart. The series premiered on Thailand’s Channel 3 on 19 November. Japan added two – comedy series No Activity (Australia’s Jungle

screen, and India has overtaken traditional leaders such as Thailand

Entertainment) and MBC Korea’s romcom drama She Was Pretty, which

and Vietnam as the top formats market by volume.

aired from 9 July to 14 September on Fuji TV.

We’ve tracked another 20 formats aired/commissioned from June to mid-November. The bulk of these are from India, which added 11 titles; 34

Four other markets – China, Korea, Mongolia and Malaysia – added formats to their schedules in the second half of 2021.

contentasia december 2021


Congratulations to Recipients of the 2021 MPA APSA Academy Film Fund

Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand) for 9 Temples to Heaven)

Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II (Philippines) for The Spellcaster of Tamontaca

Dea Kulumbegashvili (Georgia) for Historia

Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (Islamic Republic of Iran) for Red Mist Descending

The MPA APSA Academy Film Fund – conceived through a partnership between the Motion Picture Association and the Asia Pacific Screen Academy – this year celebrates its 12th Anniversary, and in its time has received over 1,000 submissions from 52 Asia Pacific countries and areas. The Film Fund has unearthed some of the brightest gems to reach our screens and helped to shape the careers of some of the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers. 2020 Recipients

Annemarie Jacir (Palestine)

2019 Recipients

Guillaume de Seille (France)

2018 Recipients

Semih Kaplanoğlu (Turkey)

Mai Meksawan (Thailand)

Olga Khlasheva (Kazakhstan)

Ifa Isfansyah (Indonesia)

Rachel Leah Jones (Israel)

Catherine Fitzgerald (New Zealand)

Vladimer Katcharava (Georgia)

Annemarie Jacir (Palestine)

Ami Drozd (Israel)

Cliff Curtis (New Zealand)

Signe Byrge Sørensen (Denmark)

Robert Connolly (Australia)

Rajit Kapur (India)

Guy Davidi (Israel)

Zeynep Özbatur Atakan (Turkey)

Suha Arraf (Israel, Palestine)

Maryam Ebrahimi (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Dechen Roder (Bhutan)

Park Joo-Young (Republic of Korea)

Rolf de Heer (Australia)

Emir Baigazin (Kazakhstan)

Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi Arabia)

Jeannette Paulson Hereniko (United States of America)

Ainsley Gardiner (New Zealand)

Reis Çelik (Turkey)

Peng Tao (People’s Republic of China)

Asghar Farhadi (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Sergey Dvortsevoy (Kazakhstan)

2013 Recipients

Jafar Panahi (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Dror Moreh (Israel)

Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (Bangladesh)

2011 Recipients

Kath Shelper (Australia)

Delphine GardeMroueh (France)

2016 Recipients

2014 Recipients

2012 Recipients

Mohammad Rasoulof (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Bianca Balbuena (Philippines)

2017 Recipients

2015 Recipients

Surabhi Sharma (India)

Ridham Janve (India)

Garin Nugroho (indonesia)

2010 Recipients

Shawkat Amin Korki (Iraq)

Pryas Gupta (India)

Payman Maadi (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Lee Chang-dong (Republic of Korea)


formatsoutlook2H2021

Aafat-E-Ishq, Zee5

Formats by genre in India, 1H 2021

Formats: India

Reality - Cooking 17%

Drama

Game Show 9% India leads Asia’s formats activity at the moment, with 11 new adaptations – the highest additions among 19 countries tracked in ContentAsia’s

Reality - Social Experiment 43%

Formats Outlook – on air or commissioned in the second half of 2021. The

Reality Competition 9%

2021 total for India, which had 23 formats (18.1%, or air/commissioned) in Jan-June 2021, has now risen to 35 (as of 20 Nov 2021), with the possibility of a few more before year end. Five of the new remake rights deals are theatrical movie titles from the Philippines’ ABS-CBN Film Productions acquired by India’s Global One Source: Distributors/rights holders, titles/seasons either on air or commissioned by broadcasters or platforms in 19 countries/markets, ContentAsia Formats Outlook 1H2021

Studios. The films are: Barcelona: A Love Untold, about two Filipinos, struggling to overcome their pasts, who fall in love in Spain; Can’t Help Falling In Love, about a woman who is engaged but discovers she is already married; Crazy Beautiful You, about a rebellious teen sent to a medical

2021) or Thailand (15 in 1H 2021 and +1 in 2H 2021) catch up in the re-

mission camp and falls for a politician’s son; coming-of-age romcom,

maining weeks of this year.

She’s Dating The Gangster; and The Hows Of Us, about two young people who dream of growing old together. The other new adaptations are thriller/legal drama Criminal Justice S3

India had an average of 24 titles in the last four years – 26 titles in 1H 2017, 22 in 1H 2018, 26 in 1H 2019, 25 in 1H 2020, and ranked either third or fourth among 19 countries.

and mystery thriller Guilt from BBC Studios, produced by Applause Enter-

Despite all the activity around drama, reality was the big winner in In-

tainment/BBC Studios India; Ray Donovan from Showtime, produced by

dia in the first half of this year, driven by 10 versions of Bigg Brother. Banijay

Locomotive Global for Netflix; romcom The Baker and the Beauty from

Rights holds the lion’s share of India’s formats market, with 16 titles, includ-

Keshet International, produced by Annapurna Studios for Telugu streamer

ing four versions of MasterChef India signed by South India’s Sun Network

aha; Aafat-E-Ishq, the adaptation of Hungarian film Liza, the Fox Fairy by

in the first half of this year.

Zee Studios (premiered 29 Oct on Zee5); and comedy Call My Agent:

Drama was second with five titles – Out of Love India S2 (a remake

Bollywood, a remake of French TV series Call My Agent! from France

of BBC Studios’ Dr Foster), crime drama Rudra – The Edge of Darkness

Télévisions. There’s also the Indian version of Yes Studios’ Israeli drama,

(adapted from BBC Studios’ Luther), One of Us India (adapted from BBC

Fauda, a multi-layered story of conflict and struggle against a backdrop

Studios’ 2017 thriller, One of Us), psychological thriller Cheat India (from

of political tension; the series started production in 2020.

All3Media’s British series Cheat) and the eight-episode Criminal Justice

With 35, India could well emerge as the top country by volume for 2021, unless of course Vietnam (which had 22 in 1H 2021 and +1 in 2H

36

India: Behind Closed Doors S2 (which premiered with a full-season simultaneous upload on Hotstar in Dec 2020).

contentasia december 2021


New Series

©2021 Shortcake IP Holdings LLC.


China’s Got Talent, Fremantle/ formatsoutlook2H2021 Syco Entertainment

Sing

Formats: China At the end of October this year, TikTok took the leap into big-budget long-form content for the first time, paying millions for its share of the new season of proven property, China’s Got Talent, which it backed with mainland Chinese satellite channel, Jiangsu TV. Broadcast/streaming details of the licensing deal for season seven were a long time coming. The original agreement between Fremantle, Syco Entertainment and Chinese production house Star Canxing was announced last year. Now, the 11-episode season, known locally as Dian Zan Da Ren Xiu (点赞达人秀), is soaring high and fast, rising from 100 million to 460 million cumulative views on TikTok China in its first three episodes (31 Oct, 7 Nov and 14 Nov). New episodes air on Sundays at 9pm slot across Jiangsu TV and TikTok China. On Jiangsu TV, China’s Got Talent attracted 15 million viewers across the premiere episode, broadcast on 31 Oct and all repeats. The second episode, aired on 7 Nov, was the highest-rated prime-time entertainment show across free-to-air, satellite and pay-TV channels, more than

Humans China, Banijay Rights

doubling the broadcaster’s prime-time average audience for young adults 15-44/15-35 and up +95% on the prime-time share for total viewers, according to data released by Fremantle. The episode also generated 380 million hits on the topic of ‘Got Talent’ across Chinese social

ning of a new presence in big-budget format entertainment in China,

networks, including Weibo and Baidu (as of 16 Nov 2021).

following in the footsteps of Tencent Video. TikTok had not at press time an-

China’s Got Talent season seven is the first version of the talent show licensed to China after Fremantle’s 2019 restructure, which shifted

nounced any additional format acquisitions. The last version of China’s Got Talent aired from Aug-Oct 2019 on Drag-

China from a production to a licensing market. The new deal was

on TV and Tencent Video. Another of Fremantle’s recent deals in China

brokered by Fremantle’s Singapore-based Asia licensing operation,

for the Got Talent format was also in 2019 with World’s Got Talent on

headed by Ganesh Rajaram.

Hunan TV.

The TikTok pick up could be significant in that it could herald the begin-

38

China also stepped up this year for game show, Lego Masters, which

contentasia december 2021


China Source: Distributors/rights holders, titles/seasons either on air or commissioned by broadcasters or platforms in 19 countries/markets, ContentAsia Formats Outlook 1H2021

ging contest 20%

Drama 30%

Formats by genre in China, 1H 2021

Game Show 50% premiered on mainland Chinese provincial free-TV satellite station, Shenzhen TV on 17 Sept. The series ran to 19 Nov this year. Lego Masters China (10x1.5-hour) features pairs of lego builders competing against each other to impress judges with inspiring designs and brick builds. The Chinese remake, commissioned from Long Qing Media and brokered by William Tan’s China-based Huo Yuan Media, is the first Asian adaptation of the Banijay Rights’ format. The second Asian version is currently being made in Korea by free-TV broadcaster MBC. Other versions in the region are Australia (Nine Network) and New Zealand (TVNZ 2). Lego Masters China is among five game show formats featured in China in ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook 1H 2021 report. The other four are three seasons (S4, S5, S6) of game show, Puzzle Masters, from Banijay Rights and the eighth season of game show, Pharaoh! China S8, adapted from Japanese Nippon TV. Drama adaptations in China this year were Step Dave China from All3Media international, sci-fi series Humans China from Banijay Rights, and romantic drama Matrimonial Chaos from Fuji TV. Singing contests were All Together Now China S1 and Sing Or Spin S2, both from Banijay Rights. With the addition of China’s Got Talent, this brings the total number of titles aired/commissioned in China this year to 11 (as of 25 Nov 2021).

sales@atresmediatv.com

39


formatsoutlook2H2021

One Ordinary Day, Coupang Play/Viu

Mic on Debt off Malaysia, Workpoint Group Thailand

Korea

Talkshow 13%

Formats: Korea

Movie (Theatrical) 12%

Formats by genre in Korea, 1H 2021 Drama 75%

Korea’s homegrown streamer, e-commerce giant Coupang’s year-old Coupang Play, premiered its first original series, One Ordinary Day, on Saturday (27 Nov 2021), with a simultaneous release on regional streaming platform, Viu, with an R21 ratings. An adaptation of BBC Studios’ legal thriller Criminal Justice, One Or-

Source: Distributors/rights holders, titles/seasons either on air or commissioned by broadcasters or platforms in 19 countries/markets, ContentAsia Formats Outlook 1H2021

In addition to One Ordinary Day, Korean producers added at least six

dinary Day was produced by Chorokbaem Media (Penthouse, Rookie

other scripted adaptations to their slates this year in a format environ-

Historian Goo Hae Ryung), Studio M and Gold Medalist (It’s Okay to Not

ment dominated by drama.

Be Okay), and written by Kwon Soon-gyu (The Royal Gambler, Warrior Baek Dong Soo, Jackpot). The eight-episode series, directed by Lee Myung-woo (Punch, The

By genre, drama dominates formats in Korea with six titles, including British comedy series Uncle (TV Chosun); legal drama The Split (JTBC), also from the U.K.; political drama Undercover (JTBC), based on the BBC

Fiery Priest, Backstreet Rookie), airs new episodes on Saturdays and Sun-

Studios series; medical/romance drama The Voices from Japan’s Fuji TV;

days at midnight.

and sports/romance show, Pride (CJ ENM) from Fuji TV.

One Ordinary Day stars Kim Soo Hyun (It’s Okay to Not Be Okay) as col-

ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook for the first half of 2021 puts Korea in

lege student Kim Hyun Soo, who becomes a murder suspect after one in-

eighth place (neck and neck with Mongolia) by volume, with eight titles

toxicated night. As Hyun Soo begins to resign himself to his fate, a sub-par

aired/commissioned in the first six months of this year. This is a 6.3% share of

lawyer, Shin Joong Han (played by Cha Seoung Won), offers to represent

the total 127 formats on air or commissioned in Asia during the six months.

him. Against all odds, the pair struggles to bring about justice and reveal the real perpetrator. The remake is not the first for Coupang Play. The streamer has also adapted NBCUniversal’s late-night talk show, Saturday Night Live Korea,

2018 was Korea’s top performance year for formats, with 13 episodes/ seasons and 2017 was the lowest with six. We counted 10 in the first half of 2019, and nine in the same period in 2020. The latest addition from Korea is a local version of Banijay Rights’ com-

which it premiered on 4 Sept. Saturday Night Live Korea originally aired

petition reality format, Lego Masters, which was greenlit by Korean free-

on tvN in 2011-2017.

TV broadcaster MBC, in Oct 2021.

Coupang Play, which also offers Hollywood movies, documentaries

The show, likely to be the sole non-Korean unscripted format on free-

and animation, among other genres, is offered for free to Coupang’s

TV in Korea, is currently being co-produced by L.A./Seoul-based B&C

premium members.

Content with MBC. The Korean version is the second in Asia after China’s

One of Asia’s most vibrant original drama markets, Korea nevertheless cherry picks scripted formats here and there. 40

Shenzhen TV; the finale aired on 19 Nov. Versions have also been made in Australia with New Zealand to follow. contentasia december 2021



formatsoutlook2H2021

The Noise Mongolia, Fremantle

Formats: Mongolia

Mongolia

Formats by genre in Mongolia, 1H 2021

Mongolia has long been a relatively healthy market for formats acquisitions, with an experimental spirit and a high appetite for testing new titles. The country had eight titles aired/commissioned in the first six months of the year, with one more added in early November. This is likely to bring 2021’s total format count to nine for Mongolia (as of 23 Nov 2021). The new addition is ITV Studios’ singing talent show, The Voice of Mon-

Talkshow 13% Reality Social Experiment 13%

Dance contest 12% Drama 12%

golia season three. Privately owned Mongolian broadcaster, Mongol TV, has scheduled the show to premiere in the first quarter of 2022. Broadcast details had not been disclosed at presstime. The Voice of Mongolia S1 debuted on Mongol TV on 21 January 2018 (22 eps), followed by a second season (26 eps), which aired from 19 January to 14 June 2020. Season two was preceded by a special New Year’s Eve preview of episode one on Mongol TV. In Asia, local versions of The Voice have been sold/aired in, among

Game Show 50%

others, Indonesia (MNC), Vietnam (VTV, plus the kids version), Thailand (Channel 3, plus the kids version), India (on Disney+ Hotstar/StarPlus, plus the kids version) and a teen spin off, Filipino’s The Voice Teens in the Philippines on ABS-CBN. Other formats acquired by broadcasters in Mongolia include an-

Source: Distributors/rights holders, titles/seasons either on air or commissioned by broadcasters or platforms in 19 countries/markets, ContentAsia Formats Outlook 1H2021

other of ITV Studios’ catalogue, game show 5 Gold Rings (premiered Oct 2021 on Central Television); BBC Studios’ Dancing With the Stars (Q1 2021 on Mongol TV); All3media International’s CashCab and Cash at Your Door S2 (2020, EduTV); Fremantle’s Total BlackOut (EduTV) and The Noise (EduTV); and Banijay Rights’ factual entertainment series, Secret Life Of 5 and 6 Year Olds Mongolia S2 (Sept 2020, Mongol TV), according to ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook 1H 2021 report.

42

By genre, game shows lead in Mongolia, with half of the eight formats titles aired/commissioned. Reality (social experiment) and talk shows accounted for 13% each, followed by dance contest and drama with 12% each.

contentasia december 2021


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formatsoutlook2H2021

Formats: Malaysia

The Masked Singer Malaysia, Astro

Malaysia continues to pile into Korean entertainment, riding the boom with adaptations of five titles from Korea in the first six months of the year. One more was added in October, bringing the total number of Korean

Lagu Cinta Kita season three participants Kay and Ika

formats aired/commissioned in 2021 to six of the total nine remakes in the market for the year (as of 24 Nov 2021).

For in M

Hybrid singing/dating contest, Lagu Cinta Kita season three, is the latest add-on to Malaysia’s 1H 2021 match making.

list. Co-produced by Media Prima’s TV3

The first season of LCK debuted in

and Motion Content Group, the eight-

Malaysia in April 2019, with the first five

episode prime-time show premiered on 31

episodes offered only on TV3’s official You-

Oct on free-TV network TV3. The finale is set to air on 19 Dec this year. Lagu Cinta Kita (aka LCK), which airs Sun-

Meerqeen as Haqeem and Wanna Ali as Adira, Angkara Cinta, Astro

days at 9pm, is a local remake of CJ ENM’s Love at First Song. The format matches people looking for their soulmates through musical taste. The pair practice together without

Tube channel and the finale (episode six) on free-TV station, TV3. Season two returned to TV3 on 8 Nov 2020 (finale on 3 Jan 2021), streamed

live in HD on both Tonton and YouTube. Season two of Lagu Cinta Kita garnered a high 3.84 million

seeing each other. On the day of their duet, they lay eyes on each

viewers (source; Nielsen, provided by TV3) for its sixth episode on

other for the first time and decide whether to stop... or go on to com-

20 Dec last year and trended on social media with 707,430 total

pete with other couples in the final competition.

unique views.

While most of the original elements were maintained in Lagu

Season three, which opened registrations from 24 July to 25 Sept

Cinta Kita, TV3 made adjustments to the challenges, tasks and per-

this year, hit three million viewers for its premiere episode on 31 Oct

formances to comply with Shariah/Islamic laws governing dating/

(source: Nielsen).

44

contentasia december 2021

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Singing/Dating contest 12%

romantic drama, Tayong Dalawa (The Two of Us), from ABS-CBN. ABS-CBN’s original ran in the Philippines and worldwide between Jan and Sept 2009. The Malaysian series, Angkara Cinta, which initially ran for 70 epi-

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tween RM50,000/US$11,827 and

sodes. The drama ended with its 115th episode on 9 April 2021.

RM20,000/US$4,730.

rmats by genre Malaysia, 1H 2021

Another successful remake is the Malay adaptation of Philippines’

Drama 25%

Season three is co-hosted by host/model/actress Ain Edruce (Cannot Brain) and host/actor

2020 as Astro Prima’s top drama. Angkara Cinta is about two men who share the same name – Luq-

Kamal Adli (Black S1/2). The

man Haqeem bin Razlan – but live different lives. The two – Luqman

jury panel is led by singers/

(played by Hun Haqeem) and Haqeem (played by Meerqeen) – are

composers Ajai and Mas Idayu.

actually the children of the same father. Conflict escalates when they

Another notable Malaysian adaptation of a Korean format is the blockbuster singing/mystery show, The Masked Singer Malaysia.

ng contest 63%

The decision to extend the show’s 6pm weekday run on drama channel Astro Prima followed its wild success in 2020, rising to end

Astro has signed up for two new seasons (S2 & S3) with MBC Korea. Season two (11 episodes) is currently in production, according to ContentAsia’s Format Outlooks 1H 2021 report.

The first season (eight episodes) premiered on Astro Warna/HD on 18 Sept 2020 and ran to 6 Nov 2020. A special one-off festive raya edition, The Masked Singer Malaysia Reunion, which gathered all S1 participants and jurors, was aired in May 2021.

also fall in love with the same woman, Adira (played by Wanna Ali). Angkara Cinta is directed by Hadith Omar and produced by Juita Viden. The writers team is led by Amor Rizan and Rehal Nuharis. By genre, singing competition formats topped the list in Malaysia in the first half of 2021. These are Lagu Cinta Kita S2 (from Korea’s CJ ENM), The Masked Singer Malaysia S2 & S3 (MBC Korea), I Can See Your Voice S4 (CJ ENM), Mic On Debt Off S2 (Thailand’s Workpoint), and All Together Now Malaysia S1 (Banijay Rights). Drama was second with two titles – Angkara Cinta and season two of supernatural series Black, which was commissioned out of Viu’s Malaysia office and premiered on the streaming platform in June this year. CJ ENM holds the lion’s share of Malaysia’s formats market, with three titles (Black S2, I Can See Your Voice S4 and Lagu Cinta Kita S2).

45


chinadrama Chang Ge Xing (The Long Ballad), China Huace Film & TV

46

contentasia december 2021


chinadrama

Ebbs and flows Much is being asked of premium Chinese drama producers in chasing Korea’s Hallyu with a C-wave of their own. It’s a high-stakes story filled with soaring demand, powerful players, fierce rivals, seemingly insurmountable hurdles, critical turning points, ardent desires, moral choices and political considerations.

Chinese streamer iQiyi’s share price might be down by about 70% in the past year, but Chinese drama’s stock is rising fast, powered by demand from regional and global streamers and talk of a C-Wave with the potential to match Korea’s K-Wave. The billion-dollar questions are less about whether (or not) this is wishful thinking than about the political influences that could drive (or derail) the rise of Chinese drama to K-drama levels globally. And then there’s this: How much of this Chinese content will come from within mainland China in 2022? And how much of it will come from neighbouring Mandarin-speaking markets?

The global appetite for C-content is encouraging. One in three respondents actively seek out and watch C-content, and 50% would recommend this content to others.”

China hands are keeping a close eye on the ideological tightening

Kuek Yu-Chang VP, International Business, iQiyi

that has swept the mainland. This is the other C-wave – a dial-back to traditional Communist ideals and a fierce effort to protect the country’s cultural heart. The incoming tide is levelling celebrities, waging war on what Party bosses view as damaging hedonistic excesses, and, among

on the promise of premium drama with the ability to travel. And it’s all

other restrictions, squeezing men into a stereotypical macho male box,

playing out to the soundtrack of media authorities extolling the island’s

forcing them to lose the make-up, the hair and anything else associated

freedoms and advantages.

with “sissy boys”. Given the immense power of China’s state media apparatus and a finely tuned censorship/approvals process already in place, it’s hardly

With the world’s biggest population and hundreds of millions of TV homes, are mainland China's media authorities concerned about global TV pick ups and overseas video audiences? Our feeling: Not at all.

difficult to predict the outcome: a boom in mainland Chinese content

So, while all that unfolds in 2022, Chinese drama is enjoying the

heavily aligned with strict government guidelines on socialist values and

same streaming-driven demand spike as drama from everywhere. This

ethics.

is fuelled by the premise that the next global blockbuster could come

Much remains to-be-seen as the latest rules play out. For instance, who outside of China will watch the next generation of premium Chinese

from anywhere, following in the footsteps of Korea’s Squid Game and Hellbound and Spain’s Money Heist.

programming, produced under an even more watchful Party eye?

Mainland Chinese players are among those who have taken a

Who stands to gain the most if mainland Chinese stories fail to engage

storytelling cue from their competitors overseas. While Chinese TV has

regional/international audiences?

long had a reputation for prioritising quantity over quality, tastes have

This second question is easier to answer than the first.

turned to creating punchy mini-series more likely to translate easily across

Taiwan, which is enjoying a C-Wave of its own albeit with much lower

cultures. Budgets have also soared.

production budgets, has international recognition in its cross-hairs. The

Among the new generation of Chinese originals is Light On, part of

creative industry, heavily backed by the region’s most progressive

iQiyi’s suspense series slate. Dai Ying, iQiyi vice president and Light On’s

government, is focused on co-productions, and is already delivering

lead producer, says the project’s success is the result of its commitment

contentasia december 2021

47


chinadrama

The Ferryman: Legends of Nanyang, iQiyi

to quality, innovation, and exploring universal themes. He describes the show as “a eulogy for justice”, which, he adds, “makes it particularly touching”. Two of the five nominations for this year’s ContentAsia Awards category for Best Asian Drama Series for a Regional/International Market were lavish mainland Chinese dramas – Chang Ge Xing (The Long Ballad) from China Huace Film & TV for Tencent Video and Shandong TV and Go Ahead from China Huace Film & TV for Hunan TV and Mango TV.

We’re doing cultural export and following good ideas.” Ben Lai Founder, Yam Cultural Ltd

The 49-episode period drama, Chang Ge Xing, is an epic story about the daughter of a former crown prince who escapes a military coup

an 85% audience share of young/wealthy audiences in Hong Kong, and

and, through war, conflict, political skullduggery and exile, is finally able

this year has stepped up variety and live-streaming e-commerce efforts,

to put aside her personal grievances and both protect the peace of the

including shows such as singing contest, Stars Academy, and variety

Tang Dynasty and find true love. The series, released on 31 Mar 2021, airs

series, Dub-of-War. TVB also operates streaming platform, myTV Super,

on Tencent Video in China, simulcast on multiple platforms in the region.

which had 9.5 million registered users in mid-2021 and continues to invest

Go Ahead is a modern drama about three unrelated children in China

in its own slate of original first-window content. The company, which saw

who develop a sibling-like bond after living under one roof. However, the

revenue from mainland China drop from HK$356 million/US$45.7 million

damage caused by their original families remains, and old wounds resurface

to HK$298 million/US$38.2 million in the first half of 2021, said it expects

when blood relatives come crashing back into their lives. Go Ahead,

co-production initiatives in China to ramp up again in 2022 as travel

released on 10 Aug 2020, has also aired across platforms in Asia and globally.

restrictions ease.

The series, producers say, means “overseas audiences can have better

To, who was TVB’s deputy general manager of drama production and

understandings about real lives of ordinary Chinese families, and their

programming when he left, has been linked with a long string of TVB’s

understandings of love and family”.

successes, including 30-episode police drama The Defected (2019),

The streaming platforms leading the current Chinese premium drama

starring Wai-Ho Yung and Kara Wai, and new horror series, Barrack

boom are Tencent Video/WeTV and iQiyi, both of which have strong

O’Karma 2, as well as the Hong Kong broadcaster’s closer alliance with

pipelines from their mainland HQ to power international expansion. Both

mainland platform Youku. His new slate for Viu had not been disclosed

are ramping up production activities outside of China.

at presstime.

2022 is likely to see PCCW-owned streamer Viu step up its Chinese

No stranger to Chinese content, the Hong Kong-based Viu has been

drama originals under newly appointed head of originals, Felix To, who

strategically broadening its streaming playbook beyond its beginnings

joined the company in September 2021 from Hong Kong's dominant

as the home of Korean drama; the platform launched six years ago with

broadcaster, Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB).

exclusive streaming deals with all of Korea’s major studios.

TVB, once seen as the worlds foremost Chinese drama producer, retains

48

In July this year, Viu announced a 2,000-hour deal for 67 Chinese

contentasia december 2021


Put Your Head On My Shoulder, Yam Cultural

dramas from mainland China’s Huace Film and TV and Huace Croton Media.

A survey iQiyi commissioned in 26 countries earlier this year found that 75% of the 5,200 respondents had sampled Chinese entertainment

The Chinese titles, designed to cement Viu’s branding as the streaming

during the past two years. “More than half of them had done so in the

home of Asian drama across seven markets in the region, include Eternal

past six months, showing that C-content is a fairly recent trend,” Kuek

Love, The Princess Wei Young, Love O2O and Love and Destiny. These

says, adding: “The global appetite for C-content is encouraging. One

follow series such as Eternal Love of Dream, A Love So Beautiful, My

in three respondents actively seek out and watch C-content, and 50%

Amazing Boyfriend 2 and The Brightest Star in the Sky. Many, including

would recommend this content to others.”

Beijing Television/Tencent Video's Novoland: Pearl Eclipse, air on Viu at the same time as in China.

Chinese streamers’ international growth plans are not without incident though. Popular period dramas, Story of Yanxi Palace and Ruyi’s Royal

At home in Hong Kong, free-TV domestic channel ViuTV is also enjoying

Love in the Palace, have been yanked off air in a mainland Chinese

ratings highs with shows like Ossan’s Love, a 15-episode 2021 adaptation

action against period dramas that portrayed palace life in ways that

of Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi’s 2018 Boys Love (BL) love-triangle

clashed with official accounts.

comedy about an office worker whose failed love life seems to be turning

Blockbuster variety show, Youth With You, also fell foul of regulators in

around when both his married boss and his roommate confess their

May 2021 in the midst of a raging scandal, accompanied by social media

romantic feelings for him. The show, starring Edan Lui, made headlines

outrage, over milk wastage. iQiyi was quick to respond. “We sincerely

for its gay theme.

apologise for our missteps and promise to continue to do better for our

While all this could change in the wake of China’s tighter content policies, significant effort is going into building on the strength of current mainland content and expanding opportunities abroad.

users,” iQiyi said on its social media feeds confirming the cancellation of the show and thanking fans for their support for the latest season. The root of the milk-wastage scandal was that viewers were buying

In December 2020, iQiyi set up an international office in Singapore, to

sponsor Mengniu’s milk just to get the QR code in the cap of the bottle

drive regional and international growth. Part of the plan is to leverage its

so that they could vote for their favourite trainees – and then pouring

slate of Chinese-language content across the region. In a bid to drive its

the milk into sewers. Production was suspended soon after it became

own expansion, Tencent/WeTV acquired the best bits of failed regional

clear that the unintended results of the show’s competition element was

streamer iflix, including some of Indonesia’s best dramas.

inconsistent with mainland China’s government-backed campaign and

The potential rewards are huge. The global streaming market is

new laws against food wastage.

predicted to be worth nearly US$150 billion by 2026, according to U.S.

Such incidents make it harder for Chinese streaming platforms to win

research firm, Allied Market Research. The Asia-Pacific market is set to

over audiences overseas, as viewers are less willing to commit to shows

grow 24.7% a year over the next five years.

that may disappear at short notice. It also erodes buyer confidence.

Kuek Yu-Chuang, iQiyi's vice president of international business, is

This is where Taiwan could win. Although the country’s drama has not

adamant that Chinese content is more than ready for global audiences

yet hit the scale of mainland China, Taiwanese authorities have rolled

outside of the Mandarin-speaking diaspora.

out an unprecedented charm offensive to raise the island’s creative

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chinadrama

profile and attract co-production partners. The arrival of U.S.-based global streamers and their upsized competition-driven initiatives has only upped the ante. When it unveiled its new Asia slate in October, Disney+ included three Chinese shows – period rom-com, Delicacies Destiny, from veteran producer Yu Zheng (Story of Yanxi Palace); family drama Min's Family; and Sun Hao’s Joy of Life 2, produced by New Classic Media. Netflix has released its own slate of Chinese-language acquisitions, including More than Blue: The Series, Zero to Hero, Upcoming Summer, and Mom, Don’t Do That!. The

platform

has

also

commissioned

a

big-budget

adaptation of Chinese sci-fi novel, The Three-Body Problem. The series, currently shooting in the United Kingdom, will feature several episodes directed by Derek Tsang, the Hong Kong filmmaker whose feature, Better Days, won an Oscar nomination this year. Meanwhile, the first two episodes of Netflix’s latest Chinese-language release, Light the Night, screened at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in November, followed with the global streaming premiere on 26 November. The 24-episode series, directed by Yichi Lien and written by Cheng Che Tu, is about the hostesses of a popular nightclub in Taipei in 1988. Netflix described Light the Night, starring Ruby Lin, as “a genre mash up of a murder mystery thriller and an emotionally intense drama”. The flow is running in the other direction as well as Chinese streamers compete with regional and global platforms.

Equation and A Little

Go Ahead, China Huace Film & TV

Thing Called First Love. Filmed in Thailand and Beijing, Put

iQiyi's international outreach involves adapting its mainland Chinese

Your Head On My Shoulder stars Thitipoom (New) Techaapaikhun and

IP for audiences in the rest of the region, as well as backing large-scale

Nilawan (Kaimuk) Iamchuasawad in the story of an accounting major

productions out of Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan.

who ends up living with a genius physics student. The 20-episode WeTV

New iQiyi shows this year have included The Ferryman: Legends of

original romantic drama premiered on 26 Sept 2021 and ran to end Oct.

Nanyang, a 36-episode Chinese supernatural series, adapted from

The show primarily targets the Thai market, with additional exposure on

iQiyi’s 2014 classic Mandarin-language series Soul Ferry. The series stars

WeTV in the rest of the world – including China. And it looks like the plan is

Singapore-based mainland Chinese actor Qi Yuwu (The Little Nyonya)

working; the series’ official site on Chinese platform Weibo had 60 million

and Lawrence Wong (Story of Yanxi Palace) as partners on a mission

views as of October this year.

to guide wandering spirits with unfinished business on earth. Another original, Sisterhood, is in the works.

“There has been a tremendous response to this fusion dish,” says Ben Lai, the founder of Hong Kong-based production house, Yam Cultural.

Boosting its Korean drama slate following Backstreet Rookie and Bad

The Thai version is the second production from Yam Cultural Ltd, set

Kids, iQiyi also stumped up a rumoured US$21.5 million (approx US$1.35

up in Hong Kong and Shanghai two years ago. Put Your Head On My

million per episode) for tvN's drama, Jirisan, which gave it exclusive

Shoulder will be followed by When A Snail Falls In Love, adapted from

streaming rights ex-Korea and the right to call the show an iQiyi original.

Chinese writer Ding Mo’s novel. A third Thai-Chinese fusion series, based

In the Philippines, iQiyi has partnered with programming giant ABS-CBN

on the Chinese drama Scarlet Heart, is in the works.

on a slate of co-productions, including romantic musical drama, Lyric

Lai, a veteran distributor who hung up his first production shingle just

and Beat, which will be released worldwide in 2022. Lyric and Beat follows

before Covid-19 hit, talks about the challenges of creating a whole new

young adult series Saying Goodbye and romantic comedy Hello, Heart.

kind of content. “We wanted a Thai-Chinese fusion drama, something

Chinese drama continues to contribute to the new breed of Asian

that is not Thai and not Chinese, but has its own recognisable style, its own

drama: fusion productions, based on Chinese IP, targetting regional

look and feel,” he says. This includes everything from colours, clothing and

audiences. A byproduct of the region’s fast-developing streaming

kissing scenes to a different take on beauty and how wealth is portrayed.

environment, stories such as Yam Cultural’s Put Your Head On My

The end goal is better drama all round. “Thai production is becoming

Shoulder, are forging new paths for premium Asian scripted series.

very strong,” Lai says. “We want to add our expertise, to make better

The 2021 Thai version of China’s 2019 drama, Put Your Head On My

drama in total”. In the end though, Lai says his productions are not bound

Shoulder, is an evolution of the young, sweet coming-of-age romance

by geography but by ideas. “We’re doing cultural export and following

trend that has given rise to shows such as A Love So Beautiful, The Love

good ideas,” he says.

50

contentasia december 2021



productioninterview

Great expectations Hong Kong director Derek Tsang has as many expectations of himself as others have of him. He spoke to Mathew Scott about the momentum driving the industry and his career and why he feels the best is yet to come.

Better Days Photographer: Wei Lun Wong

52

contentasia december 2021


Actress Zhou Dongyu and actor Jackson Yee in Better Days Photographer: Wei Lun Wong

People across the world want a good story... As a filmmaker, I just hope I can improve and do better and greater stuff in the future.”

Derek Tsang is coming off a year like no other, what with a history-making Oscar nomination and now a gig shooting Netflix’s much-anticipated adaptation of the lauded Chinese sci-fi epic, The Three-Body Problem. But still the Hong Kong director believes the future just might get even brighter. Tsang says he feels the “momentum” is building behind his own career as much as it has been for content from across Asia. “Definitely the past couple of years have really felt like there’s a demand for more Asian content, be it feature films or streaming content,” says Tsang. “People across the world want a good story, and sometimes good stories come from a different country. As a filmmaker, I just hope I can improve and do better and greater stuff in the future.”

Derek Tsang

The 42-year-old Tsang started the year out with a Best International Feature Film Oscar (93rd Academy Award, 2021) nomination for his Better Days, a gritty and most contemporary drama set in mainland China and centred around school bullying and minor crimes. It was the first-ever Oscar nomination

Rights to the English-language adaption were secured by Netflix from The Three-Body Universe and Yoozoo Group.

for a Hong Kong film directed by a native

The Three-Body Problem and two sequels are produced by Bighead

Hong Konger, and followed on from the

Littlehead (Game of Thrones) as part of a broad multi-project deal that

haul of nominations Tsang received for

also includes feature film, Metal Lords. The team includes David Benioff

the romantic Soul Mate (2016). Soul Mate

& D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones) and Alexander Woo (True Blood), who

was his first time out as a solo director after

''have experience tackling ambitious sagas over time and space,”

sharing the job with compatriot Jimmy

Netflix said when the series was announced in September 2020.

Wan for rom-com Lacuna in 2012.

Derek Tsang

excited to be part of it.”

Tsang points to recent Asia-led big- and small-screen global

Now comes his first stint working for the

successes such as the Jon M. Chu-directed Crazy Rich Asians and,

world’s biggest streaming platform as Netflix

of course, Squid Game, as indications of how quickly the world has

takes Chinese author Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem global. The Three-Body Problem is a multi-layered epic

that sees humanity preparing for a future alien invasion.

warmed to accessible content from the region’s talent base. “Before, you know, a lot of people would say, our audiences don’t want to read subtitles, they don’t have the patience for that,” says Tsang.

The source material was the first Chinese novel to win the sci-

“But this pandemic has just really proven that to be wrong. So now

fi genre’s prestigious 2015 Hugo Award for its author – streaming

everybody is hungry for international content, not just Asian content,

rivals Tencent Video are also currently working on an adaptation. Speaking from London where he is shooting two episodes of the series, Tsang says he was originally approached for The Three-Body Problem by the team behind HBO’s Game of Thrones. They had seen Better Days and were impressed.

but I mean like a good story that can travel well across different cultures and different nations.” The Three-Body Problem gives Tsang the opportunity to expand his own audience, along with his creative talents. “It’s certainly a learning process for me too, because it’s such a huge

“They were looking for Chinese directors,” he says. “They checked

production,” he says, adding: “There’s a lot of CGI or VFX elements... so

Better Days out, they loved it, and we got together for a Zoom just to

every day, I’m learning a lot from the wonderful people that I work with

meet, and then they really wanted me to hop on board. I’m just super

right now. It’s just been very valuable.”

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A Very British Scandal Based on the infamous 1963 divorce case and sex scandal, A Very British Scandal focuses on the divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll: Ian Campbell and Margaret Campbell. Their public fallout led to one of the most notorious, extraordinary, and brutal legal cases of the 20th Century, which all played out in the white-hot glare of the 1960s media. Length: 3x60 mins Sony Picture Television 2/F, 14 Taikoo Wan Road, Taikoo Shing, Hong Kong T: +852 2913 3772

A Year On Planet Earth

Strawberry Shortcake: Berry in the Big City Strawberry Shortcake has big dreams to “bake the world a better place” which is why she is headed to BIG APPLE CITY! It’s not gonna be easy, but with the help of her new ‘berry besties’, a lucky mixing spoon and her new food truck, Strawberry Shortcake can’t WAIT to show the world what she can do! Length: 80x4 mins WildBrain 25 York St., Suite 1201, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2V5 Canada T: +1 416 363 8034

A Year on Planet Earth is an ambitious and innovative new natural history series, with a unique narrative approach, showcasing the many wonders of the world, revealing the incredible ways in which all life is connected and how massive natural events affect the lives of individual animals. It’s the first time this has been done in a global natural history landmark. Combining extreme weather, breath-taking landscapes, epic wildlife spectacles and lovable animal characters, this series reveals our planet in a completely new light to showcase our planet in all its magic, majesty and fragility. Length: 6x60 mins (Series 1) ITV Studios 31/F Reception, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong T: +852 3665 7370 M: +852 9668 7498

FriendZSpace Alice, Leo and Kim are three best friends who may seem like regular human kids, but behind their normal facade they are risk-taking, deep space friend makers! Each episode follows the three kids as they jet into space in their unpredictable star cruiser, “The Dart”. Accompanied by BotDog (half puppy and half high-tech Swiss army knife) their mission is simple and wonderfully weird: locate planets, find alien kids, introduce themselves, and make friends. But making friends with alien kids is tricky! FriendZSpace is all about kids and kid culture — alien and human— it’s about embracing our differences and getting into exciting trouble in the process! Studio 100 Media Studio 100 Media GmbH, Neumarkter Str., 18-20 81673 Munich, Germany T: +49 89 960 8550

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Screw A prison drama like no other, told through the embattled, inspiring characters who work there. The diverse gang of officers in charge at Long Marsh men’s prison each have their own unique take on the job. Blackly comic, refreshingly absurd, and violently shocking, their stories powerfully reveal that there’s more to life in prison than we know. In charge of C-Wing is Leigh Henry (Nina Sosanya), a career officer who’d do anything for her prisoners – but she has a secret that if discovered, could cost her the job – and even her liberty... Length: 6x60 mins Banijay Rights c/o Endemol Shine Asia Limited, 16th Floor, Lotus Grandeur, Veera Desai Road, Extension, Mumbai – 400053, Maharashtra, India T: +91 22 421 64054

Tavern by the Lethe By the end of their “Underworld lifetime”, the Underworld residents will receive a reincarnation notification, which means the transmigrators have to go to Naiho Bridge and have Bing-po’s special soup to erase all their memories. Later, they cross the River Lethe and go to their next life. Those transmigrators who have regret and pain and refuse to have the soup will get a card from Bing-po and be sent to Bing-po’s Tavern. The staff of the tavern need to fulfill their wishes in seven days, or else they are going to become red spider lilies by the River Lethe. Length: 30x45 mins Wutong Cultural Enterprise Co., Ltd. 6F., No. 916, Zhongzheng Rd., Zhonghe Dist., New Taipei City, Taiwan T: +886 2 8228 1155

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Screenings C

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NTENT ASIA

The Mole, Bomanbridge Media

8-21 March 2021 Page 1.

New Gold Mountain, All3Media International

Undercover, JTBC Studios

Twist of Fate, Kanal D International

ABC News 7.30, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

www.contentasia.tv/screenings

Voice In The Rain, Viu

World World of of Himmapan Himmapan (Pipob (Pipob Himmapan), Himmapan), BEC BEC World World

The Last Wildlife – Anan, Wangpeng & Me, HONG PICTURES

Wife on Duty, JKN Global Media

Be included, contact: Leah at leah@contentasia.tv (Americas and Europe) Masliana at mas@contentasia.tv (Asia, Australia and Middle East) CJ Yong at cj@contentasia.tv (Taiwan and China) www.contentasia.tv

contentasia

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Rebecca

Thistle Maria is going through a major crisis: she has problems with drugs, a toxic relationship with sex, she is broke and dissatisfied with her body. She tries to master her life, but without any real introspection and with a feeling of emptiness that leads her to a total lack of responsibility. After years working as an actress, she decides to leave her world behind and give meaning to her existence by helping a 75-year-old woman to avoid the closure of her flower shop. After a humiliating encounter, she suffers an accident that will force her to face some uncomfortable truths. Length: 6x30 mins (Season 1) Atresmedia Calle Isla de Graciosa, 13. 28073, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid, Spain T: +34 916 230 254

Ana’s Revenge This is the story of Analia Guerrero, a young and beautiful woman who decides to take revenge on the man who killed her mother, Guillermo Leon Mejia, a prominent politician who is running for president. On her path to revenge, Analia faces facts that challenge her decision; however, she will connect with other women experiencing similar situations and she will bring justice in the name of each one of them. Length: 56x60 mins Caracol Televisión 150 Alhambra circle. Suite # 1250. Miami, FL, 33134 U.S. T: +1 305 960 2018

Rebecca follows a tormented yet brilliant Parisian detective who is battling depression and a series of blackouts while piecing together a brutal murder investigation that increasingly brings her inner circle and past investigation into the unfolding story. A fast-paced thriller set in Paris, Rebecca is based on the global hit series Marcella. Anne Marivin (Call My Agent!) takes the lead alongside Benjamin Biolay (Capitain Marleau). A TF1 Original, Rebecca is directed by Didier Le Pêcheur (Innocents) and co-written by Le Pêcheur and Delphine Labouret (Innocents). Length: 8x60 mins Cineflix Rights 1st Floor, 1 Lorenzo Street, London, WC1X 9DJ, U.K. T: +44 (0) 20 3179 5050

The Responder

Da Next Da Next is a no television – all digital talent show format that has taken global TV audiences by storm for decades. An innovative grass-root digital-first talent competition, dedicated to young viewers. Mentors and influencers encourage their fans to audition on Instagram, YouTube and Tik Tok. Two teams of six are chosen to work with a mentor and record a song. Once the recordings are shared on social media, contestants, mentors, influencers and fans race towards the grand finale, to earn the most digital engagement and win the competition. Length: n/a Dori Media Group 2 Raul Wallenberg st, Tel Aviv 6971901, Israel T: +65 8338 3719

The Responder follows Chris (Martin Freeman, The Hobbit, Sherlock, Breeders, Fargo), a crisis-stricken, morally compromised, unconventional urgent response officer tackling a series of night shifts on the beat. Whilst trying to keep his head above water both personally and professionally, Chris is forced to take on a new rookie partner Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo, Unsaid Stories, Timewasters, The Capture). Both soon discover that survival in this high pressure, relentless, night-time world will depend on them either helping or destroying each other. Length: 6x60 mins Fremantle Fremantlemedia Asia Pte Ltd, 3 Fusionopolis Way, #06-21, Symbiosis, Singapore 138633, Singapore T: +65 6307 7226

Kamaz. Extreme Racing Screeching sands, overheating engines, life-shattering accidents and courage – all of it came together in this brand-new sports drama. Based on the real stories from Kamaz Master racing team and played by top stars, the series grips viewers from the first scene and won’t let go until the last moments. The lives of ‘Tsars of Dakar’ are fascinating and dramatic. Add the generation conflict, the first female racer, impossible romances and spectacular stunts – and you’ll get a real show-stopper. Length: 8×48 mins NTV Broadcasting 12, Akademika Koroleva Str., 5 Argunovskaya st., 127427 Moskow, Russia T: +7 495 725 5146

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Next of Kin

Water Fortress

China Tonight Presented by journalists Stan Grant and Yvonne Yong, China Tonight takes a fresh look at news and current affairs from inside China. The series goes beyond the headlines of trade wars, politics, and global posturing to examine the challenges and triumphs, the people, the history, and the ambition. From China’s family planning changes to tensions in Taiwan, the series covers issues from Chinese culture and everyday life, to China’s rise in the world and its impact as a rising power across the Indo-Pacific region. China Tonight launched in 2021 with two 6-episode seasons, and will return on ABC Australia with a fresh new third season in early 2022. Length: 12x30 min (2 seasons) Australian Broadcasting Corporation 700 Harris Street, Ultimo 2007, NSW, Australia T: +61 2 8333 5078

*PHOTO CREDIT: © 2020 Surrealtor Productions Inc./2020 Productions NL Inc./ Duncan de Young

Conquer the Water Fortress to win the cash! The rules are simple: if the players fall in the water, they are out. Contestants face off against each other in a fierce battle to clear the three stages of an obstacle course set up above water. However, their path is blocked by a powerful enemy: the Soldier. Can the players conquer the Fortress and its Soldier to claim the prize money? Length: 2x120 mins Fuji Television Network, Inc. 2 Chome-4-8 Daiba, Minato City, Tokyo137-8088, Japan

Liv, a psychologist suffering from mysterious pains, joins forces with Wolf, a cybersecurity agent, to uncover the true reason why her DNA was recently stolen, ultimately revealing a dark past of genetic tampering. Will Liv’s secret origin become humanity’s biggest threat: or its greatest hope? Length: 8x60 mins (Season 1) A+E Global Content Sales 235 E 45th St, New York, NY 10017, U.S. T: +1 212 210 1400

SurrealEstate

New Gold Mountain Starring Mulan’s Yoson An and Vikings’ Alyssa Sutherland, this historical drama is filled with intrigue, secrets and murder. The series follows a group of compelling, morally grey characters brought together by a mysterious murder during the wild west era of the Australian gold rush. Length: 4x60 mins All3Media International 1 George Street, 10-01, 049145 Singapore T: +65 9459 2139

SurrealEstate is a procedural supernatural drama series about a team of real estate specialists who investigate, discover and correct the unconventional problems that make certain properties difficult to sell. They refer to these properties as “metaphysically engaged”. Most of us would call them haunted houses. What makes the team at The Roman Agency unique – and in demand – is their uncanny ability to investigate and explain the truly inexplicable… and find a solution. Solving the mystery, closing the portal, expelling the demon, putting the tortured soul to rest, those are all just the means to a greater end: A sale. After all, closure is nice – but closings are what The Roman Agency is all about. Length: 10x60 mins LEONINE Studios Taunusstr. 21, 80807 Munich, Germany T: +49 89 999 5130

Around The World In 80 Days A must-see adaptation of Jules Verne’s adventure tale for families around the world. The most ambitious and awaited series ever produced for the European Alliance and multiple public broadcasters. World Premiere at CanneSeries 2021 – Out of Competition. London, 1872. On the day his world is turned upside down by a postcard from a lost love, Phileas Fogg (David Tennant) is inspired by an article about the exciting advances in travel to take on an almost impossible wager – to circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. As a man who has spent the last 20 years in a comfortable leather armchair at The Reform Club, he will need all the resilience he can muster and of course would be nowhere without the assistance of quick-witted Frenchman, Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma). Joining them on the road is the Daily Telegraph journalist who came up with the whole crazy idea in the first place – Abigail Fix (Leonie Benesch). Length: 8x60 mins Federation Entertainment 10, rue Royale 75008, Paris, France T: +33 01 8425 0270

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Guilty Flag

17 Goals for Our World – NHK SDGs Campaign

Even in a peaceful country, thousands of people go missing every year. This series follows a man whose wife and kids suddenly disappear. He frantically searches for them but has no leads. To convince the police to start an investigation, he uses the power of social media to bring their disappearance to the public’s attention. However, speculative minds begin to think that maybe he is the “real” culprit, and all eyes are focused on him as he gets driven into a corner while trying to find answers to the hidden truth. Length: 20x60 mins Nippon TV 1-6-1 HigashiShimbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-7444, Japan T: +81 3 6215 3036

NHK WORLD-JAPAN, long committed to bringing issues of global importance to the forefront, in January 2021 launched a SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) campaign that features programming and a special 17 Goals for Our World series that mirrors the SDGs set forth by the United Nations. The series highlights NHK WORLDJAPAN’s vast collection of premiere and video on demand programmes that maps to each of the 17 goals, which include striving for clean water, health/well-being, education, sustainable cities, and responsible production/consumption; and eliminating poverty, hunger, and social inequalities. Length: n/a NHK WORLD-JAPAN (Japan International Broadcasting Inc.) Nihonseimei Shibuya Annex Building, 1-19-4 Jinnan, Shibuyaku, Tokyo 150-0041, Japan T: +81 3 3464 8911

Firebite Created, directed and written by Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton alongside Brendan Fletcher, Firebite is set in a remote desert mining town, a hive for the last vampire stronghold shipped from Britain to Australia in 1788 by the colonial superpower to eradicate the Indigenous populations. Sheltering from the sun in the underground mines and tunnels that surround the town until the present day, the colony’s numbers and hunger is growing. War is coming. Length: 8x60 mins AMC STUDIOS 2425 Olympic Blvd Suite 400E, Santa Monica, CA 90404, U.S. T: +1 310 998 9300

RATS Based on true stories and made in collaboration with the National Anti-Drug Centre of the Czech Republic (DEA), RATS is a spellbinding series about what happens when bad people play happy families. Nobody wants to end up as a rat for the DEA but David (Cyril Dobrý) didn’t have a choice. After cracking under interrogation, he spills the secrets of the CzechVietnamese Meth syndicates and betrays his best friend Rene (Miloslav Pecháček). With both the mafia and the police after him, he is forced to partner with ambitious police analyst Petra (Lenka Krobotová). As they become more deeply entangled in the web that controls the gateway for meth to pour into Europe, the lines between order and anarchy collapse completely. Length: 6x55 mins GoQuest Media 504, 5th Floor, Morya Classic, Off Link Road, Andheri West, Mumbai, MH 400053, India T: +91 22 495 591 00

Love at the End of the World A suspense BL (Boys’ Love) series exploring the lives of four couples as they navigate through love, pain, loss, romance, forgiveness, redemption, loneliness and sorrow. After reports from NASA confirm that an asteroid is set to hit Earth in seven days resulting in global catastrophe, priorities quickly change and panic ensues. Length: 9x25 mins Portico Media (GagaOOLala) 8F, No. 164, Section 2, Dunhua S Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106, Taiwan T: +886 2 2377 9901

Blackout: Tomorrow Is Too Late As a sudden blackout plunges Europe into darkness, the past catches up with a former hacker in this ambitious new international thriller. Length: 6x45 mins Red Arrow Studios International Medienallee 7, 85774 Unterfoehring, Germany T: +49 89 9507 7303

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Rivalry (Game Prattana)

Three Sisters

Two well-known families – Veerayawanich and Teerakitkankun – have been business rivals for generations. No one can imagine anything different. But when Milin Veerayawanich breaks with tradition and joins hands with Anawin Teerakitkankun in his business, she too has no idea that her pretend love will turn into a real one. Caught up in a dire situation, the pair have to give everything they have to win. Length: 19x85 mins BEC World (Public) Co., Ltd. 3199 Maleenont Tower, Floor 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 30-34, Rama 4 Road, Klongton, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand T: +66 2 022 7395

Based on the 2018 bestseller by acclaimed Turkish author Iclal Aydın, Three Sisters is the story of Türkan, Dönüş and Derya – three sisters who live a charmed life in an old house set amid the olive tree-scented cobblestone streets of Ayvalık. But their fairy-tale upbringing does not prepare them for the grim reality of adulthood, where even those they most trust hide secrets and horrific illnesses dredge up the past. Can time heal? By channeling their past, a journey of recovery begins. Kanal D International Yelda Haber Ve Gorsel Yayincilik, A.S., Demioren Medya Center, 100. Yıl Mah. 2264. Sk. No:1, 34204 Bagcilar, Istabul, Turkey T: +90 212 413 51 11

More Life – Decoding the Secret of Ageing Most people want to live to old age. A study on humans shows that by taking certain medication, they shave an average of two-and-a-half years off their age. The race to crack the human longevity code currently resembles a scientific gold rush, with researchers competing for fame and investors’ favour. We already have the first app, developed in Hong Kong, promising to “protect” us from aging. Is it enough to zap what are known as “zombie” cells, present in all of us? If it’s possible to delay human aging one day, how about reversing the process altogether? Length: 1x52 mins DW Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany T: +49 228 429 2716 (Germany), +60 3 2093 0866 (Asia)

Moley

Coffee Melody Coffee Melody is about Deuneey, a young songwriter who falls in love with a sought-after barista Plengruk. Chanchao, Deuneey’s close friend, promises to play matchmaker. Then Chanchao’s love interest, her college friend Nawa, falls in love with her. Aside from being her current boss, he’s perfect, and Chanchao feels unworthy. Meanwhile, the competitive Deuneey has to battle through Plengruk’s fanclubs to attract attention. Will a love song do the trick? Length: 10x45 mins Mediaplex International Co., Ltd.143/450 Boromrajachonnanee road, Arun-Ammarin, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700, Thailand T: +66 2 884 6170

Inspired by bedtime stories about a magical mole told by the show’s creator to his daughters, the series captures the excitement of missionbased adventures, discovery, silliness and humour that children across the world love. And wraps it in the warmth and comfort of family life. Featuring an all-star cast, it’s perfect family viewing. Length: 52x11 mins Jetpack Distribution Spitalfields House, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, WD6 2FX, U.K. E: kido@jetpackdistribution.tv

Circle Square A circle of houses. A circle of friends. Vanessa the dragon is always ready to help her neighbours. The nine houses are home to a yeti, a dog, owls, talking instruments, two pine trees, a human family, a bear, and a family of wizards. Length: 40x7 mins 9 Story Distribution International Unit 20, Block C, Smithfield Market, Smithfield Dublin 7, D07 PV06, Ireland W: www.9story.com

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Page 12. If you are interested in Korean TV shows, please contact us: by snoopy@kocca.kr / munkiller@limecomm.kr If you are interested in Korean TV shows, please contact us: snoopy@kocca.kr / munkiller@limecomm.kr

Simply K-Pop CON-TOUR

Mensore At Restaurant Hana, very special food is served by owner, Hana. A second young woman, Se-hee, is considering jumping from the cliff near the beach because of her desperate situation as a 20-something job seeker. As she is about to leap, her tummy starts growling. She decides to delay her decision, and is enticed by the aroma of Restaurant Hana. Both women, who come to Okinawa – the island of longevity – to prepare for death, re-start their lives. Length: 11x12 mins (web series), 1x95 mins (Film) AK Entertainment Co., Ltd. #605, Ace Gasan Tower, 121, Digital-ro, Geumcheon-gu, Seoul, 08505, Republic of Korea T: +82 (0)2 6332 0092

Watch K-pop stars as they perform onstage and interact with the audience throughout the show. No more, no less – only the essentials on Simply K-pop! Length: 50x60 mins Arirang TV (The Korea International Broadcasting Foundation) Arirang Tower 2351 Nambusunhwan-ro (Seocho-dong), Seocho-gu, Seoul, 06713, Republic of Korea T: +82 (0)2 3475 5000

Secret Royal Inspector & Joy Two unlikable people team up to expose corrupt politicians and leaders. Length: 16x60 mins CJ ENM CJ ENM Center, 66, Sangamsan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, 03926, Republic of Korea T: +82 (0)2 371 8311

Seasons on the Wetland This nature documentary captures the four seasons of the wetland and the activities of the creatures living there. Plants and animals show many adaptations to life on flood plains and how they cope with seasonal flooding. Length: 1x52 mins Genre: Nature & wildlife Daehan Mediaworld T: +82 (0)2 3664 1279

Dancing in the Box A dance competition show where dancers perform in special dance boxes. Two contestants in one team dance in each box with 32 buttons. They should try to push the same button at the same time while dancing. When the two dancers hit the same buttons in each box, the LED indicator in the middle will show “Perfect”, “Good” or “Miss”, depending on how synchronised they are. The “Perfect” sign shows when the dancers hit the buttons at the exact same time. Length: 2x50 mins (pilot eps) DI TURN 2FL, 116, Jandari-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea T: +82 (0)10 4626 5343

Great Minds With the greatest lectures from world-class intellects, a prospective hub of the world knowledge ecosystem Great Minds presents a series of lectures delivered by luminaries such as Nobel Prize in Economics winner, Paul Krugman, and Joseph S. Nye Jr., creator of the soft power concept, among many other thought leaders of our generation. A blue ocean of refined wisdom and insight, Great Minds grants us the opportunity to share and enjoy the wisdom of humankind. Length: 40x20 mins EBS (Korea Educational Broadcasting System) 281, Hallyuworld-ro, Ilsandong-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do, Repubilc of Korea T: +82 (0)2 526 2158

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