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Spend game Producers in Asia are spending more than they ever have making con-

because the pre-release promotion was deemed to be excessive. Any-

tent. The markets with the biggest numbers are China and Korea. In both,

thing jaw-dropping in China should set off warning bells, including records

streaming platforms have driven prices to record levels of, depending on

like the US$750,000 per episode licensing fee paid in China for Korea’s Run-

who you believe, up to US$2.5 million per episode of drama. Will this last?

ning Man before China slammed the door in Korea’s face.

In China, probably not. In Korea, opinions vary.

So that’s China. Nerves of steel required. What about Korea?

Let’s talk about China. The most expensive dramas ever made are this

Korea’s video production/licensing industry was pretty much decimat-

year’s Novoland: Eagle Flag, which premiered with a massive marketing

ed by China’s decision in 2017 to punish the country for its support of the

campaign that is said to have raised eyebrows (and ire) of mainland me-

U.S. Thaad missile defence system. And then along came Netflix.

dia authorities, and Chinese period drama The Longest Day in Chang’An.

Korean budgets right now are on steroids, driven by domestic spend on

Production insiders say these two series cost between RMB7 million/

shows like Mr Sunshine, Kingdom and Arthdal Chronicles, which is said to

US$986,000 and RMB10 million/US$1.4 million to make per episode aired,

be the most expensive drama ever made in Korea at

including episodes that never saw the light of day because of external

KRW54 billion/US$44.5 million for 18 episodes. CJ ENM-

censorship and broadcasters’ internal review processes.

affiliated Studio Dragon produced Arthdal Chroni-

Novoland: Eagle Flag’s total budget was RMB500 million/US$70 million for all 68 episodes, 12 of which were never aired. The sweeping good-

cles, which aired on tvN in Korea and on Netflix in the rest of the world.

versus-evil series, set in the fictional kingdom of Novoland, aired/streamed

Will this continue? Maybe not at the level of Arth-

on three platforms in China – Zhejiang TV, Tencent and Youku. Rival plat-

dal Chronicles. But who knows? Even though Kore-

forms Tencent and Youku are said to have paid a combined RMB15 mil-

an viewers didn’t exactly flock to the kingdom of

lion/US$2.1 million per episode for the rights.

Arth, Netflix has the whole world across which

The Longest Day in Chang’An, which some say soared to US$2.5 million

to amortise those costs. In the rest of Korea,

per episode (although that number is disputed), was reduced from the

producers say budgets range from US$600,000

original 60 episodes shot to its final 48 episodes aired. Alibaba platform

per episode to US$1 million (incl talent fees) for

Youku is said to have paid RMB8 million/US$1.1 million per episode for ex-

limited series, less for long-running mini-series.

clusive rights, which means the platform covered the full production cost.

Without lead actor costs, per-episode costs

If the numbers sound high (even though media authorities have already reigned in talent costs), the risks are higher.

drop to around US$250,000. What about the rest of Asia? Most produc-

China’s official approvals process and broadcaster/platforms’ review

ers not working with Netflix can only dream of

systems mean episodes may never be seen. Novoland: Eagle Flag, for in-

being able to spend more than US$100,000

stance, was whittled down from the original 68 episodes to 56 episodes

per episode. Developing markets like In-

after review. That’s 18% pure waste. This rose to 20% on The Longest Day

donesia are still putting shows on air that

in Chang’An. All this means production costs are spread across fewer epi-

cost US$10,000-US$15,000 per episode.

sodes, driving up final amounts.

US$50,000 is envy territory. US$80,000 makes

There’s also the unpredictability of the response to marketing campaigns; local sources say the heavily promoted Novoland was almost pulled off air

Editorial Director Janine Stein Assistant Editor Malena Amzah Research & Production CJ Yong Editorial Aqilah Yunus Design Rae Yong

jaws drop. US$100,000 is heaven. What happens next? We watch iflix and wait for Disney+.

INTERNATIONAL Associate Publisher (Americas, Europe) and VP, International Business Development Leah Gordon

What is ContentAsia?

ASIA Sales and Marketing Manager Masliana Masron

To receive your regular free copy of ContentAsia, please email

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.

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contentasia issue five, october 2019


A+E Networks ™ The Home of Paranormal Visit us: Stand P3.C-1

VI SIT US: STA N D P3 .C - 1

Š2019 A+E Networks. Claimed marks are the trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC protected in the United States and other countries in the world.

Ghost Hunters

The UnXplained with William Shatner

Paranormal Caught on Camera


what’s in this issue... what’s going on in...

12 Drama budgets: who’s spending what in Asia

More is being spent on drama in Asia than ever, driven mostly by Netflix but also by local streamers & broadcasters responding in a few ways, including pooling resources to swell budgets and drive up quality.

14 Another day, another drama for Fremantle in Asia

Fremantle has redirected its China formats business, switching from a production to a licensing model. At the same time, the company is putting major energy into ramping up original drama from Indonesia.

16 Stream states: online video winners in Asia

18 Animation

15 players will dominate Asia Pacific online video advertising/subscription revenue in 2019, according to Media Partners Asia’s (MPA). This is who they are and what the outlook is.

Animated series Robot Trains was once the proud engine of CJ ENM’s global animation ambitions. Now the Korean conglomerate is idling in the station while Italy’s Mondo TV steams ahead with 90% ownership of season three of the kids’ 3D CGI series. What happened? And what comes next?

Dramatic tension

Demand for drama in Asia has never been higher – and the challenges and pressures on the production industry have never been as big. ContentAsia looks at what’s behind some of the latest projects and initiatives reshaping the industry.

Ekachai Uekrongtham, Executive Producer, The Stranded


Ghost Bride, Netflix

Specials effects

We are really trying to make Hotstar the canvas for India’s biggest storytellers.”

Star TV’s Hindi Entertainment president, Gaurav Banerjee, talks about the new Hotstar Specials unit and his unshakeable belief in story, next-generation content and how Star’s deliberate focus on social issues is playing out on screen.

Zainir Aminullah, Executive Producer, Ghost Bride, Chief Executive, Revolution Media

Stepping out

Thailand’s BEC World has a whole new approach at home and abroad. The company’s president and director, Ariya Banomyong, talks about what he’s thinking, where he’s going and why.

28 6


Gaurav Banerjee, President, Hindi Entertainment, Star India

page 24

Ariya Banomyong, BEC World Thailand

Bold comfort

A different Mediacorp has emerged in the last two years. And in the last six weeks, Singapore has seen things on screen no one can remember ever having seen before. The national broadcaster’s chief executive, Loke Kheng Tham, talks about going big, bold and X-ish rated for the first time... and why.


Loke Kheng Tham, Mediacorp Singapore

contentasia issue five, october 2019

Jamie’s ultimate VEG Jamie cooks up a stunning collection of vibrant, hearty veg dishes. You won’t even miss the meat! 6 x 1 hour Fremantle

must-see content…


Making a meal of it Eddie Eats America must-see content...

Dying for meat How the meat industry is destroying our planet Mipcom Stand No: P3.C10


@all3media_int North One Television Raw

MIPCOM Stand No: P3.C10


‌from award-winning producers

SKI A+E Accidents will happen ...from award-winnine producers The Dog House Your House isn’t a home without a dog Five Mile Films all3media international


what’s in this issue...[cont’d] When in China

I tell our partners in China there are three go’s – go in, go out, and go deeper.” William Tan, Managing Director, Endemol Shine China

page 36


Anne can... & will

JKN Global Media CEO, Anne Jakrajutatip, has created a whole new footprint for Thai content outside Thailand and is generating unprecedented energy for Indian and Philippines’ content inside. She talked to ContentAsia about what she’s doing, why and how.


Streaming: Who’s who in Japan & Taiwan Taiwan and Japan are awash with

The Bachelorette, Amazon Prime Video Japan

64 Formats:

time high in Asia as streaming/on-

A look at which formats markets


S is for...

... Shanghai. Sweet. Smart. And Miss Su, the star of a Chinese


national’s involvement in Asia’s

countries in Asia.

Formats Outlook


The World Between Us, HBO Asia

indie distributor all3media inter-

streamers by volume among 18


page 44

ground for Aussie drama and ups

markets that top the list of local

tracks market share across the

Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, CEO, JKN Global Media plc

scripted deal that breaks new

Amzah looks at who’s who in the two

content output. Aqilah Yunus

To drive ratings in Thailand, you need to transform programmes into Thai, not just with languaging, but in making connections with the audience.”

which is on its way to China in a

a growing slate of originals. Malena

line platforms fast-track premium


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries,

everything from free-TV catch-up to

Scripted formats are at an all

Mark Francis, iflix

iflix’s originals have wound a steady story through the streaming platform’s gyrating corporate landscape. “The first set of shows was planting a flag. Now we have proof of concept and we are creating the content buckets and narrowing down the genres we want to build,” says global director, original programming, Mark Francis.

adaptation of Australia’s

domestic streaming services offering


Originals thinking

William Tan, Endemol Shine’s Beijing-based managing director for China, talks about a business and creative approach able to rock super-sized entertainment demand and roll with the punches in the biggest market on earth.

scripted formats boom.

Leaders & Laggards

are up, down or moving sideways in 15 countries in Asia as well as across the region.

66 Formats leaderboard

Who won the formats race in Asia in the first half of this year. Miss S, all3media international

contentasia issue five, october 2019

8K Starring Ken Watanabe Based on the award winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro An artist of the Floating World (89’x1, 8K) 8K Premiere Screening at MIPCOM Place NHK 8K Theater, Palais 3 Date|Time Monday 14 Oct | 11:00am NHK NEP NHK Enterprises Visit us at MIPCOM Stand P-1. C51


drama production

high drama: who spends what More is being spent on drama series in Asia than ever, driven mostly by Netflix but also in Japan and India because of Amazon Prime Video. Across the region, local streamers and broadcasters have responded in a few ways, including pooling resources to swell budgets and drive up quality, and being a lot more innovative about tapping deeply local stories, traditions, culture and awareness.

Production costs per episode

Trends and influences


RMB7 million/US$986,000 to RMB10 million/US$1.4 million at the top end

Costs include the production of episodes that don’t see the light of day because of censorship and broadcasters’ internal review processes. Two commissioning terms are used in China. 1) 自制 zi zhi, where the commissioner/platform owns IP rights to the product, and 2) 定制 ding zhi, where the commissioner/platform owns rights to air/stream the programme in China but the production house keeps the IP.

Hong Kong

US$25,000 for in-house soaps. Mid-range US$50,000 to US$80,000. US$100,000-US$125,000 for premium/regional

Domestic production costs have traditionally been kept down by a studio system driven by dominant broadcaster Television Broadcasts Ltd (TVB). And then along came China, which is having a similar impact on budgets as Netflix. The full impact of Hong Kong’s protest movement is not yet clear, but TVB has already admitted concerns about ad revenues coupled with concerns about a negative impact of U.S.-China trade disputes. Anecdotal reports from producers and media companies indicate that shoots involving foreign teams have been cancelled and production is way down.


S$70,000 to US$100,000 for the new breed of premium series

India is Asia’s biggest streaming battleground, so it makes sense that the biggest influence on TV production is the emergence of premium drama series for streaming platforms. This kicked off with Sacred Games for Netflix. The big streaming drama commissioners today are the Disney-owned Hotstar for its Hotstar Specials strand, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sony Liv and Viacom18’s streamer Voot.


US$10,000-US$12,000 for low-end soaps. Between US$40,000 and US$80,000 for premium mini series. US$20,000 to US$25,000 for telemovies

Indonesia’s long-running high-rating free-TV sinetrons/soaps are famously said to cost US$10,000 per episode and written/shot/edited/aired in weeks. Bigger broadcasters allocate US$15,000 to US$20,000. Streaming platforms – including Viu and iflix – have had a radical impact on the creative industry, and talent that was focused on filmmaking is being drawn into TV production because of rising budgets and a more sophisticated approach to developing stories. Indonesia’s film industry is on steroids, with north of 100 films a year (and growing) since 2014, upwards of 50 million admissions in 2018, and an expected 2,500 screens by 2020.


Average US$600,000 to US$1 million. US$2 million+ at the top end

Average US$250,000 per episode without lead talent costs. Between US$600,000 and US$1 million for primetime short-series drama. Netflix is believed to have doubled that and added some to hit US$2.4 million per episode for worldwide rights (excluding Korea) for Studio Dragon’s Arthdal Chronicles, said to be the most expensive television series ever produced in Korea.


US$10,000 to US$12,000 at the bottom end. Upper range US$25,000 to US$40,000. US$100,000 to US$140,000 for drama with a regional footprint

At the domestic level, Malaysia-based production houses are making local drama for next to nothing rising to very little/low in comparison to developed markets elsewhere in the region. A large proportion of production for two major platforms – Media Prima and Astro – is in-house, so the cost structure may seem lower. But there is an emerging premium production sector, driven by indie production houses such as Skop Productions, Double Vision and Revolution Media. At the top end, for drama with regional footprint/potential, budgets hit US$100,000 including talent fees and multiple co-production partners. Local companies have a strong film focus, including movies such as Sangkar (Astro Shaw, Primeworks Studios, mm2 Entertainment and Infinitus) with an eye on domestic/regional box office.


US$35,000 to US$40,000. Big local returning series rising to US$80,000 including cast fees

The traditional studio model allows the country’s big two broadcasters to keep production costs low and IP in-house. But newcomers, including Cignal TV and telco Globe, are driving change, particularly in the film production space. Both fiercely competitive networks – ABS-CBN and GMA Network – have growing regional/global syndication businesses.


Non-premium US$100,000 to US$115,000. Premium US$145,000 to US$180,000. Historical drama US$150,000. Telemovies US$150,000

Taiwan lands at the upper end of Asia’s production budgets, and, with its strong production community, is commonly seen to be a viable alternative to producing in China. At the premium drama series end, producers spent between US$145,000 to US$180,000 per episode, which may seem a lot compared to some markets in Asia but pales in comparison to mainland China.


THB1.5 million/US$49,000 to THB2 million/US$66,000 (excluding lead actors)

As in many markets, talent costs are driving production budgets through the roof. The average production budget today (even without talent) has doubled in the past 18 months, when the average was in the range of THB1 million/US$33,000.


US$70,000 for domestic drama. US$120,000+ for premium/co-productions

Singapore has a strong government-funded public service broadcast culture. Many of Singapore’s production houses are inward focused. Regional co-productions are giving local producers additional resource to drive up quality and regional appeal.


US$10,000 to US$30,000


Production spend in Vietnam (as well as Cambodia and Laos) remains among the lowest in the region. For now, Vietnam does not seem to be on Netflix’s priority list, and domestic budgets have not been driven up by the global streamer’s outsize budgets.

contentasia issue five, october 2019

Embrace the age of Infinite Entertainment. Synamedia

Embrace the age of Infinite Entertainment. We’re Synamedia. We’re helping operators, service providers and media companies around the globe to deliver, protect, and monetize compelling video content. We do that by delivering the world’s most complete, secure and advanced end-to-end open video delivery solution. We’re looking forward to discussing how to embrace this exciting age of Infinite Entertainment.

We’re Synamedia.

We’re helping operators, service providers and media companies around the globe to deliver, protect, and monetize compelling video content. We© do that by delivering the world’s most complete, secure 2019 Synamedia and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. and advanced end-to-end open video delivery solution. We’re looking forward to discussing how to embrace this exciting age of Infinite Entertainment. © 2019 Synamedia and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.



another day, another drama Fremantle has redirected its China formats business, switching from a production to a licensing model. At the same time, the company is putting major energy into ramping up original drama from Indonesia.

When U.K.-based Fremantle pulled the plug on its mainland China production unit in September, lots of well-worn lines from a battle-weary

production out of Indonesia This too marks a change in Fremantle’s strategy in Asia, adding

industry about restrictions, regulations, shifting sands and a badass set

scripted production to what for decades was the company’s non-

of other challenges resurfaced.

scripted stronghold in Asia and home of some of Asia’s longest-running

Those may well be part of the reason behind Fremantle’s decision to

adaptations. Family Feud Indonesia (Family 100 Indonesia), for instance,

redirect its China business away from production towards a pure licens-

is currently in season 23. In another example, Indonesian Idol season 10

ing model. Whatever, the end result is a re-org of goals and resources,

debuts this month and runs to February 2020.

much like the restructure that replaced the regional production business out of Singapore in 2015 with a licensing model.

The focus on Indonesia makes sense, not least because it’s ground zero of Southeast Asia’s intensifying streaming wars. While the quality of

If there’s a switch in approach, Fremantle denies taking its eye off

video production is ramping up rapidly, Indonesia was also one of only

China. “We continue to see China as an important market and remain

three formats markets in Asia that grew in the first six months of this year

committed to working with local broadcasters and partners,” the com-

over last year, when it registered 19 formats.

pany said in mid-September, confirming the exit of China chief executive, Vivian Yin. Fremantle only cited “a number of market factors” in its response to questions about the reasons behind the shift in direction. “Following a review of the way Fremantle operates in China and, due to a number of market factors, we have taken the decision that China

In total, Indonesia had 22 formats on air or commissioned in the first half of this year (source: ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook, 1H 2019) – its highest first half since we started measuring in 2017. 13 of them were from Fremantle, giving the company a market share of almost 60%. Its closest competitor in Indonesia is Talpa, which has three titles. In China, Fremantle had four of 23 formats we counted in the first half

will no longer be a production territory but will focus on operating as a

of this year – a market share of just over 17% – including the first World’s

licensing territory,” the company said.

Got Talent with Hunan TV. The formats leader by volume in China is

The mainland China formats business now comes under Singapore-

Japan’s Fuji TV, which logged seven (30%) titles, mostly scripted.

based general manager/executive vice president for Asia, Ganesh Ra-

Fremantle’s decision to shutter China production comes about nine

jaram, who heads to Mipcom in Cannes this month with China formats

weeks after the finale of World’s Got Talent, an ambitious show with Hu-

licensing on his agenda for the first time.

nan TV that, if industry sources are to be believed, was highly unlikely to

Previously with Star China, Yin joined Fremantle as chief executive for

have been renewed. At the same time, the show sparked off renewed

China in mid-2015, reporting to Asia managing director, Paul O’Hanlon,

interest in big-budget shiny floor shows; Shanghai Media Group, for

who left shortly afterwards as part of the regional restructure. Yin exits

example, is prepping a new version of China’s Got Talent.

officially at the end of November but is believed to have wound down her involvement already. Rajaram has been responsible for finished tape licensing for China for

Whatever the frustrations of pushing original content over the line in China, the reality is that the market is producing bigger, better and best programming across genres with record budgets and breathtaking

15 years, riding the rise of broadcast and streaming giants with shows

scale. Much of this has been driven by mainland streamers, but broad-

such as American idol, America’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent and

casters such as Hunan TV are also big spenders with ambitious goals.

premium dramas such as American Gods, My Brilliant Friend and Picnic at Hanging Rock. The China decision leaves Fremantle with three production centres in Asia-Pacific – Australia, Indonesia and India – under Chris Oliver-Taylor in Sydney, and coincides with the company’s focus on high-end drama


Average drama series these days cost between RMB7 million/US$1 million and RMB10 million/US$1.4 million per episode to make. Excluding Netflix, that’s way more than average across the rest of the region. It’s too soon to tell what happens next for Fremantle in China under Rajaram. But someone must have done the math.

contentasia issue five, october 2019

Saban’s Power Rangers Beast Morphers Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Miconalits Allspark A Hasbro company Transformers Rescue Bots Academy Hana Zuki Full of treasures Transformers Cyberverse Zoidz Build them to life MIPCOM Stand R7. D32 All ©2019 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.


©2019 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.


online video

stream states 15 players will dominate Asia Pacific online video advertising/subscription revenue in 2019.

Fifteen players – led by YouTube with revenues of more than US$4 billion

owned Hotstar (India) and two Japanese platforms – Hulu Japan and

– will dominate Asia-Pacific online video revenue in 2019, taking 70%, or

dTV, all of which have estimated revenue of less than US$300 million this

US$18.9 billion, of total online subscription/advertising revenue of US$27

year. The last five on the list – Stan, Niconico, Foxtel Now/Kayo, Viu and

billion, according to Media Partners Asia’s (MPA) new Asia Pacific On-

Korea’s new platform Wavve – are estimated to have ad/subscription

line Video & Broadband Distribution 2020 report.

revenues of less than US$250 million each.

Excluding China, three platforms – YouTube, Amazon and Netflix –

Expected influences on ad/subscription revenue and content spend

could take 54% of 2019 revenues. In the next five years, online video rev-

in the next two years are the arrival of Disney+, Apple TV+, and possibly

enue in Asia Pacific is forecast to be US$50 billion; Chinese platforms will

NBCUniversal’s Peacock. Amazon may ramp up Prime Video in the

still take more than half, but their share will drop from an expected 59%

region, expanding from its current focus on Japan and India. Regional

this year to 55% by 2024 because of economic deceleration, market

players are also spreading their wings. Hotstar is expected to roll out

maturity and increased regulatory oversight.

beyond its home base in India into Southeast Asia. iQiyi and Tencent

In addition to dominating online video revenues, China is also spending the most on online content. Across the whole region, online content spend this year will be US$16.8 billion. US$13.3 billion will be spent in

already have a foothold in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. ByteDance is already planting a flag in India, Japan and Southeast Asia. Key to fulfilling online video’s potential is subtle regulation, says MPA ex-

China. The rest of the region will spend US$3.5 billion, including sports.

ecutive director Vivek Couto. He says efforts to align OTT regulations with

Excluding China, online content spend is led by Japan (US$1.3 billion),

broadcasting and pay-TV and imposing TV content standards on niche

India (US$0.8 billion) and Australia/New Zealand (US$0.7 billion), for a to-

online services “may be counterproductive”. Best case regulatory sce-

tal of US$$2.8 billion. All the other countries combined will spend US$700

narios are no foreign direct investment limits and no pricing restrictions.

million. In Southeast Asia, online video investment this year is forecast to

Meanwhile, standalone OTT video remains loss-making in Asia Pacific.

be US$400 million, double that of Korea, which will spend an estimated

Profits are possible in the next three to five years “either in large do-

US$200 million, according to MPA forecasts.

mestic markets, such as China/India/Korea, or as part of an expanding

Outside of Chinese platforms iQiyi, Tencent Video, Youku and ByteDance and the global streamers, online revenue is led by the Disney-


global and regional footprint,” Couto says. And the rest? Consolidation seems inevitable.

contentasia issue five, october 2019

Fabrica de Suenos dream factory Grandes Historias Nuevas Versiones 25 Capitulos Great Stories New Versions 25 episodes LA USURPADORA The USURPER CUNA De LOBOS Cradle of Wolves MIPCOM 14-17 October 2019 Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France BOOT: R9.A2 REESCRIBIMOS LA HISTORIA We Rewrite The Story Televisa



animate objects Animated series Robot Trains was once the proud engine of CJ ENM’s global animation ambitions. Now the Korean conglomerate is idling in the station while Italy’s Mondo TV steams ahead with 90% ownership of season three of the kids’ 3D CGI series. What happened? And what comes next? Once the tentpole of CJ ENM’s debut as a global animation producer, part of an investment of US$15 million for the first year and the flagship project of a team dedicated to developing a China business, Korea’s 3D CGI series Robot Trains is now being driven by Italy’s Mondo TV. The shift from driver to passenger on the property took a short four years: 2015-2019. Mondo TV moves forward on Robot Trains season three with 90% ownership. This is the first time Mondo TV, which invested an undisclosed amount in season two, will be in charge of the whole production. CJ ENM retains 10% of the new season and full ownership of the original property. Mondo TV will continue to take care of Robot Trains’ distribution worldwide (excluding Asia, including China) for au-

Robot Trains

diovisual rights and licensing/merchandising. CJ ENM, which operates the Tooniverse kids cable channel in Korea, will distribute the 52x11-

overlaid with a focus on “digital-fitted animation” and a new appetite for

minute series in Asia (excluding China). The new season will be ready in

partnerships, CJ ENM says. “We are open to work with other global part-

autumn/winter 2020.

ners instead of planning projects alone,” the company told ContentAsia.

CJ ENM itself isn’t being specific about the reasons for its decision

Current partners include Planeta Junior (Pucca’s pan-Europe distribu-

to cede control of Robot Trains. The company says only that its ambi-

tor), and equity participation in animation studio Millionvolt (founded by

tious focus on animation “remains unchanged” and that it “anticipates

Larva director Maeng Ju-gong). The year-old A:Lab initiative supports

building a strategic relationship with Mondo TV”. Mondo TV hasn’t com-

partnerships with Brick Studio (founded by Johnny Express director Woo

mented on the acquisition beyond saying it expects Robot Trains’ value

Kyung-min) and with Animation Studio 38 (founded by Rainbow Ruby

as a broadcast and licenced property to increase.

director Taesik Shin). A:Lab launched in August 2018 to support the lo-

Clearly, things are changing. It’s easy to attribute CJ ENM’s animation redirect on China’s politically motivated distaste for Korean content,

cal production process from investment to distribution. CJ ENM’s current products include Pucca: Love Recipe; the second

which effectively pulled the rug out from under CJ ENM’s China play. A

batch of the comedy/sitcom series delivers by end 2019. The first batch

parallel reason could be that CJ simply wants to focus more on fewer

of the 78x7 mins series about an energetic girl who lives on the magical

productions. Giving pre-school series Robot Trains to Mondo TV in order

island of Sooga is already available. Another project is Bugsbot Igni-

to fund other properties would make sense.

tion, which premiered on Tooniverse in July. CJ ENM is also involved in

The costs of CGI animation in Asia range from US$8,000 to US$10,000

non-verbal comedy, Maca & Roni targetting 6-13 year olds; the three-

per minute for a handful of characters with limited environments. Even

minute episodes about two clumsy assistants to a genius inventor are in

at the lower end, that’s close to US$5 million for 52 x 11-min episodes.

production and scheduled to be ready by December 2020.

Moving forward, CJ ENM says it will continue to invest in and produce

So there is activity. But few would be surprised if CJ ENM did admit

animation. Projects in the pipeline include older-skewed animation

to an animation pivot, and particularly for pre-school. High risk, slow/

Pucca, Bugsbot, Maca & Roni and JungleBox.

low returns, little or no China market, limited patience to build a track

The original aim to produce animation for global audiences has been


record... What else is a company to do?

contentasia issue five, october 2019

SKYCASTLE Meet the new Kingmakers: turning their husbands and children into elite royalty Drama, Black Comedy / 20x70 mins Pilot production in the US 2018 Highest-rated cable series of all time (24.62%) 2019 Baeksang Arts Award for TV Director, Best leading Actress, Best New Actress and Best supporting Actor in TV MIPCOM Stand R8.C8 JTBC


The Ghost Bride, Revolution Media for Netflix

Dramatic tensions Demand for drama in Asia has never been higher – and the challenges and pressures on the production industry have never been as big. ContentAsia looks at what’s behind some of the latest projects and initiatives reshaping the industry. Asia’s television drama scene can be a bit of a horror show at the moment,

volume, says Norman Lockhart, Netflix’s Asia Pacific director of physical

and not just because supernatural tales are enjoying unprecedented at-

production. “It’s not about us imposing U.S. production practices... What

tention, or because media disruption continues and corporate instability is

we want to do is bring the best of both together, give everybody the skill

rife. As demand for premium content soars, great stories are surfacing. But

to do multi-episodic multi-series production all the way through from writ-

production infrastructure on the ground in Southeast Asia is buckling in all

ers to final post-production.”

sorts of inconvenient ways, available domestic talent is being spread paper

“What we’re looking to do with all our original series is to tell local stories

thin, and gaps in skill sets are being exposed all over the place. No one is

and take those to the world. And we want those to be told authentically

playing the blame game. Rather, in a world of global streamers, there’s a

by people who are based and live and work in the region,” Lockhart adds.

mad scramble to upskill, plug holes and upgrade systems into fighting-fit

“We need to find a way to build that crew base, that talent base, in some

condition for streaming wars that are only just beginning.

of the key territories in Southeast Asia, so that we need to bring in less and

Netflix has had a lot to do with pulling producers in Asia into an alternative

less people for the shows we’re making.”

future that blends local reality with global budgets and processes. The aim

For Gavin Barclay, Netflix’s Asia-Pacific director of post production,

is an environment that enables production houses to operate at scale and

the goal is clear: “For us, it’s about management of a larger-scale in-

to deliver on time, on budget, rights cleared, properly colour encoded and

ternational production.” Which means dealing with larger-scale issues,

in line with other tech specs. Plus with all the required paperwork.

like, for instance, creating a large enough community of people able to

Three and a half years after its global launch, Netflix’s goal is to build a

deal with clearing music for international productions. Or the ability, on

production ecosystem on the ground in Southeast Asia able to cope with

a post-production level, to schedule and budget across a much larger


contentasia issue five, october 2019

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Gavin Barclay, Director of Post Production, APAC, Netflix; Norman Lockhart, Director of Physical Production, APAC, Netflix; Ekachai Uekrongtham, Executive Producer, The Stranded; Zainir Aminullah, Executive Producer, Ghost Bride, Chief Executive, Revolution Media

multi-episodic series. “It’s a skill set that may not have been as popular or

certainly an efficiency that I had not seen before. And that should be the

needed in the market before,” he says.

efficiency in the process that going forward we should aspire to”.

Barclay says the quest is about “trying to identify those things and figure

The challenges for Thailand’s Ekachai Uekrongtham, one of the ex-

out where the gap is. It’s not necessarily that there aren’t experienced

ecutive producers on The Stranded, are different. Thai companies have

people in the market. It’s just that sometimes our needs are more unique

long provided on-ground support for Hollywood, which was something

than what has been in each market.”

of a blessing when it came to rolling out the red carpet for Netflix. “We

Revolution Media’s Zainir Aminullah, who executive produced The Ghost

have very good crew able to handle international technical standards,”

Bride, has first-hand experience of Netflix’s needs, which are indeed unlike

Uekrongtham says. The challenge is in creating the stories and in post-

anything that has gone before in Southeast Asia, he says. Among other

production. “What I tried to do was to blend the best people creating

shows, Revolution Media’s previous incarnation, Ideate Media, produced two

original content from the film and advertising industries and marry them

seasons of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency in the U.S. for BBC America.

with the people used to creating Hollywood-type standards for shows,” he

The Ghost Bride, set in 1890’s Malacca, is about a young woman who,

adds. Still, requirements like 24-hour turnaround on dailies was “sometimes

in exchange for relieving her family’s debts, must marry a wealthy family’s dead son. The series was filmed in 4K HDR and involved writers and talent from North America, Taiwan and Malaysia.

tough because we were shooting in like 12 provinces around Thailand”. Perhaps the biggest challenge was in reframing the audience because of Netflix. “When you start to think about the entire world as your audience,

“The complexity of dealing with talent and production requirements

you put on different filters. When Netflix talked to us about wanting to create

across the region was by itself understandable. What we quickly realised

an original series from Thailand, we thought about making sure that it’s lo-

was that the scale of the production was not something we could deal with

cally specific but also with universal relevance and universal resonance. So

in the region on several levels,” Aminullah says. That included plugging into

that’s a creative challenge because we blend the myths, we blend all the

Netflix’s processes and a reporting structure split by functions. “There are a

folklore, but at the same time we close our eyes and we think 190 countries

lot of people at Netflix,” he adds, echoing widespread industry sentiment.

will be watching. Are we able to capitalise on the uniqueness of our culture

It’s not a criticism. More like advice to producers who think they can get

to say something universal with strong resonance? That’s a challenge.”

away with cutting corners. And then there is talent, including crew. “Where

The Stranded, about teens stranded on an island who realise no help is

do we find them? I mean, it’s really crazy now... especially in Indonesia and

coming, also taught Uekrongtham to “think about universe first”. Thailand’s

Malaysia,” Aminullah says.

movie-making strength focuses creative imaginations on one hour and

One of the bigger learnings was in levels of immediacy and efficiency

45 minutes. The Netflix way is about “the universe first, which comprises

that could be achieved. “We were shooting in three or four different

storylines, characters, themes... that’s something fresh and exciting for

locations in Malaysia across six weeks... The final day of shooting was on

me,” he says, adding: “What I hope is that by the end of this process, we

a Saturday... on Sunday I sat down with the two directors and the three

have created a group of people who are able to to handle these things

editors. We were able to watch all six episodes on Monday. So that was

in the long run and keep doing it.” He’s not alone.


contentasia issue five, october 2019

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Specials effects Charged with continuing Star India’s bold content strategy in a vastly changed and supercompetitive environment, Hindi Entertainment President, Gaurav Banerjee, talks about the new Hotstar Specials unit and his unshakeable belief in story, next-generation production and content relationships, and how Star’s deliberate focus on social issues is playing out on screen. There’s a lot more from where Indian versions of Hostages, The Office and

along with a high-end animated show that pulls in talent from all over

Criminal Justice came from, Star India’s Hindi Entertainment president,

the world. The first of these is scheduled to be on air by early 2020. Mean-

Gaurav Banerjee, promises. “We are really trying to make Hotstar the

while, Star India debuts its first bi-lingual Hindi-English series with TED on

canvas for India’s biggest storytellers and some of the really big passion

Hotstar as well as on linear services Star World and Star Plus.

projects they have. And... tell these across the length and breadth of this

Banerjee says the Hotstar Specials’ programmes aim to be “deeply

country, take some of them global and really invest in making them big,”

progressive”, edgy, wide ranging and talked about, rolling out against a

he told delegates at the ContentAsia Summit at end August.

backdrop of massive opportunity and Star’s ongoing imperative to be,

Sitting at the epicentre of a fierce content battle and at the helm of the

among other things, entertaining as well as inspiring.

country’s most powerful video entertainment force, Banerjee is driving an

Until 2016, India had roughly 200 million screens on which consumers

agenda that runs from long-loved soaps (which he calls social dramas) to

were watching content. “We believe in another couple of years, that will

the trending premium series designed to power a subscription environment.

become a billion screens. That’s the scale of this opportunity,” he says.

He has India’s biggest canvas to draw on. Star India, now owned by

Hotstar Specials, he adds, is only at the beginning of its journey. Since it

Disney, creates about 30,000 hours of content a year. The company’s four-

was unveiled in May this year, the brand has launched five shows, or about

and-a-half-year-old streaming platform, Hotstar, has 300 million monthly ac-

25 hours of content – a fraction of the network’s output for its traditional TV

tive users. Hotstar, Banerjee says, “has a lot of the dexterity and modernity

channels. “So this is really, literally, the first few hours of day one for us,” he

that digital brings with the scale of a huge television network”.

says. “We will get better at this... at this point we are deeply learning”.

Hotstar Specials – the new originals division set up earlier this year to

Star’s definition of entertainment has never been ordinary, from Kaun

drive premium series production – kicked off with documentary, Roar of

Banega Crorepati (KBC/Who Wants to be a Millionaire) in 2000 to Aamir

the Lion, and a slate of scripted formats, including crime thriller Criminal

Khan’s unfearing talk show, Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Counts), in

Justice, a remake of HBO mini-series The Night Of. Next up are three pre-

2012, to the multi-lingual alliance with TED this year. KBC put pay-TV on

mium titles that tap stories from modern-day India and medieval India,

the entertainment map. Satyamev Jayate, which also aired on state-


contentasia issue five, october 2019

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center... our drama was and continues to do that. That’s been a massive change. It’s at the heart of everything we try to do,” he adds, citing studies that show women in India are now more likely to take a stand against domestic violence, and that the preference for male children is changing. Another example, if needed, is Star India’s 1,487-episode Diya Aur Baati Hum, a ratings juggernaut linked to a surge in women joining India’s police force. The series (2011-2016), is about a well-educated woman whose dreams of becoming a policewoman are shattered when she is married into a family that wants an obedient, uneducated daughter-in-law. Star has been bold in other ways. In 2010, the network premiered Maryada...Lekin Kab Tak?, prompting headlines like, “Another bastion falls. The first gay couple on Indian television has viewers hooked” (India Today, Oct 2011). “It was a really bold theme and we were going somewhat against the law in the country at that time,” Banerjee says. If eyebrows were raised, no official action was taken against Star that anyone can remember. “Artistic exercises like this are a big enabler for change,” Banerjee adds. Clearly, themes that challenge convention, given that all the above Hostages India

predate OTT, aren’t the exclusive preserve of streaming platforms. And they won’t be in future. “There is a lot of conversation around the dichotomy between television and OTT,” Banerjee says, dismissing common OTT

We are really trying to make Hotstar the canvas for India’s biggest storytellers and some of the really big passion projects that they have. And... tell these across the length and breadth of this country, take some of them global and really invest in making them big.”

myths with, “that’s not necessarily how it’s playing out in India”.

Gaurvav Banerjee President, Hindi Entertainment, Star India

where we help great writers tell phenomenal stories and it is up to view-

“Adult themes are not the only kind of content that works on OTT. You could create something that different parts of the family can watch together and that could work just as well,” he says, adding: “Even at this point in time, we don’t see Hotstar Specials as just edgy content or content aimed at only an adult audience. If there are adult themes we want to take up, of course we’ll do it, but not all our content needs to be that way”. Nor is length a factor. “People believe that duration and short series play really well on OTT, but the most successful show on Hotstar has been running on TV for the past 10 years, and it’s the number one show on TV as well. So I think this myth on length can be overcome with good relevant storytelling any day anytime,” he says. It helps that Star India’s TV broadcast and streaming businesses have never been in competition with each other. Content is mirrored and promoted across both platforms. “We see ourselves as a content company ers to decide where they want to watch it.” For him, what show goes where is less important than the story it tells. And to that end, he’s deeply focused on how Star works with creators. “There’s a huge opportunity still

backed broadcaster Doordarshan, started a conversation about issues

waiting to be unlocked,” he says, describing India as a “highly evolved

such as domestic violence and child sexual abuse. The partnership with

telenovela market” but “not yet a short series market”.

TED gives India’s greatest minds and most innovative ideas a national

There’s also a massive opportunity in collaboration. India’s storytelling

platform. “We don’t want to be offering you only escape. We want to be

talents are already being combined with “the power of some brilliant

offering you inspiration,” Banerjee says.

engineers at Hotstar” to go where no one has gone before. TED is an

This is not a lofty new ambition or, even if it sounds like one, a soundbite

example. “TED conferences have existed for around 20 years. We figured

crafted in the marketing department. Banerjee says even the long-running

out how to make that into a mass TV show. Traditionally, Satyamev Jay-

soaps, pioneered by Star at the dawn of multichannel TV, play a role in

ate would sit on a news channel. But we figured out a way for it to be

shaping social fabric. “Really significant movements happened because

an entertainment channel conversation driver. India’s epics are abso-

of [Star India’s] social dramas,” he says. “This was the only entertainment

lutely phenomenal, with great characters and wonderful conflicts that

in our country that was putting women first. Cinema wasn’t doing it. News

talk across generations, across languages... all of those could be massive

wasn’t doing it. There was hardly any sport that was putting women at the



contentasia issue five, october 2019

Bionic Max 52x11’ Gaumont born with cinema MIPCOM 2019 MEET US AT BOOTH R8.C1 | | @GaumontTV

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Love Destiny, Channel 3 Thailand

Stepping out Thailand’s BEC World has a whole new approach at home and abroad. The company’s president and director, Ariya Banomyong, talks about what he’s thinking, where he’s going and why.

Listed Thai broadcast powerhouse, BEC World, has a whole new ap-

ficer at True Corporation, which operates pay-TV platform TrueVisions.

proach to its regional and global profile. Initiatives include strengthening

Talking about his latest career move, Banomyong says “85% of the con-

BEC World’s footprint for content (including co-production) around the

tent consumed in Thailand is local, and on TV. That’s why I joined BEC

region and also around the world; expanding partnerships at home and

World. I see hope”.

abroad; evolving its wholly owned national terrestrial TV brand, Channel

Struggling with many of the same issues as broadcasters everywhere in

3, as well as embracing the domestic streaming environment in a coun-

the world, Banomyong is well aware that all assets need to be leveraged

try of 69 million people and upwards of 55 million mobile internet users.

in a new environment. “We produce the best drama series in Thailand.

The goal involves connecting TV and online audiences and looking at

We have the best producers and 200 artists in our portfolio and most of

scaling tech platforms “knowing that we have very big platforms to com-

them are superstars – these are our core assets,” he says. BEC World art-

pete against in Thailand,” says recently appointed president and direc-

ists include Yaya Urassaya, Kimmy Kimberley, Boy Pakom and Nadech.

tor, Ariya Banomyong, who is driving the transformation from a TV broad-

BEC World’s entertainment value lies in decades worth of drama IP,

caster into a content and entertainment platform. He sees a blended

including prime-time drama series such as ratings record-breaker Love

future in which BEC World “is neither TV, nor digital, but both”.

Destiny (already sold to 24+ countries), Thong Ek – The Herbal Master, Mr

Banomyong joined the 49-year-old Bangkok-based company in May this year. Before BEC World, he was managing director of Line TV in Thai-

Merman, The Crown Princess and, most recently, the Thai adaptation of Korean scripted series, My Love from Another Star.

land for three and a half years, and before that he was the first country

Global initiatives ramped up last year with the first licensing/distribu-

head for Google Thailand. Previous roles include chief commercial of-

tion agreement with Thai media company JKN Global Media, which has,


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among other volume deals, just sold 265 hours to TRA Media in Korea for its two cable channels – Smile TV Plus and TVA Plus. BEC World distributes its own content in China and some parts of Southeast Asia. At home, while online audiences are growing fast, there’s still strong consumer attachment to free TV, Banomyong told audiences at the ContentAsia Summit in Singapore at the end of August. “TV remains a very effective marketing channel.

TV ratings need to change. The survival of the industry is at stake.” Ariya Banomyong President & Director, BEC World Plc Thailand

Shows that are most popular on OTT come from TV. Users are shifting to these platforms but the revenue isn’t following quite yet,” he says. BEC World is already an active player across online video platforms, with some stellar results. Top Thai drama, Love Destiny, for instance, was viewed a total of 1.5 billion times across online platforms Mello,

“Subscription is not going to happen in Thailand. We are

YouTube and Line TV. That’s in addition to record TV

an AVOD not a SVOD market,” he says. 40 million internet

ratings recorded by traditional Nielsen measurement. In September, Channel 3’s YouTube channel had 19.3

users use AVOD services, with YouTube at number one followed by Line TV. Thailand has an estimated one million SVOD

million subscribers. A recent episode of a new TV dra-

subs across all platforms. Commonly used industry figures put

ma series, Plerng Rak Plerng Kaen (Burning Love),

the country’s average revenue per user for SVOD services at

had upwards of 65,000 views 11 hours after it was uploaded. Episode one of the same drama had 1.2 million views and 10,000 interactions in 12 days. BEC World’s new streaming platform,

around THB160/US$5. “We are a large country in terms of usage but still not very big in terms of spending. It’s an issue of affordability,” Banomyong says.

Mello, had almost one million

He outlines a five-point industry

YouTube subscribers by mid-

survival guide, led by his push for

September. Up to 80% of Chan-

measurement that reflects TV

nel 3 viewers are on YouTube

and online viewing, and throw-

and Line TV. That’s some of what

ing light (or shade) at what he

the BEC World/Channel 3 teams

calls the “understated issue

are working with in building out

of cheap CPM”; the aver-

their new content and entertain-

age CPM in Thailand is US$2 and that’s

ment ambitions.

not sustainable, it

Banomyong is pushing, along

needs to change,

with others in the industry, a critical element for future viability – effec-


tive independent measurement. TV

three is driving the


message that qual-

broadcasters need to unite to trans-

ity comes at a price –

form the ratings environment from just

part of his anti-piracy and

TV into TV+OTT, he says. “Unfortunately, the tech is there but the commercial agree-


accountability position and his call for

ments behind it [are not]. TV broadcasters

the support of government and regula-

need to push together to make this hap-

tors; “We can’t do this alone,” he says.

pen. The survival of the industry is at stake”.

Banomyong also includes a focus on

Meanwhile, he is under no illusion about

the TV operating system – Apple, An-

Thailand’s subscription potential. Two

droid, etc – as an influencing fac-

thirds of Thailand’s population are clas-

tor. And finally, he says the industry

sified as independent workers, and the

needs to partner and consolidate.

country’s mobile services are largely

“If we don’t, most likely we will




contentasia issue five, october 2019













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Bold comfort Joanne Peh as Fung Lan in Last Madame, Toggle/Mediacorp

A different Mediacorp has emerged in the last two years. And in the last six weeks, Singapore has seen things on screen no one can remember ever having seen before. The national broadcaster’s chief executive, Loke Kheng Tham, talks about going big, bold and X-ish rated for the first time... and why.

In the past two years, Mediacorp chief executive Loke Kheng Tham has

Singapore in two separate but parallel tales. The series stars Blue Lan, Pets

reconfigured the public/commercial broadcaster’s place in Singapore’s

Tseng and Joanne Tseng from Taiwan, and Elvin Ng and Zoe Tay from Sin-

media world, expanding online alliances and subscription options, sign-

gapore. Executive producers are Wang Xiaodi (Taiwan) and Leong Lye

ing onto YouTube’s publishing platform for the first time, encouraging dif-

Lin (Singapore). Although Mediacorp has not disclosed the production

ferent types of production partnerships, digging into the nation’s roots

budget, it says the drama is among its most ambitious projects to date.

for content inspiration, consolidating broadcast channels, and rocking radio. And now what?

The multilingual 128 Circle is another ground-breaker for dipping into Singapore’s range of languages and dialects, commonly heard on the city’s

The obvious place to start is with All Is Well, 128 Circle and Last Ma-

streets but rarely – maybe never – on a single free-TV screen. And that’s

dame. All three original Mediacorp productions break new ground for

at the heart of Tham’s bid to reflect a real and relatable Singapore. 128

a national broadcaster with many masters and objectives (not all of

Circle is set in one of Singapore’s ubiquitous food centres, and follows a

them commercial) in an hyper-served, English-proficient market with

varied cast of characters that own stalls, work and eat there.

access to anything and everything and the ability, if not always the will, to pay for entertainment.

And finally, Last Madame, which debuted on 26 September and is as bold a move as Mediacorp has ever made. The 12-part half-hour se-

The push beyond comfort zones is Tham’s rallying cry. “Go big or go

ries for streaming service Toggle is about Singapore’s last brothel owner

home,” she says. “There’s no point being average.” Clearly a new dawn.

and her great granddaughter. The English-language show by Singapore

All Is Well, which premiered on Mediacorp platforms and on Taiwan

writer Jean Yeo opens with an auction for prostitutes, including a virgin

Television (TTV) at the end of August, is an ambitious Mandarin co-pro-

who sells “to the lady in red” for $500. The series was produced by local

duction with Taiwan’s Eightgeman. The 40-episode (2 x 20 episodes) se-

indie, Ochre Pictures.

ries weaves together an ATM hacking incident in Taiwan and a murder in


Like other broadcasters in the region, pushing content boundaries,

contentasia issue five, october 2019

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We’re not afraid of making hard decisions because we need to move forward.” Loke Kheng Tham Chief Executive, Mediacorp

thinking differently and collaborating in new ways is part of a bigger

and also understanding how we take IPs and engage across the differ-

strategy to do different or die. “We need to collaborate a lot more and

ent platforms,” Tham says.

we need to break out,” Tham said.

The new Mediacorp is not shying away from potential controversy,

The new approach doesn’t necessarily mean Singapore’s government

like shutting down kids linear channel Okto. “We’re not afraid of mak-

is giving Mediacorp a lot more money than usual. Tham says resources

ing those hard decisions because we need to move forward,” she says.

are shifting in line with content goals that are more relevant in an age of

The Okto decision was about being consumer focused. “Let’s not kid

disruption and competition. “It’s about taking a step back and looking at

ourselves, if you are four to 14 your primary platform is not television, it’s

what consumers really want,” she says.

YouTube or online platforms. As long as the TV channel is there we are

Mediacorp produces about 2,500 hours a year of original content, ex-

going to be thinking about 23-minute programmes. We shouldn’t be. We

cluding news. About 40% of output is commissioned from outside pro-

should be thinking about programmes of any length that tell the right

ducers, and the balance is made in-house. “We’re now wanting to take

story to that right target audience.”

that resource and experience and partner a lot more with different play-

Tham is dead against protecting one platform over the others, and

ers in the region to create much more interesting story lines,” Tham says.

so far audience results validate decisions like partnering with YouTube.

All Is Well is just the beginning. Mediacorp is also working with Singapore-

“There was some concern about canibalisation,” she says. The concern

listed Spackman Entertainment (Default) on Singapore-Korea drama Eq-

has proven to be needless. “So far we’ve seen that it’s accretive,” she

uity of Love.

says. With some adjustments perhaps. A recent public service broad-

Part of the new content thinking is about releasing creators from what

cast dialect drama commissioned by Singapore’s Ministry of Commu-

Tham calls the “tyranny of the programming grid”, which shackles them

nications targetting seniors had an interesting response on Toggle and

to fixed slots and channels and can hamper the ability to appeal to con-

YouTube. “We took a leap and dubbed it and put it on prime time with

sumers wherever they are. “We are not a platform company. We are

a window on Toggle, where it did about a million views. When we put it

a content company and we should be very focused on what our con-

on YouTube, it gathered another four million”.

sumers want,” she says. New targeting combines television, radio, online.

“It was a good story. It had a great cast. It stood the test of dub-

“We have a range of platforms but rather than thinking of each one of

bing into Mandarin for prime time and it stood the test of an OTT ex-

the platforms individually we should be looking at how consumers inter-

ploitation on YouTube and on Toggle as well. That showed us that it’s

act and engage with us on a daily basis, and how we optimise that”.

definitely accretive. Everything we’ve done across the different video

“When we say we think about our consumer and we don’t think about the grid it really means understanding how we can grow our audiences


platforms, including YouTube, has shown us that it’s accretive. All you need is great content.”

contentasia issue five, october 2019

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Humans China

When in China William Tan, Endemol Shine’s Beijing-based Managing Director for China, talks about a business and creative approach able to rock super-sized entertainment demand and roll with the punches.

Chinese co-developments of scripted series Humans, Younger and

In typical China fashion, none of the series has a broadcaster (or at

Broadchurch, along with a slate of co-developed entertainment for-

least not one Endemol Shine is willing to confirm or name) attached, and

mats, are on their way as part of hard-won agreements between En-

won’t until the final government clearances are complete. It’s the China

demol Shine’s China team and mainland broadcasters, platforms and

way, Tan, who has led Endemol Shine’s China strategy since early 2015,

production houses. At the same time, an international version of Chinese

says. And it has clearly never been for the feint-hearted.

mega-format, The Nation’s Greatest Treasures, is being readied for a debut at Mipcom this month along with a slate of new Asian content.

Humans breaks new ground in China, with its near-future backdrop and themes. Set in 2035, the series revolves around highly developed robotic

All of the scripted deals were unveiled over the past 16 months, and all

servants that become integral members of busy homes and offices. For

are in line for broadcast/streaming slots in a gigantic but tightly regulated

all its differences for China, the series, starring Ray Ma and Stephy Qi, re-

content market. Humans, with local production house, the Huace-linked

tains the slightly sinister emotional narrative of the U.K. original, exploring

Croton Media, was announced in July 2018, when filming on the sci-fi

the role of artificial intelligence and the revolving relationship between

series, was already under way. A local version of British drama Broad-

humans and technology.

church was announced in October last year, with licensee /producer

Tan acknowledges the risks of doing anything for the first time in China,

Blue&White&Red Pictures and IP trader Cloudwood. A 40-episode Chinese

where rules are strict and regulations can turn on a dime. But, after well

version of Younger with the Huace Group was announced in March.

over a decade on the ground in the market and with strong local partner-


contentasia issue five, october 2019


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I tell our partners in China there are three go’s – go in, go out and go deeper.” William Tan Managing Director, Endemol Shine China

ships, he says levels of uncertainty can be managed as far as is humanly

– couldn’t be more different in tone and theme from each other and

possible. “We have been very careful,” he says.

from Humans.

The near-future setting of Humans was part of the series’ pivot for China,

British crime investigation series, Broadchurch, is perhaps more challeng-

putting the time frame beyond the scope of, for instance, regulatory scru-

ing in China than Humans or Younger because the crime element triggers

tiny of extravagant period drama. But Tan says the time shift also made a

a need for police clearances. Even in the announcement in October 2018,

lot of sense for the market in being able to present viewers with something

Endemol Shine was careful to say that the show would be “adapted in

they have not seen before.

line with local regulations” – a commitment not specifically mentioned in

Another major adjustment to the way Humans will be presented in

the Younger announcement in March 2019.

China also has to do with the market rather than with censorship. The first

Endemol Shine is, with partners Blue&White&Red Pictures and Cloud-

season of Humans in the U.K., for example, went out as an eight-episode

wood, pressing on with Broadchurch. Tan says scripts are being written, but

series. This has swelled to 30-episodes for China, written by a large team

it’s not yet clear how the story might change. The original Broadchurch ex-

of about seven scriptwriters from the U.K. who joined the China team. Tan

plores what happens to a small community after the death of a young boy.

says 30 “is not really a magical number”. Series in China commonly run

The Chinese version of Younger is a 40-episode lighthearted series based

to 70 or 80 episodes. Because costs are high, “it makes sense to amortise

on five seasons of the original U.S. show about a woman who lies about

over 30 or 70 episodes instead of over eight or 10,” Tan says. In addition,

her age to get a job. Earlier this year, Huace Group’s international business

streaming platforms as well as satellite TV services tend to strip episodes,

VP, Cecilia Zhu, said the goal was to create “a fun representation of the

which means they need volume.

professional and personal lives of young people in China, reflecting their

Making sure audiences know about a show before they see it is part

views and the realities of modern life”.

of the broad industry challenge for marketers in China. Uncertain release

If premium drama is the flavour of the day, China retains a little of

dates make marketing campaigns difficult to plan. Tan says being on

its old taste for unscripted format acquisitions and a high appetite for

the ground gives him an edge. A series “could be cleared for broadcast

entertainment co-development, such as the acting reality show, Acting

in six months time or it could be tomorrow. So on one hand we need to

Up, developed by Hunan TV with Endemol Shine China. Another musical

always be well prepared, with all the marketing done ahead of time. At

reality talent show is on the way, also with Hunan TV. Much of this is driven

the same time, we need to be flexible to make sure that we allow time

by quotas on foreign acquisitions, the ability to adapt to whatever the

for a show to move or be delayed,” he says, adding: “This is why being

rule of the day is, and the lure of an international distribution network. Tan

near to the market works”.

says he always tells his China partners about his “Three Go’s – Go out. Go

Tan’s other two current scripted projects – Broadchurch and Younger


in. And go down further”. Sounds so simple.

contentasia issue five, october 2019

The most nominations at Taiwan’s 54th annual golden bell awards including best series & directing HBO Asia Originals The World Between Us The HBO Asia Original series, about the aftermath of a mass shooting, received 14 nominations at the annual Awards. Now streaming HBO GO (SM) Get HBO GO now! HBO, HBO Asia Originals and related marks are service marks of Home Box Office, Inc. Used with permission. (C)2019 HBO Asia. (C)2019 Taiwan Public Television Service Foundation. All rights reserved


Power play Rise to Power

iflix’s latest slate features powerful women, epic romance and horror, all with roots in well-known Malaysian and Indonesian properties but with a twist of their own. The streaming platform’s global director of original programming, Mark Francis, says data from earlier commissions means he doesn’t have to politicise decisions on new originals. iflix’s original production initiatives have wound a steady path through

Underworld seasons one (August 2018) and two (2020), which goes into

the streaming platform’s often-gyrating corporate landscape, starting

production in November. Dynas Mokhtar reprises her role in the film as the

with low-hanging fruit (adaptations of well-known IP such as KL Gang-

take-no-prisoners Madam Wong, the only woman ever to lead a Kuala

ster), reaching for the stars (securing politician Anwar Ibrahim as a

Lumpur gang. The film is produced by Skop Productions (Evolusi KL Drift 2,

guest on talk show Hot Ones), and documentary (Bangkit: 11 Days That

KL Gangster) and directed by Faisal Ishak and Syafiq Yusof.

Changed a Nation about Malaysia’s 2018 election), and, in September, KL Gangster Underworld spinoff telemovie, Rise to Power. “Our first set of shows was planting a flag. Now we have proof of con-

Francis greenlit the telemovie for a mix of reasons, led by the time it was going to take to reunite the ensemble cast for season two of the series. Plus he thinks telemovies are under-exploited on streaming platforms.

cept and we are creating the content buckets and narrowing down the

The pull towards more from where KL Gangster was a no-brainer. “Data

genres we want to build,” says global director of original programming,

means I don’t have to politicise why we’re doing something,” Francis told

Mark Francis.

delegates at the ContentAsia Summit in Singapore at the end of August.

What does that look like? Epic romance (Ombak Rindu) as well as if-

For the romance element of the new slate, iflix has partnered with In-

lix’s first foray into horror, a genre typically restricted and censored on

finitus Entertainment on Ombak Rindu, a four-part miniseries adapted

mainstream TV. Francis describes horror as a “big niche... it’s a pillar that

from Fauziah Ansari’s novels about a woman sold into prostitution by her

we want to grow”. iflix’s first serialised horror title is Kisah Tanah Jawa:

uncle, and who later convinces her rapist to marry her to legitimise the

Merapi with Indonesia’s Rapi Films (Satan’s Slaves) and Conversations

relationship. The series comes eight years after the 2011 theatrical movie

with Ghosts (working title) from Screenplay. Upcoming originals also in-

and rounds out the story of Izzah (Izara Aishah) and Hariz (Remy Ishak)

clude an eight-episode second season of KL Gangster Underworld.

“as they face near-insurmountable trials of their love when dark secrets

But first, Rise to Power. The telemovie, which premiered on 19 September on iflix’s free tier, fills the gap between action crime series KL Gangster


from the past surface”. Osman Ali, who spearheaded the 2011 movie, has returned to direct the series.

contentasia issue five, october 2019

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Francis describes Ombak Rindu as “a deeply local story” that was equally loved and panned when it was released in 2011. That’s exactly the kind of story he’s after. “I believe with drama, you have to press where it hurts, push towards the conflict and find creative solutions,” he says. Alongside romance, there’s horror. Six-part Blair Witch-inspired series, Kisah Tanah Jawa, with Rapi Films (Pengabdi Setan), follows Andi and Babon on an ill-fated quest to find their friend, who has gone missing on a hike up the mystical Mount Merapi. The

The first set of shows was planting a flag. Now we have proof of concept and we are creating the content buckets and narrowing down the genres we want to build.”

series debuts for Halloween. Kisah Tanah Jawa is followed by Conversation with Ghosts, with teen movie star Amanda Rawles as Thalia, a girl desperate to settle into a new school but plagued by

Mark Francis Global Director of Original Programming, iflix

supernatural events. The series is produced by Screenplay Films. Francis’ early quest, based on a hunch in the absence of data, was the gap between high-volume free-to-air TV and movies that OTT servic-

franchises, like KL Gangster, and why he has gone for Kisah Tanah Jawa

es could fill with premium drama series. The questions he asked: “Where

with Rapi Films, which was behind Indonesia’s biggest box office horror

is real engagement with young audiences for local storytelling? Where

film of all time. “Familiarity is important because I make television for the

is that ecosystem healthiest?” The answer: “It’s healthy where you have

uninvested viewer. If you’re uninvested... there is a plethora of content

markets like Indonesia, where half the top 20 films last year were local

options,” he says, adding: “We need to break through the clutter”.

Indonesian films. I looked at that as a sort of steer.” And so began the quest for series of limited length, six to eight episodes rather than 20 or 30. This meant working with movie studios and “creating

No conversation about iflix these days excludes a mention of the company’s hoped-for IPO, pencilled in for end-2019. Francis can’t comment, but he does have to field production budget questions from producers.

budgets that allow us to go into genre storytelling. That would be the dif-

“I’m very transparent from the top,” he says. “Our budgets are not Net-

ferentiation we needed, to create the impact we need, in order to draw

flix or HBO Asia budgets, but they do make sense for local studios. Often

audiences with the genres – horror, romance, action adventure, comedy

our partnerships include licensing their movies as well as extending their

– that work in Southeast Asia”.

IP into originals. So that’s an additional incentive, at a decent budget.”

The question and dilemma for iflix (and everyone else) is, with so much

iflix’s original programming division has not been entirely insulated

content out there, how will they stand out? “That’s why I really think about

from the company’s pivots. Some of the projects Francis has planned

the publicity and marketability of an idea before we even commission

have been delayed. “Those projects just haven’t gone away,” he says,

it,” he adds. And that explains the attraction of familiar entertainment

adding: They’ve just slowed down to meet our ability to afford them.”


contentasia issue five, october 2019

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Anne can... & will JKN Global Media CEO Anne Jakrajutatip has created a whole new footprint for Thai content outside Thailand and is generating unprecedented energy for Indian and Philippines’ content inside. She talked to ContentAsia about what she’s doing, why and how.

When Bangkok-based distributor JKN Global Media sold 265 hours of local

million/US$49,000 to THB2 million/US$66,000 (excluding lead actors), up

drama into Korea a few weeks ago, a new era opened for Thai drama.

from an average of THB1 million/US$33,000 18 months ago.

“Thai production and storytelling have evolved; we can appeal to a highly

JKN Global Media’s September deal in Korea puts eight drama series

sophisticated market like Korea,” says chief executive Anne Jakrajutatip.

from Thai free-TV Channel 3 onto TRA Media’s national cable channels,

There are solid reasons. Production budgets, even though these are still

Smile TV Plus (entertainment), which has 26.1 million households, and TVA

a quarter or less than in Korea, have increased; volume is up; filmmakers

Plus (Asian drama channel), which is distributed to 12.6 million households.

are moving into television, bringing with them a higher-end theatrical

The agreement marks Channel 3 owner BEC World’s debut in the Korean

look and feel; and post production skills, which have long been a selling

market, and is part of a drive to expand its international footprint. Series

point for Thailand in the region, remain among the strongest in the region.

going to TRA include Love Destiny, Thong Ek – Herbal Master, Nakee the

At the top end, per-episode drama budgets are in the range of THB1.5 44

series and Tales of the Two Cities.

contentasia issue five, october 2019


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An old hand at Asian content acquisition for Thailand, Jakrajutatip has

Initial activities involved distributing foreign content – including Indian

driven a Thai content export agenda for the past 18 months, opening

and Philippines’ IP – in Thailand. More recently, JKN signed an exclusive

new opportunities for Thai drama series, documentaries and movies. In

deal with one of Thailand’s oldest media companies, BEC World, to dis-

addition to the landmark Korean deal, JKN Global Media has sold Thai

tribute its drama IP internationally.

content in Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia and Singapore, much of it for the first time.

In addition to its distribution business, JKN Global Media has four subsidiaries – JKN Channel Co Ltd, which produces the Anne Show, and other

The marketing initiative comes with the rah-rah fanfare Jakrajutatip has

content as well as organising events, and operates the JKN Dramax ad-

made her calling card. “You have to be the ambassador of your own

supported cable/satellite channel; JKN IMC, which focuses on advertising

product and you have to be the product,” she said on the eve of JKN

sales and integrated marketing; JKN News, which has a 10-year licence to

Global Media’s fourth annual upfronts and showcase in Bangkok in mid-

produce CNBC-branded programming for Thailand; and, coming soon,

September. “We’re selling content... we have to entertain people. You

JKN Knowledge, which will operate a training business.

just cannot be boring,” she said.

Jakrajutatip has a keen sense of what it takes to sell non-Thai content to

As if.

Thai audiences in a market with an overwhelming preference for home-

Much of Jakrajutatip’s life is captured on camera for an audience,

grown stories. “You have to transform the content into your own content,”

including her own talk show, Anne Show, broadcast on the JKN Dramax

she says. Acquiring content is step one. “I tell people all the time that we

channel and on JKN’s official YouTube channel, which has 90,000 follow-

are involved in investment, not just acquisitions,” she says.

ers. Jakrajutatip’s official Instagram account has more than 55,000 fol-

“To drive ratings in Thailand, you need to transform programmes into

lowers. On Facebook, she has upwards of 400,000 followers. A September

Thai, not just with subtitling, or even dubbing, but in making connections

Facebook post with Jakrajutatip’s OK! magazine cover hit one million likes,

with the audience with, for example, completely new original sound

almost 11,000 comments and more than 7,000 shares in 10 days. “I’m quite lucky that I’m a celebrity in Thailand,” she says. “Basically I’m on screen almost every day... I keep talking about content. A camera

tracks. We bring the stars to Thailand. There’s a high-profile end-to-end 360-degree marketing strategy, including concerts, for viewers/fans to experience content and to drive them back to screens.”

crew follows me everywhere. This is how I build up my followers. They see

For instance, JKN creates new original sound tracks for Philippines’ dra-

the content that I bring into Thailand. They want to watch. You have to

mas, including My Husband’s Lover from GMA Network. The soundtracks

build your fan base. You have to build the audience.”

are the basis for albums and concerts, all designed to drive audiences

After a long career in home entertainment, including after-school stints

between platforms. She’s taken the same approach to other content over

at her family’s video rental operation, Jakrajutatip founded JKN Global

two decades with, among others, content from Discovery, BBC and History.

Media as an independent company five years ago. She listed t h e

But all the shiny stuff in the world won’t help a title that’s not relevant

company on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in November

for the market. “You have to understand this first, title selection is very


important,” Jakrajutatip says. Next on her agenda is upsizing original production, beginning

To drive ratings in Thailand, you need to transform programmes into Thai, not just with languaging, but in making connections with the audience.” Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip CEO, JKN Global Media plc

with The Prince of Ayodhya, a 40-episode live-action drama based on the ancient Hindu classic, The Ramayana, with a mixed cast from Thailand and India. “This has been my inspiration since i was young,” Jakrajutatip says. The series is scheduled for release in 2021. Her other inspiration is Oprah Winfrey (“I watch her every night. I want to be a storyteller. I want to inspire people,” she says), and her favourite song is I Wanna Touch the Sky, which was written especially for her recently launched Lift Foundation Life Inspired for Transsexuals). The song was her idea – and she appeared in the music video. “No matter who you are – disadvantaged transsexual or you’re born straight but you feel that you’re not good enough, you got bullied at school and you don’t have perfect family life, whatever doesn’t matter. You can do it... everything is possible when you believe in yourself”.


contentasia issue five, october 2019

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Watch list Taiwan and Japan are awash with domestic streaming services offering everything from free-TV catch-up to a growing slate of originals. Malena Amzah looks at who’s who in the two markets that top the list of local streamers by volume among 18 countries in Asia. 2019, directed by Masaharu Take), about pornography pioneer Toru Muranishi; The Forest of

mestic streaming services in the first half of this year,

Love (premieres Oct 2019, produced by Hiroshi Muto), about the merciless Jo Murata; and

led by Taiwan, with 18 platforms (excluding regional/

Followers (2020, directed by Mika Ninagawa), about a group of Tokyo-ites crossing path

global streamers although they are increasingly ad-

through social media. Netflix is also backing Japanese original, Alice in Borderland (2020),

ding Chinese content) and Japan, which has 15 plat-

based on Haro Aso’s sci-fi manga about a life-or-death

forms (excluding Amazon Prime Video, which is focu-

game directed by Shinsuke Sato (Kingdom).

sed almost entirely on Japan and India, and Netflix).

Netflix’s 2019 commissions also include kids ani-

Including regional/global players, we counted 24

mated comedy Dino Girl Gauko from Japan-

platforms in Taiwan and 20 in Japan.

ese creator/showrunner Akira Shigino, pro-

Japan has three platforms on the list of the 15 bi-

duced by Hitoshi Mogi (Crayon Shin-chan,

ggest streaming earners in Asia Pacific identified by

Line Town). In addition, Netflix has inked

Media Partners Asia (MPA) in 2019. The three Japane-

partnerships with three local compa-

se platforms are Hulu Japan, dTV and Niconico. Hulu

nies – Anima, Sublimation and David

Japan places 9th, followed by dTV in 10th spot and

Production – for titles such as Altered

Niconico at 12th.

Carbon: Resleeved from Anima and

Combined, the 15 take 70% of total online video revenues in the region this year. MPA says Japan is

Dragon’s Dogma from Sublimation. Amazon headliners out of Japan

the largest online video country by revenue (ex Chi-

include the third season of the

na). In total, Asia Pacific advertising and subscription

local adaptation of Warner Bros’

revenue this year (ex China) is forecast to be US$11

The Bachelor, released in Sep-

billion. By 2024, this is expected to more than double

tember 2019. 31-year-old entre-

to US$23 billion.

preneur, Shinya Tomonaga,

Both global, regional and local streaming services

plays the bachelor

are backing original production in Asia, some more

in the new series.

than others but together driving up output, content


spend and opportunity.


Global streaming wars are already well under


also The

Bachelorette for

way in Japan – an Amazon stronghold – with Netflix

Japan. The show

upping its executive firepower on the ground and

goes into producti-

pushing forward with its anime and other originals.

on this month.

Apple TV+ has included Japan in its 1 November roll

The Bachelorette, Amazon Prime Video Japan

Asia had at least 134* home-grown dedicated do-



out, but hasn‘t disclosed any content localisation.



Disney+ is expected to roll out in Japan in 2020.

2019 online video re-

Netflix‘s 2019 originals slate out of Japan includes

venue leader – Hulu

the eight-part The Naked Director (premiered Aug

Japan – has invested in a few, high-end co-

* The 18 countries ContentAsia looked at are China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Regional streaming platforms were only counted if they have strong localisation for domestic audiences in specific countries.


-productions. Hulu Japan, which launched in Japan in 2011 and was acquired by commercial free-TV powerhouse Nippon TV in early

contentasia issue five, october 2019


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contentasia issue five, october 2019



Triad Princess, Netflix

free-TV powerhouse Nippon TV in early 2014, celebrated its eighth anni-

ginals include season three of anthology LGBT series, HIStory; the first two

versary in September, with the clock ticking on the premiere of its second

seasons streamed in 2017/2018.

co-production with HBO Asia – international thriller, The Head, about a

Taiwanese pay-TV operator Kbro, which operates seven-year old on-de-

group of scientists trapped in Antarctica with a killer among them. The

mand service, Super MOD, is also backing original production, including

six-part mini-series series, shooting in Europe for a 2020 global release, is

20-episode drama, A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities (2018). The series was

led by Spain’s The Mediapro Studio. The cast includes Japanese idol/

produced with Netflix and Taiwanese filmmaker Nelson Yeh’s Good Image

singer/actor, Yamashita Tomohisa (aka Yamapi). The Head followed Hulu

along with a grant from Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture. The story follows two

Japan‘s first international co-production, Miss Sherlock (2018), an eight-

women – a Chinese medicine practitioner in Taipei and a Taiwanese-Ame-

-episode contemporary female-led series set in Tokyo based on Sir Arthur

rican programmer in San Francisco – who swap homes. The series aired

Conan Doyle’s classic.

on Netflix and free-TV channels FTV and PTS first, and streamed on Taiwan

In Taiwan regional/global services are ramping up Mandarin pro-

Mobile’s seven-year-old free platform, MyVideo, with a one-hour delay.

gramming, adding to a growing line-up of regional co-productions. The-

Netflix‘s first fully funded Mandarin original, Nowhere Man, premieres

re‘s also new money coming from Taiwan-based regional streaming plat-

on 31 October 2019. The series, written/directed by Taiwan’s DJ Chen,

form GagaOOlala‘s Gol Studios, which backs LGBTQ projects.

is about a death row inmate who plans a jailbreak to save his son only

Upcoming co-productions include The Haunted Heart, from Warner-

to find himself in an even more dangerous situation. Nowhere Man is fol-

Media and local production house Phenomena; and the 40-episode

lowed by Mandarin/Taiwanese action comedy, Triad Princess, from Sin-

All Is Well, a co-pro between Singapore‘s Mediacorp and Taiwan‘s

gapore-listed production house mm2 and Taiwan’s Goodfilms Workshop.

Eightgeman; the show airs on two Mediacorp free TV broadcast

The Neal Wu-directed story, which premieres on 6 December, is about

channels, on free-TV channel Taiwan Television (TTV) in Taiwan, and

the daughter of a mafia boss who defies her father and becomes a

streams on Mediacorp‘s Toggle. WarnerMedia has not yet said where

bodyguard. Netflix’s third Chinese original, Ghost Bride, stars Taiwan’s Wu

The Haunted Heart will air/stream, but it‘s difficult to think there won‘t be

Kang Jen, although the show was driven out of Malaysia by Zainir Aminul-

a regional/global angle.

lah’s Revolution Media (formerly Ideate Media); Ghost Bride releases in

Recent series also include The World Between Us (March 2019), a

January 2020. Netflix’s originals run alongside ramped up acquisitions ac-

10-episode co-pro between Taiwan’s Public Television Service (PTS) Fou-

tivities, including glove puppetry series Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons and

ndation and HBO Asia. PTS operates catch-up service, PTS Plus. HBO Asia

Dear Studio’s comedy Dear Ex.

operates stand-alone streaming platform HBO Go, which is not yet available in Taiwan but streams the series across the rest of the region.

What’s most likely to happen next? Maybe platform consolidation as the battle rages for a share of the region’s (ex-China) US$23 billion fore-

Another streamer with an originals pipeline in Taiwan is Line TV, ow-

cast ad/subscription revenues by 2024. Outside of China, Japan will lead

ned by Korea‘s Naver and managed by Taiwan‘s Choco Media. Naver

with Taiwan in sixth place, according to MPA forecasts. On the produc-

acquired Choco‘s streaming service, Choco TV, in November 2018. Line

tion front, our prediction is that demand for original programming will

TV in Taiwan streams 11 web series produced by Choco Media. 2019 ori-

increase as competition rises, even if there are fewer players.


contentasia issue five, october 2019


Gaumont Animation & Family 750 North San Vicente Boulevard, Suite RW 1000, West Hollywood, CA 90069, U.S. E: MIPCOM 2019 Stand: #R8.C1

Who’s who... Nicolas Atlan President, Animation & Family Terry Kalagian SVP, Creative Development, Animation & Family Laura Laas VP, International TV Sales, Animation & Family

© 2019 Gaumont Animaaon. All Rights Reserved.

© 2019 Gaumont Animation USA LLC. All Rights Reserved.

© 2018 Alice Guy Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Touch the Earth

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Max, a malfunctioning bionic guinea pig and his goldfish buddy, JC, escape from their laboratory into the bustling streets of Woodchuck Woods. But adapting to the urban jungle is no small feat for our pair of intrepid misfits, who try to fit in with the local wildlife while living madcap and



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man and Chris Conrad.

Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific TV

contentasia issue five, october 2019



Japan’s who who

What Live/on-demand platform owned by global sports media group Perform Launched Aug 2016 What’s on About 10,000 live sports events a year (including matches from MLB, NBA, NFL, PGA Tour) via most connected devices How much Monthly subscription (without contract) is ¥1,750/US$16

Dogatch TV

About 10-year-old VOD service, acTVila, launched on 1 Feb 2007, geo-blocked for Japan Owner Actvila Corporation, a JV formed in July 2006 by six companies, including Panasonic and Sony. In Feb 2017, Wowow acquired 75.71% of acTVila’s shares What’s on 52,000+ video-on-demand content (Feb 2019) How much No fees

About Online TV portal, geoblocked for Japan Owner Presentcast, a joint venture established in Apr 2006 by five commercial terrestrial networks (Nippon TV, TBS, Fuji Television, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo) and four advertising agencies (Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY Media Partners, Asatsu – DK, Tokyu Agency) Launched Dec 2006 What’s on Drama, animation, variety, sports events, news Pricing Free and premium (from ¥324/US$2.85 a month)

Amazon Prime Video



The Bachelor Japan 3

Launched in Japan Sept 2015 What’s on Local/foreign movies, TV programmes, anime series, music concerts, variety shows, Amazon originals Originals/Co-production Japan is a key original video market for Amazon Prime Video. This year’s line up includes season three of the local version of Warner Bros’ The Bachelor. The reality dating series released in Sept 2019 (S2 in 2018, S1 in 2017). Production on spin-off, The Bachelorette, is scheduled to start in Oct 2019 Content partners CBS Studios Int’l, Fuji TV, HBO, Mainichi Broadcasting System (MBS), NBCUniversal, TBS TV, TV Asahi, TV Tokyo, Viacom Int’l Media Networks, Warner Bros How much Included in Prime subscription of ¥4,900/US$45 a year or ¥500/US$4.60 a month *Exchange rate at ¥107.87 to US$1


About Online video streaming, geo-blocked for Japan Operated by Avex Broadcasting and Communications, a JV between Avex Group Holdings and NTT Docomo Launched Nov 2011 as d-Video/BeeTV No. of subs 4.34 million (Dec 2018, updates not reported) What’s on About 120,000 local/international titles from 30+ channels How much ¥500/US$4.60 a month for unlimited viewing

Fuji TV On Demand (FOD)

About Multimedia entertainment service of Japan’s commercial broadcaster Fuji TV Owned by Fuji Television Network Launched Apr 2008 No. of subs About 800,000 paying subscribers, five million monthly users (May 2019) Who’s in charge Kazuo Nomura, director, digital media service content creation and distribution, general business department, Fuji Television Network, Inc What’s on New series and archives of Fuji-produced dramas and

movies, among other genres. Also focuses on original content exclusively made for FOD distribution, including King of Novel (10x23 mins, launched 23 Apr 2019) about ©Fuji Television Networks, Inc.

Consumers in Japan have access to a plethora of regional/global streaming services, including the new Apple TV+, which launches in Japan on 1 November as part of the global roll out with the same one-year free subscription bundled into new devices, and ¥600/ US$5.55* a month for regular subscribers. There’s no sign yet that Apple plans to add Japanese content. Customised platforms for Japan are...


King of Novel

three friends and their desire to publish a book that would defy aliteracy and save the shrinking book-publishing business How much ¥888/US$8 a month


About A free, ad-supported video streaming service Owner Yahoo! Japan, operated by subsidiary GyaO Corporation Launched Oct 2008 What’s on 80,000+ titles (drama, animation, music, movies, comedy clips) from more than 300 content partners

Hulu Japan

Miss Sherlock

About SVOD service Owned by Nippon TV (70%), Hulu LLC, Yahoo Japan, TOHO, Yomiuri TV, Chukyo TV Launched in Japan Sept 2011 by Hulu U.S. and acquired by Nippon TV in Apr 2014 No. of subs 2 million (Mar 2019) Content boss Kazufumi Nagasawa, managing director & chief content officer What’s on Lineup includes local/int’l films/series. Also invests in regional/int’l coproductions such as Mediapro Studio’s upcoming survival thriller The Head How much ¥933/US$8.50 a month for unlimited access


Distribution Available direct Launched in Japan Sept 2015

The Naked Director

Content strategy Netflix is paying special attention to Japan these days, among other initiatives upping executive strength on the ground in Tokyo. In June, the streamer unveiled a Japanese originals slate that includes the eight-part The Naked Director (premiered Aug 2019, directed by Masaharu Take), which explores the rise of pornography pioneer Toru Muranishi; The Forest of Love (premieres Oct 2019, produced by Hiroshi Muto), about the merciless Jo Murata; and Followers (2020, directed by Mika Ninagawa), about a group of Tokyo-ites crossing path through social media. 2019 commissions include kids animated comedy Dino Girl Gauko from Japanese creator/showrunner Akira Shigino, produced by Hitoshi Mogi (Crayon Shin-chan, Line Town). Netflix has also inked partnerships with three local production companies – Anima, Sublimation and David Production – for titles such as Altered Carbon: Resleeved from Anima and Dragon’s Dogma from Sublimation How much One-month free trial for new members. Plans cost from ¥800/US$7.30 (SD, one screen) to ¥1,800/US$16.40 a month (HD/4K UHD, four concurrent screens)

NHK on Demand (NOD)

About Fee-based, VOD service offering catch-up NHK programming and other content Owned by Public broadcaster NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) Launched Dec 2008 What’s on Mostly NHK shows, available two weeks after the original free-to-air broadcast. NHK’s library titles are also available on the platform How much ¥972/US$8.80 a month. A la carte from ¥108/US$1 a title

contentasia issue five, october 2019


About Video sharing website, the Japanese equivalent of YouTube. Formerly known as Nico nico Douca or Nico-do Owned by Dwango Launched Dec 2006 What’s on User-generated content, interactive live streaming content, VOD (including drama, movies, anime, documentaries and sports) How much Free/premium subscription (¥540/US$4.75 a month or ¥6,480/US$60 a year)


About SVOD service Owned by Premium Platform Japan, made up by TBS (31.5%), and five other media companies Launched Apr 2018 What’s on Offers a range of genres, including drama, news and original content How much ¥925/US$8.60 a month

Rakuten ShowTime

Owned by Rakuten Launched in 2002 What’s on 180,000+ video titles, ranging from Japanese drama to Korean drama/movies and anime How much Select content is free. A la carte starts from ¥108/US$1 a title (for 72 hours). Monthly plans start from ¥690/US$6.40 for the Rakuten Pacific League Special to ¥2,149/US$19.60 for the Premium Unlimited pack

Tsutaya TV

Owned by T-Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Japan’s Culture Convenience Club (CCC) Launched Aug 2008 What’s on About 72,000 (of which 50,000 are HD) local, regional, international titles, consisting of movies, drama, animation and adult series How much ¥933/US$9 a month

TV Tokyo On Demand

Owned by Terrestrial TV broadcaster TV Tokyo Corporation What’s on Mostly catch-up TV shows, available for a week after the original free-to-air broadcast. Also offers business/news content via TV Tokyo Biz On Demand for ¥500/US$4.60 a month


About Free catch-up service Operated by Presentcast, a JV between five commercial TV stations (Nippon TV, TV Asahi, TBS, TV Tokyo, Fuji TV) and four ad agencies. Presentcast also manages OTT service Dogatch TV Launched Oct 2015 What’s on TV content, including drama and variety series from the five networks and their affiliate companies. Each network supplies about 10-15 programmes a week. Shows are available for a week


Owned by Korea’s CJ ENM Launched Dec 2016 What’s on Live TV channels/VOD content, including all content produced for CJ ENM’s 16 channels. Plus Hollywood & Korean movies


Owned by U-Next Launched Feb 2009 What’s on 140,000+ titles (movies, drama, animation, kids, variety, karaoke clips, documentary series) from local, regional and international studios How much ¥1,990/US$18.20 a month for unlimited viewing

Video Pass

Owned by KDDI Corporation Launched May 2012 What’s on Local/international content, including movies, drama series, anime and music How much ¥562/US$5.10 a month

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Taiwan’s who who 4gTV

Launched Jul 2015 What’s on 100+ live TV channels and VOD TV/movies How much From NT$99/US$3 for 31 channels to NT$168/US$5 for 80 channels

Apple TV+

Launches 1 Nov 2019 How much NT$170/US$5.50 a month


Owned by MSO CNS Launched Sept 2017, in co-operation with Catchplay on Demand What’s on Hollywood/Chinese content How much Basic monthly plan costs NT$99/US$3.20

Catchplay on Demand

Elta OTT

Launched Jan 2016 Owned by Elta TV What’s on Live streaming TV channels and VOD content Pricing NT$115/US$3.70 a month


About Mobile TV app via Samsung mobile phone Launched 2014 Owned by Chinese Satellite TV Communications Group (CSTV) What’s on More than 50 TV channels and VOD content


Launched Nov 2015 Owned by Telco Far EasTone What’s on Live TV channels and local content, Korean/Japanese/ Holllywood shows, sports, animation, documentary Pricing NT$199/US$6.40 a month


The World Between Us

About Streaming VOD movie service Owned by Catchplay Launched Mar 2016 What’s on Local, regional, international, Hollywood movies Pricing From NT60/US$1.90 a title Who’s in charge Daphne Yang, CEO Content partners NBCUniversal, Warner Bros, Paramount, Disney, int’l/local indies

Chunghwa Multimedia On Demand (MOD)

Owned by Taiwan’s largest telco Chunghwa Telecom No. of users 2.1 million MOD subscribers at the end of Aug 2019 What’s on 180+ live TV channels (incl 130 HD) and 10,000 hours of VOD content, including movies, sports and kids

*Exchange rate at NT$30.9 to US$1


Bao Bao

About LGBTQ-focused online streaming service Launched 2017 Owned by Content aggregator Portico Media Who’s in charge Jay Lin, CEO What’s on Premium festival/ art house movies and award winners from around the world, including Monja Art’s Seventeen, Yan England’s 1:54, and Stephan Lacant’s Free Fall, as well as documentaries, drama series and original content Originals 23 titles were listed in the originals section for Sept 2019, including talkshow Rainbow Hashtalk. Production initiative, GOL Studios, launched in Dec 2018 to facilitate the financing and production of LGBTQ content. The aim is to back 10-15 projects a year, including films, short-form and series Pricing Free and premium at NT$250/US$8 a month


Owned by Taiwan’s mobile operator Asia Pacific Telecom What’s on 160+ live TV channels, incl 67 HD & VOD content. News, sports, movies, variety shows, drama series, kids and music Pricing NT$299/US$10 a month

Hami TV

About Mobile TV service Launched Dec 2014 Owned by Chunghwa Telecom What’s on Live TV channels/VOD. Drama series from mainland China, Taiwan and Korea, movies and animation series Pricing NT$168/US$5.40 a month. VOD content costs from NT$149/ US$4.80 a month to NT$199/ US$6.40 a month

Choco TV by Choco Media What’s on Movies, TV series, cartoons, music videos, original web series and regional content from Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China Pricing Free, ad-supported


Launched Mar 2015 Users 600 monthly unique users What’s on Up to 400 local/int’l TV channels (news, sports, finance, politics, drama, film, variety, animation, travel, kids) and 25,000+ hours of on-demand video/audio services Pricing NT$299/US$9.70 a month for the Value Pack. The VOD pack costs NT$99/US$3.20 a month



About Mainland Chinese streaming platform Launched 2010 in China, Mar 2016 in Taiwan What’s on Original and licensed drama series, variety, docus, movies, kids, sports Originals Unveiled its first original Taiwanese slate in 2018; four 24 x 45 minute web series Meet Me @ 1006, about a lawyer who finds a strange woman in his apartment at the same time every night; Befriend, about a debt collector who helps solve relationship conflicts; Plant Goddess, about a music executive stranded in a rural village; and music show Re-play How much NT$227/US$7.30 a month or NT$1,899/US$61 a year


Launched Aug 2016 Owned by KKBox, majority owned by Japan’s telco KDDI What’s on TV channels and VOD content from Taiwan, Korea, China and Japan Pricing Select content is offered for free. Access to unlimited content (bundled with KKBox Prime) costs NT$149/US$4.80 a month or NT$447/US$14.50 for 3 months

Line TV Taiwan

About Online streaming platform launched by South Korea’s search engine service Naver Launched Mar 2018, revamped in Nov 2018 following a merger with homegrown streaming service

Doctor Who, BBC Studios

Launched Nov 2012 Owned by Taiwan Mobile What’s on Local/int’l content, including movies, anime, TV drama, news, concerts and animation. There is also a BBC-branded section with titles such as action drama series The Musketeers, sci-fi series Doctor Who seasons one to 11 and crime drama Luther Co-production myVideo collaborated with Kbro/Netflix to produce A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities (released Sept 2018) Who’s in charge Daphne Lee, VP of new media service business


Triad Princess

Pricing From NT$270/US$8.80 a month for one SD screen; NT$390/ US$12.70 for four HD/UHD screens Content Netflix’s early foray into Mandarin original production includes Nowhere Man, a series written and directed by Taiwan’s DJ Chen and filmed in Taiwan. Nowhere Man premieres on 31

contentasia issue five, october 2019

Oct 2019. Another Taiwanese original series is action comedy Triad Princess, from Singapore-listed mm2 and Taiwan’s Good Films Workshop. The Neal Wu-directed story is about sweet but fierce Angie (played by Eugenie Liu), who, after growing up under the shadow of her mafia-affiliated father, defies his wishes and takes on a gig as a bodyguard of a famous actress to get closer to her love interest, superstar Xu Yi Hang (played by Jasper Liu). Triad Princess debuts on 6 Dec 2019 Local acquisitions Netflix Chineselanguage acquisitions over the past year includes films and TV series such as Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons (premiered July 2019 on Netflix), a glove puppetry series from Pili International Multimedia. There is also 2018 film Dear Ex (premiered on Netflix in Feb 2019), a melancholy comedy written by writer Shiyuan Lu and produced by Dear Studio Distribution partners include Chunghwa Telecom, which rolled out its dedicated STB embedded with Netflix 4K content in Jan 2019


Launched June 2018 Owned by Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC) What’s on About 50 live TV channels, including six TBC-branded services

Super MOD

A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities

Launched Sept 2012 Owner Multiple system operator Kbro What’s on Acquired and in-house produced content, including A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities (2018), a co-production between Netflix and Taiwanese filmmaker Nelson Yeh’s Good Image (along with a grant from Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture). The 20-episode

series, set across Taipei and San Francisco, follows two women – a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner in Taipei and a Taiwanese-American programmer in San Francisco – who swap homes and then follow their cultural odysseys in each city Pricing Monthly subscriptions include HBO HD movies package at NT$20/US$0.70, HD99 package includes CBeebies, BBC Earth, tvN, Warner TV and AMC at NT$99/US$3.20

PTS Plus

The Teenage Psychic 2



Launched 2016. Revamped in Y Oct 2017 CM Owned by Taiwan’s public service broadcaster, Public Television MY Service Foundation (PTS) What’s on Catch-up TV / libraryCY VOD content, including PTS/HBO CMY Asia series The World Between Us K and The Teenage Psychic. The Teenage Psychic is PTS’ first international project with HBO Asia. It is also HBO Asia’s first original Chinese series produced in Taiwan

Vee TV

About Cloud-based TV/multimedia platform Owned by Vee Time What’s on 150+ local/international channels and VOD titles How much From NT$99/US$3 for 21 channels to NT$585/US$18 for 110+ channels. Add-on pack is NT$150/US$4.70 a month for 21 premium channels


Launched 2015 Owned by Taiwanese programmer Sanlih E-Television (SET) What’s on Sanlih-branded live TV channels and in-house drama/ variety shows How much Free and premium (NT$870/US$28 a year)

Bolivar Living to Love The Queen and the conqueror Mipcom Cannes Booth P0.B1 50 Sharing Stories Be our story @caracolTVIntl /

ContentAsia’s streaming listings are compiled by Malena Amzah at

contentasia 55


S is for...

YiLi Ma and Weiguang Gao in Miss S

... Shanghai. Sweet. Smart. And Miss Su, the star of a Chinese adaptation of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which is on its way to China in a scripted deal that breaks new ground for Aussie drama. Independent, glamorous and unflappable detective, Miss S, debuts in

as many suitors. “We can’t let Miss S change boyfriends every night,” Jin

China in spring 2020, breaking new ground for Australian scripted drama

says. What she can do is be more independent and much warmer. “We

adaptations and upping indie distributor all3media international’s involve-

strengthened those aspects,” he told delegates at the ContentAsia Sum-

ment in Asia’s booming scripted formats environment.

mit in Singapore at the end of August.

The 30-episode Mandarin version of high-end Australian drama, Miss

“Miss S represents Miss Shanghai and any lady from Shanghai, basically,

Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, set in 1930s Shanghai, stars Ma Yi Li as the

is sweeter... more feminine,” he adds. This, for instance, translates to fight

eponymous lady detective, Miss S. Distributed by all3media international’s

scenes that are, as fight scenes go, more feminine. Smart is another “S”

Singapore-based regional office, the series is produced by the Shanghai

he adds to the list of reasons for the China-version’s name. Plus, of course,

99 Visual Company in collaboration with Tencent Penguin Film and artist

the character’s name is Miss Su.

management company Easy Entertainment.

But perhaps Jin’s biggest challenge was adding elements to the story line

The original show was created by Australian production house Every

that allowed one case to span two episodes and then to make sure there

Cloud Productions; Miss Fisher creators Fiona Eagger (chief executive/

was relevance in every detail. For instance, Miss S wears traditional Chinese

co-founder) and Deb Cox (creative director/co-founder) are creative

dress when she closes a case. Miss S, Jin says, is “not simply an adaptation”.

consultants on the Chinese adaptation. Miss S producer and head writer

The conversation to develop Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries for China

is Jin Weiyi, who has recreated the lead character in the spirit of China,

spanned about five years. “When the possibility first came up in 2014, we

@all3media_int retaining the charm of her Aussie counterpart and adjusting some of her ways without losing any of her cheekiness.

Some of lead character Miss Phryne Fisher’s activities have been toned down as she morphs into Miss S. Miss S will not, for instance, have quite



were culturally curious,” Cox says. “We didn’t really have any idea what working with China would be like,” she adds. With Phryne Fisher spirit, they dived in. “We thought, this is an adventure, let’s do it,” she says. Cox and Eagger say they had few fixed expectations about the China

05/08/2019 15:01

contentasia issue five, october 2019


Follow #ContentAsia #ContentAsiaSummit #weďŹ lteroutthenoise



Miss S is very smart, brilliant, beautiful and brave, and these are the characteristics that women should learn still in China. That’s why I decided to choose this TV show.” Rebecca Wu Xiao Vice General Manager, Shanghai 99 Visual Company

version before shooting started. What they didn’t necessarily expect was

Australia would travel,” Eagger says.

the scale of the production, including, among other elements, the loca-

In the end, they left it to Jin. “If we had tried to pre-empt the cultural

tions and the resources. “The Chinese version is much bigger and more

differences we would never have made the same decisions... He made

lavish than the Australian version... We were very envious when we visited,”

decisions from a much more informed position; he had some fantastic

Eagger says describing their experiences in China as “very educational

swaps,” says Cox.

for us to work out that there’s a universal language in how we all create drama and then work out what are the differences are,” Eagger says.

Eagger adds that Jin captured the tone perfectly. “There is a real respect that has been shown to the tone and to the core relationships

Production wise, Eagger and Cox experienced “a level of ambition in

that has travelled well culturally. “Our leading lady is a little more liber-

China” they did not, perhaps, expect. “It feels that they can do anything

ated than the Chinese version but in essence they still have a lot of the

really,” Cox adds.

same characteristics. The central romantic relationship is intact, which is

In Australia, the original series was filmed mostly on location. “We had to

to do with gentle flirting more than anything, and then the surrounding

find all the period locations and we were very restricted in our filming be-

ensemble of characters has very similar qualities. These have all been

cause obviously, with period, you have a modern building right next door

maintained,” she says.

and you do a lot with CGI, but we are more restricted,” Eagger says. In all,

The end result caps a search for a TV series that Shanghai 99 Visual Com-

the Australian crew was “probably a third” of the size of the Chinese crew.

pany launched in 2014. Vice general manager, Wu Xiao, says Miss Fisher’s

The Australian TV stories were also crafted based on what was physically

Murder Mysteries, set in Melbourne in the 1930s, was similar to Shanghai

possible to film, Cox says. “We have a handful of mansions in Australia,

at the time – an open city with a lot of foreigners. “We thought it would

some of which we shot the back of, the side of, every angle of,” she adds.

be easy to adapt into a Shanghai story. Also, audiences are attracted by

A small studio was built for Miss Fisher’s house and the police station. but

an independent woman. She’s very smart, brilliant, beautiful and brave

the rest was location-based. We could only think up stories when we knew

and these are the characteristics that women should learn still in China.

we could actually pull them off,” Cox says.

That’s why I decided to choose this TV show,” she says.

Miss S was filmed at Hengdian World Studios in Zhejiang. “The scale was

Both Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Miss S are distributed in Asia by

something we couldn’t imagine... We don’t have anything like that in

all3media International out of Singapore. Three seasons of the Australian

Australia. Now we just want to come to China and make something in

original is also available on Netflix. EVP for Asia Pacific, Sabrina Duguet,

that studio,” Eagger adds.

says the appeal of the show as a format involves the structure (one inves-

But that all came later. “In the early phases, when we sent the scripts over for formatting, we weren’t sure how much we should worry about cultural misfit,” Cox says.

tigation per episode with some story lines across the series) as well as the number of episodes/scrips available to choose from. Given China’s content sensitivities, a wide variety of story lines seems

The original series are based on books that Australian author Kerry

like a good idea. “Overall, this is a detective story. The genre itself is basi-

Greenwood started writing in 1985. “They were very culturally specific to

cally safe,” Wu says, adding: “That era – before the People’s Republic of

Melbourne. It was curious to see how something that felt so specific to

China – is pretty okay for a storyline like this”.


contentasia issue five, october 2019

Mark your calendar for TOKYO Mark your calendar for TOKYO TIFFCOM 2019 Oct.22 [Tue]- 24 [Thu] TIFFCOM 2018 MARKET RESULT *All data is from Japan Content Showcase 2018 Total Market Value $63,340,750 5% up! Total Business Meetings 8,201 5% up! Number of Countries & Regions Registered 54 Up! TIFFCOM Marketplace for Film & TV in Asia

Oct.22[Tue]- 24[Thu]

Walk-in registration will be available during Oct.21-24

TIFFCOM MARKET RESULT *All data is from Japan Content Showcase 2018 TIFFCOM Organizer’s Office 2018 (UNIJAPAN) Number of Countries & Regions Registered Total Market:Value email Total Business Meetings Details :




Walk-in registration will be available during Oct.21-24 TIFFCOM Organizer’s Office (UNIJAPAN) email : Details:


Follow the script Scripted formats are at an all time high in Asia as streaming/online platforms fast-track premium content output. Aqilah Yunus tracks leaders and laggards across the region. Despite tight regulations and censorship, China was Asia’s biggest buyer

India is not far behind, running second with 10 drama titles, making

for scripted formats in the first half of this year. ContentAsia’s Formats

up 38% of the country’s total formats. The drama formats on air or com-

Outlook research for the first half of 2019 shows China topping the drama

missioned in India in the first half of this year include Armoza Formats’

charts with 13 titles (57% of the country’s total 23 format acquisitions),

Hostages by indie production house Applause Entertainment for the Dis-

including all3media’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, BBC Studios’ Life on

ney-owned streaming platform Hotstar; BBC Studios’ The Office, also by

Mars, Endemol Shine Group’s Younger, Fuji TV’s The Hours of My Life and

Applause for Hotstar; and Keshet’s Baker and The Beauty, produced in

ITV’s Jekyll and Hyde.

Regional Regional

Cambodia Cambodia

Singing contest 33%

Game Show 34%

Reality 100%

Note: Regional formats were all but MIA in first half 2019. The two regional reality shows on our radar were Asia’s Got Talent for Sony Pictures’ AXN and No Sleep No Fomo for streaming platform Viu. Traditional regional pay-TV broadcasters have been pulling back on big-budget format production for a few years, and there’s more than a little scepticism over any kind of meaningful revival anytime soon. Viu is changing the regional game. In the second half of 2019, Viu greenlit Endemol Shine’s The Bridge season two by Malaysia’s Double Vision for Viu and HBO Asia, as well as an Indonesian version of Warner Bros’ Pretty Little Liars, which is backed by Viu in Malaysia and Indonesia, and will be available across 17 markets. The 10-episode The Bridge 2 will be released in 2020.

Reality 33%


China Factual 4% Entertainment 4%

Game show 9%

India India

Singing contest 12%

Reality 22%

Singing contest 4%

Drama 57%


Drama 38%

Reality 19%

Game Show 31%

contentasia issue five, october 2019


Drama 4% Entertainment 5%




Singing contest 27%

Reality 29%

Game Show 50%

Reality 14%

Drama 71%

South Korea Korea

Malaysia Malaysia

Reality 10%

Singing contest 20% Drama 40% Drama 90%

Reality 20%

A Thai version of SBS’ My Love From Another Star premiered on free-TV network Channel 3 at the end of September, upping Korea’s scripted format profile in the second half of 2019. The 16-episode series also streams live on the Channel 3 Thailand app, followed after midnight on Channel 3 owner BEC World’s OTT platform, Mello, for domestic viewers and on YouTube in Thai for international viewers only. Episodes stream on YouTube in Thailand as well as on Line TV 48 hours after the free-TV broadcast.




Singing contest 18%

Entertainment 20%


Adv enture Sports 9%

Singing contest 20%

Dance contest 10%

Entertainment 18%

Game Show 30% Reality 37%

Game Show 18%

contentasia issue five, october 20191H 2019. Data provided by formats rights holders Source: ContentAsia Formats Outlook

Reality 40%



Telugu by Annapurna Studios for PCCW Media’s streaming platform Viu

ma. In Malaysia, drama makes 40% of the country total of five formats.

India; and The Stylist in Hindi by Rose Audio Visuals with Goldie Behl as

Thailand and Vietnam tie for fifth place (three titles each) and h Indone-


sia and Philippines tied at the seventh place (one scripted title each).

Of the 14 countries included in our analysis for Mipcom 2019, Korea

Thailand was still Asia’s largest formats market by volume in the first half

takes the third spot with scripted making up 90% of the country’s formats

of 2019 compared to 2018. But, with a strong domestic drama tradition,

on air or commissioned. The other 10% went to reality formats.

the country has not taken to formats in the way other markets have.

Drama formats showed up in nine out of 14 countries in the first half

7% of Thailand’s total 45 formats were scripted. In Vietnam, drama titles

of this year. Countries with zero impact on the scripted formats scene

made up 8% of the total 37 formats. Our latest data shows a decline in

are Cambodia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, all of which are at

the number of formats on air/commissioned from 285 titles in 2017 to 224

the lowest end of drama spend in the region. Singapore, another small

titles in 2019.



but wealthy market which punches above its weight in drama, is also focused on co-development of original drama rather than adaptations. Regional participation in the scripted space rises in the second half of this year with the entry of PCCW Media’s Viu streaming platforms on titles such as The Bridge and Pretty Little Liars. Out of Japan’s seven formats sold around the region, 71% were dra-


Variety 2%

Singing contest 15%

Drama 7%

Entertainment 9% Adv enture Sports 2%


Singing contest 20%

Dance contest 10% Drama 10%

Game Show 27%

Reality 36%

Reality 20%

Dance contest 2%

Game Show 40%

Singapore Singapore



Drama 8%

Entertainment 5% Factual 3%

Singing contest 24%

Reality 19%

Factual 33%

Reality 67%

Game Show 41%

A full analysis of the top formats trends and influences in each Asian country will be published in ContentAsia at the Asia TV Forum (ATF) in Singapore in December. Source: ContentAsia Formats Outlook 1H 2019. Data provided by formats rights holders


For information, please contact Aqilah at contentasia issue five, october 2019

apos | tech Powering Asia’s Digital Ecosystem November 19-21, 2019 | Bali, Indonesia

Powering Asia’s Digital Ecosystem

As faster, cheaper broadband lays the foundation for transformational change across Asia, APOStech highlights the key drivers and November 19-21,2019 2019 | Bali, Indonesia market opportunities that can unlock value, anchored to product execution, partnerships, network investment and M&A. Key themes:

As faster, cheaper broadband lays the foundation for transformational change across Super Apps And Asia, APOStech 2019 highlights the key drivers and Digital Ecosystems that can unlock value, anchored to product execution, market opportunities partnerships, network investment and M&A. Key themes: The Changing Landscape For Investors

Online Gaming Spreads Its Wings Scaling Video In A Broadband World

The Changing Super Apps And Data Transforms Video Landscape Digital Ecosystems Business Models For Investors

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New Content Realities: VR, AR & MR

Telcos Take On New Roles The New Frontiers Of Advertising

Data Transforms Video Telcos Take Business On New Roles NewModels Content Realities: VR, AR & MR

Join strategic decision-makers, investors and entrepreneurs from across Asia’s digital economy at APOStech, Asia’s premier event showcasing the trends and innovation redening telecoms, media and internet ecosystems. strategic decision-makers, investors and entrepreneurs from across Asia’s digital

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Delegate Registration is now open. For more information or to register, please visit


Formats in Asia: up, down or moving sideways 1H2019



% change




% change























































South Korea






















































Sri Lanka












































Source: ContentAsia Formats Outlook 1H 2019. Data provided by formats rights holders


contentasia issue five, october 2019

2atf Asia TV Forum & Market In association with miptv and mipcom Asia’s entertainment content market If it’s Asia, it’s ATF Marina Bay Sands | Singapore 3 Dec 2019 ATF Leaders’ Summit 4-6 Dec 2019 Market. Conference. Network Events Phase 2 passes on sale till 31 Oct Join now! Register at

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Held in conjunction with:

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Produced by:

Register at

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ContentAsia’s Formats Leaderboard Fremantle 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44.

Asia’s Got Talent S3 Cambodian Idol S4 Cambodia’s Got Talent S3 Cambodia’s Got Talent S4 The Chart China Confetti India Distraction Bengali India Don’t Stop Me Now China S8 Family Feud Cambodia S1 Family Feud Indonesia S21 Family Feud Indonesia S22 Family Feud Indonesia S23 Family Feud Myanmar S7 Family Feud Myanmar S8 Family Feud Thailand S4 Hear Me, Love Me, See Me Indonesia S1 Heaven Or Hell Cambodia S1 Hot Streak Indonesia S1 Indian Idol Indonesian Idol S10 Killer Karaoke Indonesia S1 Killer Karaoke Indonesia S2 Let’s Make A Deal Indonesia S2 Let’s Make A Deal Indonesia S3 Let’s Make A Deal Indonesia S4 Let’s Make A Deal Indonesia S5 The Lie Detective China Man O Man Vietnam S2 My Mum Cooks Better Than Yours Vietnam S4 Myanmar Idol S4 Myanmar X Factor Myanmar’s Got Talent S6 Philippines Got Talent S7 (Pilipinas Got Talent) Philippines Idol S1 (Search for the Idol) Price Is Right Cambodia S1 Price Is Right Thailand S5 Price Is Right Thailand S6 Price Is Right Vietnam S14 Take Me Out Indonesia S1 Take Me Out Thailand S14 Take Me Out Thailand S15 World’s Got Talent China X Factor Cambodia S1 X Factor Cambodia S2

Endemol Shine 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

The Band Rules Vietnam S3 Big Brother Hindi S13 Big Brother Kannada S7 Big Brother Marathi S2 Big Brother Philippines S8 Big Brother Tamil India S3 Big Brother Telugu India S3 The Brain Vietnam Broadchurch China Face Men Thailand S3, The Face Thailand S4, The Face Vietnam S4, The Family Food Fight China Fear Factor India S10 Fear Factor India S11 Humans China S1 Masterchef All Stars S1 MasterChef Cambodia S1

MasterChef Cambodia S2 MasterChef Indonesia S5 MasterChef Junior Thailand S3 MasterChef Myanmar S2 MasterChef Thailand S3

24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38.

Million Dollar Minute Vietnam S4 Million Dollar Minute Vietnam S5 Minute To Win It Kannada India S4 Minute To Win It Philippines S4 Money Drop Myanmar S3 Odd One In Vietnam S6 Puzzle Masters China S2 Spelling Star Mongolia S1 Spelling Star Mongolia S2 The Money Drop Thailand S3 The Wall Thailand S1 The Wall Vietnam Younger China Younger South Korea S1 Your Face Sounds Familiar Mongolia S4 39. Your Face Sounds Familiar Thailand S4 40. Your Face Sounds Familiar Vietnam S7

Talpa 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

5 Gold Rings Thailand 5 Gold Rings Vietnam Divided Thailand Divided Vietnam Human Knowledge Thailand It Takes 2 Vietnam S3 Next Boy/Girl Band Vietnam The Voice Cambodia S3 The Voice India S3 The Voice Indonesia S3 The Voice Indonesia S4 The Voice Kids Indonesia S4 The Voice Kids Philippines S4 The Voice Kids Thailand S6 The Voice Kids Thailand S7 The Voice Kids Vietnam S7 The Voice Kids Vietnam S8 The Voice Mongolia S2 The Voice Myanmar S2 The Voice Senior Thailand The Voice Senior Thailand S2 The Voice Thailand S7 The Voice Vietnam S6 The Voice Vietnam S7 The Wishing Tree Vietnam

NBCUniversal 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Hollywood Game Night Thailand S4 Hollywood Game Night Thailand S5 Real Housewives Of Bangkok Saturday Night Live China Singer Auction Vietnam Still Standing Mongolia Still Standing Thailand S7 Still Standing Vietnam S2 Top Chef Just Desserts Thailand S1 Top Chef Thailand S2 Top Chef Thailand S3 Top Chef Vietnam S2 Who Is the Real Celebrity Vietnam World Of Dance Philippines World Of Dance Thailand S2

Fuji TV 1. 2. 3. 4.

1 Litre of Tears Korea Confidence Man China Confidence Man Korea Desperate Motherhood China

5. 6. 7.

First Class China Ghostwriter China Hirugao—Love Affairs in the Afternoon Korea 8. The Hours of My Life China 9. Legal High Korea 10. Matrimonial Chaos China 11. The Next Iron Chef Thailand 12. Second to Last Love China

Keshet 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

Baker and the Beauty India Boom! Philippines S2 Boom! Philippines S3 Boom! Vietnam Deep Crime Unit Japan False Flag India Master Class Vietnam Masters Of Dance Vietnam Rising Star India S3 Rising Star Sri Lanka S2 Stylist India, The

BBC Studios 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Criminal Justice India Dancing w/the Stars Myanmar Doctor Foster Korea The Great Bake Off Thailand Life on Mars China Luther India Luther Korea Mistresses Japan The Office India Stupid Man, Smart Phone Singapore

CJ ENM 1. 2.

Crazy Market Vietnam I Can See Your Voice Thailand S4 3. Let Me In Thailand S4 4. Love at First Song Korea 5. Love at First Song Malaysia 6. Oh My Ghost India 7. Shadow Singer Indonesia 8. Tunnel Thailand 9. Voice Japan 10. Voice Thailand

KBS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Descendants of the Sun Philippines Immortal Songs - Singing the Legend Vietnam Live or Die Vietnam My One and Only Vietnam Rebirth Vietnam Singing Battle Indonesia S2

All3media 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Catch Me Out Thailand Face the clock Vietnam Liar India Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries China Sexy Beasts Vietnam

Bomanbridge 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Chef In Your Ear Mongolia S4 DNA India S8 DNA India S9 DNA Mongolia S1 Doctors VS Internet Mongolia

Warner Bros 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The Bachelor Japan S3 The Bachelor Vietnam S2 The Bachelorette Japan S1 The Fugitive Japan Pretty Little Liars Indonesia

Nippon TV 1. 2. 3. 4.

Abandoned Thailand Block Out Thailand Old Enough! Singapore Old Enough! Singapore S2

TV Asahi 1. 2. 3. 4.

31 Legged Race Thailand S14 Beat The Champions Mongolia S1 dele Korea Sweet Kiss Bitter Kiss China

MBC 1. 2. 3.

Mask Singer Indonesia S4 Mask Singer Line Thailand Ranking Show 123 Thailand

Red Arrow 1. 2. 3.

TBS 1. 2. 3.

Anti Social Network India My Man Can Cambodia You Deserve It Vietnam S7 Rush 4 Win Philippines Sasuke Vietnam S5 Takeshi’s Castle Indonesia S3

Armoza 1. 2.

Hostages India La Famiglia India

CBS Studios International 1. 2.

Entertainment Tonight Thailand S2 The Good Wife Japan S1

Dori Media 1. 2.

The Best Of All Thailand S2 It Girls Myanmar

ITV Studios 1. 2.

Dress To Impress Mongolia Jekyll & Hyde China

Sony Pictures Television 1. 2.

Shark Tank Mongolia S2 Shark Tank Thailand S1


Say Yes To The Dress China

Entertainment One

Designated Survivor: 60 Days Korea

Fox Networks Group Heartbeat Malaysia


Hot Ones Malaysia


Puteri Yang Ditukar Malaysia


Document 72 Hours China

Thai Broadcasting Company Mikrofon Impian Malaysia

The Story Lab

No Sleep No FOMO


Lip Sync Battle Thailand S2

Source: Distributors/rights holders, broadcasters, ContentAsia Notes: data updated as of 31 July 2019. Titles were on air or premiered in 2019, or were commissioned for broadcast in 2019/20 in Asia. Does not include: re-runs, format options, and shows created by broadcasters/production houses/sponsors for one channel but have not been sold as a format to anyone else. All distributors and formats rights holders were given equal opportunity to participate. For information/feedback, please contact


contentasia issue five, october 2019


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+ market dailies


New prime-time drama series from Channel 3 Thailand











content asia cover-extra 10 mm.pdf


Creator of Love Destiny and Thong Ek - The Herbal Master


Drama in Asia: Trends & influences


Formats: what & where

Talking to: Star India’s Gaurav Banerjee, Mediacorp’s Loke Kheng Tham, iflix’s Mark Francis, plus others

New prime-time drama series from Channel 3 Thailand Creator of Love Destiny and Thong Ek - The Herbal Master























ContentAsia issue five 2019



hannel drama series New New 3 prime-time from New prime-time Thailand Channel drama prime-time series drama from 3 series Thailand Channel drama from 3 Thailand Channel series 3 Thailand from Channel 3 Thailand

Nadech Kugimiya & PeraneeStarring Kongthai

he e Destiny Herbal and Thong Creator Master Creator Ek of Love -Creator of The Destiny Love Herbal and Destiny Thong of Love Ekand Master - TheThong Destiny Herbal Master Ek - The and Herbal Thong Master Ek - The Herbal Master





MIPCOM Stand P-1.C64

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Starring Starring Starring

Nadech Kugimiya Nadech Kugimiya Nadech Kugimiya & Peranee Kongthai & Peranee&Kongthai Peranee Kongthai

ContMIPCOM act: worldwiStand de@jkP-1.


Nadech Kugimiya & Peranee Kongthai


Nadech Kugimiya & Peranee Kongthai

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Putting your brand & products in front of more buyers & decision makers in 22 Asia-Pacific markets. ContentAsia reaches 11,000+ executives in Asia across all platforms with a clear editorial focus on Asia, market developments, trends, influences & information Starring New prime-time drama series from Channel 3 Thailand that makes a difference. Creator of Love Destiny and Thong Ek - The Herbal Master

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ContentAsia Issue Five 2019  

ContentAsia's October 2019 issue looks at everything from drama production budgets in Asia; top-of-mind talent challenges as Southeast Asia'...

ContentAsia Issue Five 2019  

ContentAsia's October 2019 issue looks at everything from drama production budgets in Asia; top-of-mind talent challenges as Southeast Asia'...

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