__MAIN_TEXT__

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NOVEMBER 2020

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Taiwan: A New Story

INdepth: Daphne Yang, George Chien, Dennis Yang, Tony Qiu

Daphne Yang Catchplay Group


TV5MONDE INFO TV5MONDE VOD TiVi5+ TV5MONDE PACIFIQUE TV5MONDE The best of French TV available in more than 120 million homes in Asia Pacific apac.tv5monde.com


editor’snote

Hot is as Hotstar does Disney’s streaming app Hotstar went live in Singapore in early Novem-

where consumers can get all their apps. Like Jio, in India, which today

ber with a breathtakingly simple mobile OTP-based sign-on (no pwd re-

is offering 12 apps (Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Zee5, SonyLiv,

quired), a social-media-based helpline chat in case you need it (which

etc). Or StarHub, which now offers seven apps. The thinking is that con-

I didn’t, but no harm testing and finding out that the response time is

sumers don’t want to – and won’t – subscribe to individual services scat-

less than five minutes) and eight languages – seven Indian and English

tered all over the place. And maybe that’s true.

– plus a robust slate of Indian drama, ranging from adaptations of inter-

Except here’s where it could all go horribly wrong. How many subscrip-

national scripted series such as BBC Studios’ Out of Love (Doctor Foster),

tion video platform/telcos can execute customer service for a Netflix-in-

to long-running mythological series Jai Hanuman, even-longer-running

fused generation? Pay-TV operators and telcos tried. And it was hard, and

Hindi soap Mere Angne Mein and short-form horror series Shockers. Plus

too many messed up. Add legacy tech, legacy content deals not neces-

thousands of hours of Tamil content. And cricket. Of course. The finals

sarily structured for local industry growth, etc... And then along came Net-

of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) were offered free to anyone

flix. Being consumer-obsessed is still hard, but Netflix can

with the app; seven days in, Disney announced the acquisition of the

and everything else sounds like a pathetic excuse.

India Tour of Australia, which starts at end Nov, as well as rights to next

If you were a shiny new streaming app, would

year’s IPL. If you subscribe to StarHub’s India pack, you get Hotstar for

you want your relationship with your users to be

free. Or you can access the app directly for S$69.98/US$52 a year (paid

put into the pay-TV customer care dead zone?

up front, no refund) in Disney’s first experiences with direct-to-consumer

Would you take the risk of adding yet another sor-

streaming in Singapore. ie. The Future.

ry story to the noxious crust of consumer neglect

The Singapore service and strategy is very different to Indonesia,

that has for years helped erode the links in the

where a tailor-made product – Disney+ Hotstar – rolled out in early Sept

value chain? Maybe not. Unless you have no

with a US$37-million (our estimate) slate of local rights, including direct-

choice. But consumers do have the choice.

to-streaming theatrical titles, a relationship with telco Telkomsel for

I don’t know how this plays out. The idea

Rp199,000/US$14 a year (with data bundles that could bring the price

of an aggregator is great. But I would rather

down to US$1 a month) or direct for US$2.77 a month. ie. The Future.

poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick

The strategy for Disney apps (either Disney+ Hotstar, Disney+ or Hot-

than put myself back into the traditional

star) will be adjusted for each market, with distribution/billing partners

hotline environment I have come to know

where necessary and practical, customised content, and control over

and hate. What I do know is that a lot of

its own customer care. Across every market, Disney is playing hardball

programmers – including live/linear chan-

with who controls what, and there are no prizes for guessing how the

nels – have great offerings for a curated

conversations close. The apps are either standalone... or nothing, which

video environment. They don’t need

means you won’t find them ingested into any other user interface.

their own hotlines and shouldn’t have

And here’s where future of the new subscription universe in Asia

to worry that viewers are being driven

gets more difficult to predict with any certainty. Disney can, given the

away. So, for their sakes, I’m looking to

strength of its content, the size of its purse and the will of its leadership,

the fairies and making some wishes for

stand alone. Others, not so much. Traditional pay-TV platforms are the

2021: world peace, the end of Covid, and cus-

natural choice as future super-aggregators, a one-stop environment

tomer-centric service.

Editorial Director Janine Stein Assistant Editor Malena Amzah malena@contentasia.tv Research & Production CJ Yong cj@contentasia.tv Design Rae Yong

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

What is ContentAsia?

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 Pencil Media Pte Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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coming soon www.contentasia.tv contentasia


contents...

what’s inside... Hong Kong: what’s ahead

AXN All-Stars

KC Global Media Entertainmentis part of a rising breed of indie live curated channels operators in Asia. Six months after buying Sony Pictures Television’s business across much the region, president and chief executive, George Chien, talks about the business and where to next.

Hong Kong’s entertainment and media digital segments – including streaming video, games, music, radio, podcasts – are thriving through Covid-19. That’s PwC’s most optimistic observation, laid out in its new Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024.

6

Tony Qiu, SVP & GM – East & Southeast Asia, Discovery

Live action

The joint content initiative with Alibaba/ Youku and Shanghai Media Group is an ecosystem play, an ecosystem that consists of long-form series and also mobile short-form, live shows probably and instant clicks and buys via e-commerce, offline events, and IP derivatives on multiple screens in multiple territories at a global scale as well.” Tony Qiu, Discovery

page 16

Taiwan play book

Into the wild

8

Discovery has ramped up content creation in China and Korea in partnerships and funding alliances with the Shanghai Media Group, Alibaba/Youku and KT. Is it enough to reclaim the global network’s standing in Asia’s video entertainment environment? Head of East/SE Asia, Tony Qiu, talks about what’s ahead...

12

George Chien, President / CEO, KC Global Media The World Between Us, HBO Asia / Catchplay

Asian streaming platform Catchplay has unveiled a Taipeibased production subsidiary, Screenworks Asia, with six projects in development from the get go and plans to produce 100 hours a year of mini-series, movies and factual entertainment for audiences across Asia and the rest of the world. CEO Daphne Yang talks about the company’s evolution, development and direction.

18

Daphne Yang CEO, Catchplay

Find the gap, please

Taiwan has good production, but we don’t know how to sell outside Chinese markets.”

Dennis Yang, CEO and managing partner of Taipeibased Studio76 Original Productions, talks about finding stories and directors with unique visual styles, experimenting with genres and formats, and Taiwan’s advantages and challenges as a content centre.

22

contentasia november 2020

Dennis Yang, Studio76 Original Productions

page 22 Fly The Jumper, Studio76 Original Productions

5


analysis

Hong Kong: what’s ahead Hong Kong’s entertainment and media digital segments – including streaming video, games, music, radio, podcasts – are thriving through Covid-19. That’s PwC’s most optimistic observation, laid out in its new Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024. Overview: Entertainment & Media Outlook – Global and Hong Kong

Like many places, some of Hong Kong’s entertainment and media segOTTvideo video maintains rapid growth at 10.2%, with Mainland OTT maintains rapid growth at 10.2%, ments – including streaming video, games, music, radio, podcasts – are with Mainland China at 12.2% by 2024 China at 12.2% by 2024 thriving through Covid-19. Others not so much. In its latest Global Enter-

Segment CAGR 2020-2024 Segment CAGR 2020 - 2024

media industry has been “deeply impacted” by the pandemic. Revenue • Resilient segments are those will be down 11.8% leveraging digitalbetween platforms,2019 as and 2020 – a bigger margin compared evident for Hong Kong, Mainland to other parts of the world. Like everywhere, streaming video consump37.4% 26.7% China and global - OTT video, tion has by more mobile video consumption and supportvideosoared, games driven and Internet 19.89% 13.2% advertising. ed by HD content Segment Segment dive: deep OTT video dive: OTT video and better user experience, PwC says. 15.3% deep

OTT video Internet advertising Video games and esports Cinema Out-of-home advertising

10.58% 10.4% 9.24%10.4% 6.7% 8.0% 13.88% 3.5% 1.8% 2.90% 1.2% 2.3% 0.4% 5.2%

Music, radio and podcasts

TV advertising

-4.22%

Traditional TV and home video

-2.53% -1.3% -0.65%

Newspaper and consumer magazine

-10% -5%

• OTT video growth in Mainland China is faster than Global and Hong Kong

OTTOTT videovideo revenue revenue in Hong in Hong Kong Kong will incre will OTT video revenue in Hong Kong will increase at a 10% CAGR from into 2020 to fromfrom US$254mn US$254mn in 2020 inUS$254mn 2020 to US$373mn US$373m in

Business-to-business

Books

tainment & Media Outlook, PwC says the territory’s entertainment and

10.4% 12.2% 10.06% 6.6% 7.7% 3.46% 6.0% 5.5% 6.23%

0%

China Hong Kong

OTT videorevenue segment revenue 2015-2024: APAC Hong KongKong OTT video OTT segment video segment revenue 2015-2024: 2015-2024: APAC vs.APAC Hongvs. vs. Kong Hong

0.2%

Segment deep dive: OTT video Note: 2019 is the latest available data. 2020-2024 values are forecast projections

• Global entertainment and media revenue will rise at a 2.8% CAGR from 2020-2024 US$2.45trn US$373mn in at2024

Global

5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 2020-2024 CAGR

Source: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019-2024, www.pwc.com/outlook

OTT revenue 2015 – 2024 and 2020-2024 CAGR: Hong Kong 700 500

-2.5%

400 300 200

+10%

100 0

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

OTT

2021

2022

2023

2024

2.7

31.9

30 25 19.6 19.6 20 15.0 15.0 • 15 OTT video in Hong Kong will see significant growth of 10% CAGR 10 2.7 to 2024, with expected from 5 2020 revenue of US$373mn by 2024. -

400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0

2015 2019 2024 2015 2019 2024 shift • This2020 is driven by2020 behaviour

373 373 400 350 300 254 254 250 209 209 200 150 49 100 49 50 0 2015 2019 2020 2015 2024 2019 2020 2024 Hong KongHong Kong

APAC APAC preference to around consumer

access content at anytime and anywhere) and over 80% penetration rate. Segment deep dive: OTT video Increasing • Increasing broadband broadband speeds and speeds penetration and penetration are fuelling arethe fuelling growing thedemand growing for demand OTT

Traditional TV, video

New trend

Note: 2019 is the latest available data, 2020-2024 values are forecast projections Source: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019-2024

Revenue $mn USD

600

14

Revenue $mn USD

OTT revenue 2015-2024 and 2020-2024 CAGR: Hong Kong

30 25 20 15 10 5 -

Revenue $bn USD

Revenue $bn USD

Global E&M Outlook 2020-2024: Hong Kong summary

Revenue $mn USD

OTT toto bypass traditional TV and OTTvideo video bypass traditional TV video and video by 2024 31.9 by 2024 reaching US$373mn reaching US$373mn 35 35

Hong Kong SVOD revenue will overtake box Mainland China podcast revenue reached • Homegrown • Homegrown player ViuTV player increased ViuTV increased its strategy in strategy 2019 ininresponse 2019overtake in response to movesbox to bymoves Netflix Hong Kong SVOD revenue will offib Mainland China podcast revenue reached US$193mn in 2019 andits office spend in 2020 to hit US$231mn in 2020 Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific. US$193mn in 2019 and is the second largest • Hong Kong traditional TV and video will see 2020 to hit US$231 mn in 2020 largest market in the world by 2024 ais dropthe of -2.5%second CAGR from 2020-2024, • 5G will hasten existing trends toward Hong Kong SVOD vs box office revenue, 2015-2024 (US$mn) 2020-24 CAGR market in the world by 2024 while Asia Pacific will have a flat growth . personalisation• andTVB’s enable more consumption •own TVB’s OTTown service, OTTmyTV service, SUPER, myTV continues SUPER, continues to grow with to grow weekly withtime weekly spent time watch spe • Hong Kong OTT video segments will experience significant growth of US$119 million from 2020 to 2024.

• OTT video will grow at +10 CAGR, which is slightly lower than Asia Pacific +13% CAGR. Hong Kong OTT will bypass traditional TV and video by 2024.

Revenue (US$bn)

600

Revenue US$mn

200

400

2,000 1,500 1,000 500

Revenue US$mn

800

Hong Kong SVOD vs box office revenue, 2015-2024 (US$mn) 2020-24 CAGR and higher quality video entertainment on SVOD s exceeding 20mn man-hours 20mn man-hours at the endatofthe June end2019. of June The2019. service Thehad service turned had profitable turned p mobile devices. Podcasts revenue USvsvsMainland Mainland China CAGR) Podcasts revenue 2015-2024: 2015-2024: US China (2020(2020-24 – exceeding 2024 CAGR) 400 • COVID 10.5% during 2018. during 2018. Note: 2019 is the latest available data. 2020-2024 values are forecast projections Source: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019-2024, www.pwc.com/outlook platfor 350 SVOD to overtake box • Smartphone usage and smart speakers Global E&M Outlook 2020-2024: Hong Kong summary 23 office revenue in 2020 are driving 300consumption of podcasts. • In 201 689available Note: 2019 is the latest Note: 2019 is the data. latest 2020-2024 availablevalues data. 2020-2024 are forecastvalues projections are forecast projections was 7 250 • Chinese revenue reached Source: PwC Global Source: Entertainment PwC Global & Media Entertainment Outlook 2019-2024, &podcast Media Outlook www.pwc.com/outlook 2019-2024, www.pwc.com/outlook SVOD 1,673 19.9% US$193mn in 2019. On the back of US$ 2 Global E&M Outlook Global 2020-2024: E&M Outlook Hong2020-2024: Kong summary Hong Kong summary 200 expanding listener numbers, revenue is set to rise strongly at a 37.3% CAGR from 150 • Box o 2020 to 20204 to total US$689mn in 2024. see a 100 764 708 will no 193 • Mainland China will remain as the fastest 194 levels 50 growing player in the podcast market. 106

0

0

0

15

2015

2015

2019

2019

2020

2020

2024

2024

Note: 2019 is the latest available data. 2020-2024 values are forecast projections

2015

2019

2020

Mainland China

2024

• Mainland China’s 2015leading 2016platform 2017 is2018 2019 Ximalaya FM, which has a 50%-plus podcast market share. In 2016, it also Subscription VOD revenue began moving heavily into paid-for professional content. Note: 2019 is the latest available data. 2020-2024 values are forecast projections

Source: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2019-2024, www.pwc.com/outlook

Source: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024, www.pwc.com/outlook

Global E&M Outlook 2020-2024: Hong Kong summary

Global E&M Outlook 2020-2024: Hong Kong summary

6

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

Box office revenue

34

contentasia november 2020


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productioninterview

Live action KC Global Media Entertainment is part of a rising breed of indie live curated channels operators in Asia. Six months after buying Sony Pictures Television’s business across much of Asia, co-founder, president and chief executive, George Chien, talks about the business and where to next. Backstreet Rookie, KC Global Media

AXN All-Stars is something of a coming-out party for one of Asia’s oldest

Indonesia, Taiwan, Philippines,

live video channel brands, officially under new management since May

Singapore and Japan – and

this year. The special goes live on Saturday, 28 November, with a mix of

hosts from Indonesia, Singapore,

celebrities from shows such as Asia’s Got Talent, The Elements: Cosentino

the Philippines and the U.S.

and Cyril: Simply Magic, and a slew of new hosts and performers. AXN All-Stars demonstrates a few things: ongoing pulling power some

AXN All-Stars comes six months after KC Global Media took over most of

George Chien, President & CEO, KC Global Media

thought AXN may no longer have after Sony Pictures Television sold to

Sony Pictures Television’s networks business

indie outfit KC Global Media Entertainment; the ability to attract title

across Southeast Asia, Korea, China, Australia/New

sponsors for original production; the will to even do original production in

Zealand and South Asia (excluding India).

a wickedly shrivelled regional channels environment where most others

The sale, involving four channel brands (AXN, Animax, ONE and Japa-

have fallen back; the EQ to tap into a desperate need for hope and op-

nese channel Gem) was followed up in July with the acquisition of a

timism at the end of a hideous year, sidestepping most of the nauseating

bundle of Korean drama rights for Indonesia from Korean broadcaster

platitudes of companies hijacking real sentiment.

SBS, which wanted out of its own Indonesia channel. The new arrange-

While KC Global Media said from the start that original production was

ment expanded ONE’s footprint in Indonesia.

part of its playbook, no-one would have held them to it through a year

“When we bought this, our focus was really on how we were going

of upended plans and vanishing advertising support. And so, it turns out,

to make this company more efficient,” says co-founder, president and

no one needed to...

CEO, George Chien, who, along with KC Global Media’s Andy Kaplan,

AXN All-Stars goes live on AXN Asia’s Facebook and YouTube channels, with appearances by Afgan, Anggun, Cosentino, Cyril Takayama, David Foster, Michael Bolton and Mel C, guest performers from five countries – 8

was a fixture in Sony Pictures Television Networks Asia for almost two decades. “We felt like there was unfinished business there,” he adds. “We don’t believe that linear TV is dead. We do see that there are contentasia november 2020


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Afgan

Michael Bolton

productioninterview

David Foster

Anggun

tremendous headwinds. There are obviously a lot of linear channels go-

The expansion of ONE in Indonesia two months after the sale closed

ing away, but there’s definitely a marketplace for this. We saw a brilliant

was a happy opportunity rather than part of the original strategy. ONE, a

opportunity with the strong brands. It wasn’t an oversized portfolio. We

part of Sony’s original bundle in Indonesia, rolled out a separate Indone-

didn’t feel like we had a lot of fat that was sitting there,” Chien says.

sia feed a few years ago when Korean broadcaster SBS pulled its rights

That was before Covid-19. “Externally and internally, there were going

back so that it could launch its own Indonesia channel. A change of

to be challenges when we took this business over, but with Covid, every-

heart at SBS meant rights became available again and KC Global Me-

body’s dealing with the same thing... it made it that much easier to have

dia was able to step back in. The new era kicked off with first-run rights

the various conversations. We had to be innovative, smart, efficient.”

to Backstreet Rookie, an SBS title sold by A+E Networks outside of Korea.

“If anything, Covid accelerated the mindset changes that were re-

Today, ONE in Indonesia is again part of ONE’s regional play, with,

quired for us to be successful,” Chien adds. “I think... we’re getting to the

of course, its own language feed. “We’re going to do what’s right and

place we wanted to be in maybe three to six months earlier than we had

what’s necessary for ONE to continue to be a powerful linear channel,”

initially anticipated.”

Chien says.

At the same time, he acknowledges the challenges. “Do we still see

While the output deal with SBS remains in place, Chien says Korea’s

there are tremendous headwinds? Do we still have adjustments that

production environment today is “very different” to what it was when

need to be made? Absolutely,” he says.

the original ONE agreement was sealed. “We need to pause and under-

KC Global Media sees the linear/live channels environment playing out differently market by market in Asia. “Some markets are going to fade a lot faster and face a lot stronger headwinds,” he says. Like, for instance, Singapore, and others with high

stand the dynamics,” he adds. “The output deal is still the same, but the dynamic behind the output deal has differed. So that’s what makes it a little bit more challenging, but we’re still going to deliver.” What about content supply from Sony? “Some of our best-rated shows

broadband penetration and a taste for VOD/SVOD services. Advertising

come from Sony,” Chien says, mentioning Lincoln Rhyme, Black List, LA’s

support for linear services in Taiwan, however, remains “pretty strong”.

Finest and acknowledging, along with everyone else, content and price

10

contentasia november 2020


Cosentino

Cyril Takayama

Mel C

AXN All-Stars celebrities

rationalisation. Everyone, he says, is “open to dialogue... They understand the market. They understand what’s happening here. They understand the changes that are happening... there’s an abundance of supply, especially for the linear pay-TV space. There’s not many of us still standing.”

also looking at scripted, both long-form and short-form” across platforms, including social media and drawing on in-house creative talent, he says. Podcasts could also be part of the mix eventually. Whatever is added to AXN’s line up, the channel will continue to be action oriented. “The brand has been in the market for two-plus de-

The big-budget original productions of old, led by The Amazing Race

cades,” Chien says. “The formula works. We have a core audience and

Asia and Asia’s Got Talent, are not coming back anytime soon. At least

operators who want the channel. We’ve always been known as an ac-

not to KC Global Media. Chien says the competitions shows are still on his

tion-adventure adrenaline-filled brand, and we are not going to stray

agenda. “The question is when.”

too far away from that”.

“We love those regional bigger productions and IP formats, but it’s

KC Global Media also took over Japanese channel Gem, launched

really really challenging to do those,” he says. Covid/travel restrictions/

across Asia in October 2015 with a focus on high-profile Japanese dra-

production protocols/social distancing make it even more difficult, never

mas, such as Death Note and Angel Heart, and eight carriage deals

mind the sponsorship challenges and “finding the right revenue model to

in four markets. The channel was a joint venture with Nippon TV, which

go along with these big budgeted regional OPs”.

decided not to continue the venture after the channels were sold. Chien

KC Global Media has no immediate plans to join the production rush in Indonesia. Chien says the Singapore-based regional network may not

says Gem will continue to carry Nippon TV content, along with other Japanese content rights holders.

have the expertise – yet – to pull off originals in Indonesia. But never say

Whatever happens next, Chien, like other indie channel operators in

never. “Should we see the opportunity and think we could pull it off. We

the space, believes “there is a place for linear TV. Is it going to shrink?

will absolutely go for it”.

The answer is yes. Are the streamers going to have a place in the living

As evidenced by AXN All-Stars, Chien remains committed to production. “We have a lot in the pipeline, and not only non-scripted. We’re

room? Absolutely. At the end of the day, it’s about who is relevant. With the strength of our brands, we believe we’re going to be relevant”. 11


interview

It Takes a Village, Studio Discovery Korea

Into the wild Discovery has ramped up content creation in China and Korea in a series of partnerships and funding alliances with the Shanghai Media Group, Alibaba/Youku and Korea’s KT. Is it enough for the global network to reclaim its standing in Asia’s future video entertainment environment? The network’s newly appointed head of East/SE Asia, Tony Qiu, talks about the JV studio in Seoul, plans in China, and the region’s participation in the evolution from a factual channels business into an end-to-end content hub. Over the last seven years, Discovery in Asia has taken a leadership

the U.S. network’s long history in the region. Qiu, promoted in Septem-

position for whiplash management changes, with more bosses than in

ber this year to SVP and GM – East & Southeast Asia and head of global

the previous 18 years since its 1994 launch; shrivelling linear prospects,

location based entertainment business, is one of three Asia heads now

shrinking affiliate revenue and guesses that annual profit is nowhere

reporting into Asia-Pacific president, Simon Robinson, in the U.S. The

near the US$150 million of days gone by; streaming platforms up and

other two are Megha Tata for India/South Asia and David McDonald

running in Japan and India, and coming to the rest of Asia, but with no

for Japan.

official timetable as of early November and some doubts about its ability to drive a direct-to-consumer business in Asia...

Announcing the latest reorg in September, Robinson said consolidating Discovery’s East and Southeast Asia roles was a simple one, de-

Meanwhile, original production is led by China, with recent shows like

signed to “prioritise simplicity and speed of decision making, new digi-

First Man Out season two, and India, where a few solid performers like

tal capabilities, and efficiencies that will enable further investment in

Into the Wild with Bear Grylls and Akshay Kumar have replaced the

our two most important priorities: content & products”.

overblown, inflated, unrealistic and ultimately unachievable ambitions

The new structure runs alongside a freshly minted US$40 million-US$50

of Discovery’s previous India plan. Southeast Asia, once the home of

million partnership with Alibaba/Youku and Shanghai Media Group

landmark shows like Tim Lambert’s The History of Singapore (2005) and

(SMG) in mainland China to build a food-related ecosystem, as well as

the hub that gave rise to Man Made Marvels Asia, has pretty much

the launch on 1 September of Discovery’s joint venture channel with

dropped off the originals map.

KT in Korea. Qiu, who joined Discovery in 2018, drove both. What’s the

Enter Tony Qiu, part of a new team charged with the next phase of

12

plan now, we asked...

contentasia november 2020


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interview

Discovery Channel Korea Survival Bible, Discovery Channel Korea

What’s the plan for Korea? “Discovery has been in Korea for a long time...

What level of output are you looking for from Studio Discovery Korea?

the most obvious change over the years has been Korean content,

“At this stage, we are looking at over 100 hours a year. In addition, we

which travels really well and is widely accepted across Asia. Over the last

have locked down co-production contracts with other local platforms

year, we have worked with our Korean partner, KT, to establish a channel

and partners, so that could bring over 200 hours a year.”

owned by Discovery but distributed by KT, as well as a production house, Studio Discovery Korea, jointly owned by Discovery and KT. The channel

Where else will you distribute your content? “Our partner in Studio Discov-

launched in September and Studio Discovery is already in production for

ery is KT, which owns a number of channels in Korea. So those channels

four original titles.”

could be a source for distribution. And in addition, we are locking down contracts with other major channels and platforms in Korea and the con-

Why now? “Traditionally, Discovery is better known as an apparel brand

tent could be distributed across their platform.”

in Korea. However, our media business has never taken off. Six or seven years ago, we attempted to establish a locally operated Discovery

You have four shows in production already... “We have survival shows, which

Channel in Korea. It was positioned as a pure factual channel with not

are traditional Discovery type of programmes, with a Korean element, food

much entertainment content and no local original content, so it wasn’t

and reality, with and without celebrities. All are skewed towards entertain-

a huge success. In the past year, we have found a very strong local part-

ment, that’s the content direction we will be taking in Korea.

ner – KT – who can distribute our channel, and we are now determined to invest in local content in Korea, so we are in a much better position to

Are you obliged to utilise Discovery’s formats? “Our priority will be to le-

launch the channel and to expand our content business in Korea.”

verage Discovery’s existing formats across all our channel brands, including TLC, Food Network and HGTV. We will also develop original content.”

What genres is the studio focusing on? “At the start, the studio will primarily be serving the need for the local channel because we need original

Is there an option for you to work with production houses elsewhere in

content, which will primarily be factual-based entertainment content.

Korea or in the region? “Absolutely. Our studio in Korea is a full-fledged

But we are not ruling out any possibilities. As we go and as we expand

production house, but we have the ability to bring in other producers.

our linear business in Korea into digital, we may need to incorporate

We are also very open to co-productions. That model has been going on

more genres.”

successfully in China for a number of years.”

14

contentasia november 2020


interview

The joint content initiative with Alibaba/Youku and Shanghai Media Group is an ecosystem play, an ecosystem that consists of long-form series and also mobile short-form, live shows probably and instant clicks and buys via e-commerce, offline events, and IP derivatives on multiple screens in multiple territories at a global scale as well.” Tony Qiu, Senior Vice President & General Manager – East & Southeast Asia, Discovery

You’ve got significant new investment in China, with Alibaba/Youku and

Is the venture’s investment confined to China? “ It’s not going to be just

Shanghai Media Group. What does your expanded China business look

limited to China. We want the content to work both in China and outside

like? “The joint initiative between Discovery, Alibaba/Youku and SMG is

of China as much as possible.

for food-related programming and production, and is probably the largest food content initiative in China or even across the region for a long

You talk about the joint food initiative as more than programming... “We

time. The China business is trending very healthily. Even for this year, we

are doing this as an ecosystem play. An ecosystem that consists of long-

are not impacted much by the Covid situation. In some areas, such as

form series and also mobile short-form, live shows probably and instant

branded solutions or content co-production, we are seeing mid double-

clicks and buy via e-commerce, offline events, and IP derivatives on mul-

digit growth. And that’s been the case for almost three years in a row.

tiple screens in multiple territories at a global scale as well. It will offer a

We are investing quite heavily in people, in digital initiatives and also

compelling marketing and sales tool to our content sponsors as well as

content.”

better monetisation opportunities for partners. This is about building up a food-related ecosystem.”

How much money is involved in the new initiative? “US$40 million to US$50 million over the next three years, including this year, from 2020.”

How are you exploiting the IP rights to the new content coming out of

How will the food programming commissioning/production work? “The

works in other parts of the region, both linear and digital. We are also

three major partners will manage the pool of funds to be invested in

considering distributing the content on other platforms across Asia. It

food-related content and there will be opportunities for production

could be a second window or a same-time premiere, that’s up for dis-

house partners to work with us on this initiative. The setup is almost like a

cussion. We are also looking for formats that we could work elsewhere in

JV where the decision is co-made by three parties in terms of how the

the region”.

North Asia? “Primarily the content will be output to Discovery family net-

money is going to be spent, what shows we are going to do and which partners we are going to choose.” 16

contentasia november 2020


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interview

Taiwan play book Asian streaming platform Catchplay has unveiled a Taipei-based production subsidiary, Screenworks Asia, with six projects in development from the get go and plans to produce 100 hours a year of mini-series, movies and factual entertainment for audiences across Asia and the rest of the world. CEO Daphne Yang talks about the company’s evolution, development and direction. What drove Catchplay’s shift into production company Screenworks

good stories in the sense that they make people cry, make people laugh

Asia? “It is a milestone for us, but it’s actually not a sudden decision or

and make people think. At the minimum, they would appreciate the

shift. If you look at what we’ve done in the past couple of years, we

content. People’s time is the most precious thing now. There is so much

started from distribution and from there it was a natural evolution. As

to watch... We don’t want to create a number of hours just for the sake

a distributor, when you see minimum guarantees for some projects for

of number of hours. It has to be good storytelling to start with and we trust

just one country or one territory bid up to US$1 million or US$2 million...

good teams because good stories told or produced by mediocre teams

I started thinking, 'wouldn’t it be nice if I could invest in content that I

are probably not as good... We believe in execution.

truly feel I could control from the very beginning'. We wanted to try, so

“We also need a commercially sustainable way of doing business.

we went into co-production and financing deals with Hollywood. We did

We focus a lot on pre-selling co-production. We want something that

the Revenant, Assassin’s Creed by New Regency and then we did Twenty

can be discussed very early on, even at just the concept. We talk to our

Once Again with CJ Entertainment. And so it’s a very natural evolution.

partners; co-production partners or potential partners on what they think

“A couple of years ago we also found that our film library had not been

about a project, whether it will work for their market, especially interna-

monetised enough and we wanted to try to see what we could do with

tional partners and also we hope that it will be able to generate profits

the library and with all the rights we’ve acquired – 2,000 titles over 10

and in the best-case scenario, hopefully be able to recoup 60% even be-

years – after theatrical and home video. We decided that we needed to

fore the principal photography starts. That’s the discipline that we have

do more in digital, and licensing it to the digital platforms just doesn’t re-

for this company.”

ally do it. So we set up our digital platform. Then when you have a digital platform, you start to realise you need sticky content and films are not

What are the first projects you have rolled into Screenworks? “There are

the kind of sticky content that get people to come back and watch a

two projects I want to mention. The first is a Hong Kong-Taiwan co-pro-

few hours every day. So we needed drama series and we ventured into

duction, Mystify in Dust, a 15-part crime thriller brought to us by ViuTV in

drama series last year. We did The World Between Us with WarnerMedia

Hong Kong. The entire production is shot in Taiwan, with a producer and

and then The Making of An Ordinary Woman.

director from Taiwan, and a top cast from Taiwan. We like how it’s struc-

“Last year we talked to TAICCA, the Taiwan Creative Content Agency established by the Ministry of Culture. They trust our capabilities to handle

tured, we think the production budget is sensible. We like the crew and so we just said, ‘let’s start with this’.

projects at these scales. So we proposed the idea to them. After nine

“The second one, a co-production with CTS in Taiwan, is the second

months, the venture was approved. At the same time, we were working

season of The Making of An Ordinary Woman. Season one was rated

on six projects, because we didn’t want to wait. Finally, in late July, we

probably the second strongest Mandarin-language show last year.

announced the establishment of Screenworks Asia, which will be focus-

Catchplay was very proud to be able to present it exclusively on our

ing 100% on original content production.”

platform in Taiwan in 2019. The show won eight Golden Bell nominations... we’re very glad we were able to convince the director and the produc-

How does Screenworks Asia’s funding work? “What’s really important in

er and all the cast to come back and do the second season.

production is risk management. We don’t want to do it in a style where it’s

“There are four other projects in earlier stages. We probably will start

a gamble, where you believe in something so much that you just invest

shooting in 2021. One is a sci-fi project, which is quite a big adventure. And

the money without knowing how to recoup. To us partnership is always

then some factual entertainment as well, in English and also Mandarin. We

the best way. So we talked to TAICCA, which was specifically set up to

want to try and see what we can do in the field of high-quality premium

fund content or creative initiatives that can leverage Taiwanese IP or

factual entertainment for the new generation, millennials or Gen Z.

talents. We agreed on a 51% investment from Catchplay and 49% from TAICCA. Altogether, we are looking to at least kickstart six to 10 projects

“We also have two films in the scripting stage. One is a crime drama and another is a love story for Gen Z.

in the next two years, and hopefully after that, it will be self-sustaining.

“So that’s about all the six projects. It’s quite a big variety of genres

The projects have to be able to make money to fund the next projects.”

ranging from budgets of about US$100,000 per hour to about US$300,000 per hour for drama series and factual entertainment. For films, we are

What’s the best-case scenario? “We hope to be able to establish a self-

looking at the moment at between US$1 million and US$5 million as the

sustainable platform for good storytelling. We have to be able to create

total production budget.”

18

contentasia november 2020


A lot of OTT platforms really believe in local content to the extent that they are giving quite unreasonable offers and creating unnecessary competition... it's an unhealthy way of running the business for local content. So we try to avoid that. Anything that looks like it is turning into a bubble, we try to avoid.� Daphne Yang CEO, Catchplay


interview

Taiwan is not known for being able to produce premium sci-fi. What gives

Asia if possible. And so there’s that and also see if that IP is worth a re-

you the confidence to be a trailblazer in the space? “I’m a sci-fi fan. I know 

make in  different  versions.  That’s  something  that  we  are  looking  for  as 

what good sci-fi looks like but that’s not the main reason. The main reason 

well. But probably not pure financial investments.”

is we found a team that has done something similar. We think they are the  closest to be able to pull it off and the story is fantastic. The script is being 

Is everything Screenworks makes headed for Catchplay first? “Obviously 

written and  hopefully  we’ll  be  able  to  find  co-production  partners  who 

we set up Screenworks so that we can somehow leverage or try to cre-

can add value and try to bring it to a bigger scale if possible. It’s not spe-

ate some synergy. Otherwise, we don’t need to do it but we’ll be glad if 

cifically for a Taiwanese audience. It is something that we think will be able 

Screenworks can produce enough hours of quality content that can pre-

to travel and that’s why we think we need bigger partners.”

miere on Catchplay the platform first. 

You mentioned co-production partners, like HBO Asia and ViuTV. How

handle it  and  try  to  distribute  it  in  theatres  in  Taiwan  or  in  Asia  or  work 

“If it’s a movie, then of course the Catchplay distribution team would  broadly are you looking and will most of your productions be made in

with partners in Asia and try to maximise the value. We probably would 

Taiwan? “We are looking at co-production partners from everywhere in 

keep it for certain exclusive window, but it doesn’t mean that there is no 

the world. There’s one IP from France; it’s a great story that we would be 

license fee involved. Catchplay still needs to pay Screenworks Asia a cer-

able to remake in Mandarin and try to find a co-production partner in 

tain amount  of  reasonable  licence  fee...  we  welcome  co-premieres  in 

Southeast Asia. The projects that we’re doing don’t necessarily have to 

order to create more success or a bigger scale of impact for the content, 

be shot in Taiwan, but because of our JV with TAICCA we want to have 

like we  did  with  HBO  Asia  for  example.  So  I  would  say,  in  comparison, 

some leverage of Taiwanese talent or Taiwanese IP if possible.

we’re not Netflix. We don’t keep everything to ourselves and use content 

“If projects  don’t  work  for  Screenworks  Asia,  we  can  still  do  them 

as a tool just to create a success of the platform. It’s not the case for us. 

through Catchplay... For example, we have a co-production film project 

We want the content to be successful first. Although at the moment, our 

with CJ in Thailand and for the market of Thailand to start with and South-

platform is probably not as big so that’s why we would look into working 

east Asia. It doesn’t use any Taiwanese talents or Taiwanese money, it’s a 

with other platforms on co-premieres. So more people get to watch it or 

Catchplay project rather than a Screenworks project.”

get to be able to see even on TV.”

Would you be willing to invest in somebody else’s production as a pure

How much of a priority is Indonesia? “Indonesia is paramount. We started 

investment partner? “We would, but I think we would look at the strategic 

the journey  four  years  ago.  We  are  very  very  thankful  for  all  the  part-

value for us. We don’t do just pure financial investments. We would look 

ners we have there who are supporting us. We made a good decision a 

at the  story  and  see  if  there’s  an  opportunity  to  distribute  in  Taiwan 

couple of years ago. When everybody was talking about mobile first, we 

theatrically or on the platform, or take it to our platform across Southeast 

didn’t believe that. Mobile is... not where all the value is, it’s not where 

20

contentasia november 2020


The World Between Us

people pay for premium content. We tried something on mobile, but

of content, but at the same time start to try a bit more in original content

then we switched very quickly to big screens. So all our major partners in

where we weren’t used to that much previously.”

Indonesia at the moment are big-screen partners and through our deep relationships, we’re now seeing very good take up and very good pay

You said you pivoted from mobile to big screen pretty quickly when

rate from the subscriber base in Indonesia mainly from big screens... We

you realised that the value was in big screen, and you also highlighted

have started conversations with Indonesian producers about co-produc-

a sensible approach to paying for content that’s going to provide value

tion. We acquired the movie Bebas, an Indonesian production, exclu-

for your platform. What have your other big learnings been from the

sively for Catchplay in Indonesia. Before Bebas, there were other films

streaming environment? “I think taking risk is important and for the past

that we acquired exclusively, but I think it’s probably time that we go a

years if you compare us to a lot of the other OTT players that are probably

little bit deeper and look into co-production opportunities.”

not there anymore or are fading, we are quite happy to say that the idea that this is going to be a marathon and the belief that we need to do it

Has all the competition in Indonesia made it more difficult to acquire

in a sustainable way is right.

content? “A lot of OTT platforms really believe in local content to the

“But taking risk is still important. So the risk for us to go abroad, from Tai-

extent that they are giving quite unreasonable offers and creating

wan to venture into Singapore, to venture into Indonesia, it’s something

unnecessary competition... it's an unhealthy way of running the business

that we needed to do in order to create – or try to create – economies

for local content. So we try to avoid that. Anything that looks like it is turn-

of scale, to hopefully make this business make sense. Managing risk is also

ing into a bubble, we try to avoid... So that’s why we were facing chal-

very important.

lenges getting content. We may do one exclusive title in Indonesia say

“Commitment and perseverance is something we’ve learned as well.

once or twice in a quarter or half a year, but we are not able to say ‘hey,

It’s not always who’s the smartest, it is always who’s there and who’s al-

I’m going to buy 10, 12 original titles for Indonesia in a year’. We just don’t

ways there and who’s trying harder and who’s trying to make things work

think that budget makes sense. But I hope that things will come back to

in a healthy way rather than a quick shortcut or something.

a more sensible situation, where people agree to a more sensible way of doing business and trying to run it on a long-term basis.”

“And integrity... it’s very important that we keep that in mind. We are in this business, in a platform business, we want to do good things. We want the audience to be able to get something from it rather than us trying to

What international content are you acquiring? “We acquire quite a lot

just make money out of it and nothing else. So I guess at this time of the

of international content, and have output deals with the studios; Disney,

big environment we do see integrity playing and I hope more and more

Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony as well for Indonesia... We also acquire

people pay attention to that.”

quite a lot from Korea for Indonesia as well, and some Japanese content as well and I think this year we’re going to keep acquiring a good variety

21


datatrends

Find the gap, please Dennis Yang, CEO and managing partner of Taipei-based Studio76 Original Productions, talks about finding stories and directors with unique visual styles, experimenting with genres and formats, and Taiwan’s advantages and challenges as a content centre.

Dennis Yang, CEO & Managing Partner, Studio76 Original Productions

Taiwan’s Studio76 Original Productions launched just ahead of the pan-

span of genres? “We want to try

demic with an ambitious three-year slate, a high appetite for experi-

out as many genres as possible.

mentation, a horror debut targetting audiences that mass market TV

We have very strict budget control

broadcasters aren’t accommodating, tapping online communities and

on every title that we produce. There

fanbases for stories, and trying to expand Taiwan’s footprint overseas.

is some drama we cannot do, but there

CEO & managing partner, Dennis Yang talks about experimenting with

are a lot of good stories that we can bring into

formats, finding stories, and Taiwan’s advantages and challenges as a

production and show to people saying, ‘hey, here’s a

production centre.

good original story we’re trying to tell from Taiwan’. In general. we are trying to do as many genres as possible in our first year. So probably in the

Tell us how a six-month-old company went into this pandemic... “We’re quite

second and third years, we will be focusing more on selected genres. But

lucky actually because the first three titles we produced wrapped production

now in the first year I want to try as much as possible.”

before January 2020. So pretty much when the pandemic hit, we were already in post production. Probably the only impact was our ability to

Where did the first stories come from and why did you decide

launch the titles on schedule because they had to be supported by on-

on these for your debut? “Firstly, we want to show people that

ground events, particularly basketball story, Fly The Jumper.”

Studio76 is trying to do something different. That’s why we selected horror, because this is a genre that normally TV stations will not touch.

Despite Covid-19, you are on track with your three-year timeline. What

Mostly they do love stories. There’s a limitation on horror stories on TV.

other productions are you planning? “When we started the company,

In Taiwan, you can only show horror stories after 10pm. So we thought,

the aim was to produce 30 titles in the next three years... and we are on

‘okay maybe it is a good genre to start with’. Horror is actually a popu-

track. So far, we have finished four titles, and are busy with four more by

lar genre, especially for OTT or digital platforms. So we started looking

the end of the year, so we have good momentum. There are more and

at discussion forums in Taiwan. On PTT, one of the top forums in Taiwan,

more partners in the region right now. They are working with us in co-

there’s a series of 36 ghost stories with a large fanbase by one writer. A

production and also in the distribution. We are planning to enter script

Taiwan publisher put all 36 stories into three books and published the

competitions as well in order to discover more good stories in Taiwan.”

series in Taiwan and China to a much bigger fanbase. We contacted the writer and publisher, and agreed to adapt four stories, which led

Your first four productions are very different from each other. There’s hor-

to 76 Horror Bookstore – Tin Can of Fear.”

ror, sports, crime & investigation. What’s the thinking behind the broad

22

contentasia november 2020


76 Horror Bookstore - Tin Can of Fear

Essentially an adaptation of fan-based fiction? “Exactly”

the days in KKTV, I produced three titles, each was 90-100 minutes in total run time. And then we chopped that into eight episodes and we played

What about basketball story, Fly the Jumper, which is very different.

one episode per day and we saw that our audience was building. So we

Where did that come from? “The idea came from our target audience.

said, ‘okay this is a nice experiment’... Everyday, when we showed a new

Before I started Studio76, I was a co-founder of KKTV, a SVOD platform in

title, more people joined. So we started talking to the production compa-

Taiwan. So we understand that the core audience for digital platforms/

nies, and we found that maybe if we extended that to 25 minutes per epi-

OTT services is actually 25- to 35-year old females, especially in Taiwan.

sode, the story might be more solid and more interesting, so that’s why we

Horror Bookstore is right on target for 25-35 year-old females, and we

turned that concept into 25 minutes per episode. with a hundred min-

thought, ‘how about bringing that target audience down to 15-25?

utes total run time, we can have four episodes. So there are several ways

What kind of formats or what kind of stories might attract them?’ So we

to present that for the platforms. Platforms that license this title have two

thought we should try sports teen drama, which is a popular genre in

edits to choose from; one edit is 25 minutes per episode and the other is

Taiwan. Also a lot of the production companies in Taiwan… love comedy

a 100-minute full-length version. As long as the story is interesting there is a

teen dramas. So we went looking for a good sports teen drama, and we

market, regardless of Covid-19. Our idea is to produce stories that fit into

found an original story and developed that into a 100-minute TV movie.”

the formats of digital platforms as well as TV, so we need a total run time of not less than 90 minutes, which can fit back into the TV format. Now

Your third one is Kill for Love, which again is very different... “This one comes

we have a lot of demand from the TV stations in Taiwan, China, Malaysia,

from the idea of a famous scriptwriter in Taiwan. This script was awarded

Singapore, Indonesia and Korea as well. We are preparing to license to

one of the best scripts back two years ago in Taiwan. The story is inspired

Japan as well.”

by a real crime event 20 years ago, which was a very popular case. We thought crime stories were a good direction for us to explore, especially

How do you think demand from streaming platforms has impacted

crime stories based on female murderers. This is a good sub genre under

production in Taiwan? “Taiwan is quite lucky because there was no

crime investigation. We worked with the script writer who also wanted to

lock down. There were several weeks of working from home and the

be the director, and brought the production team together.”

government asked companies to try to keep social distancing in March and April, but after that everything went back to normal. Of course the

There’s something quite unusual about the series lengths you have chosen

demand from OTT platforms and TV stations is increasing, especially from

– all are four episodes of about 25 minutes per series. Why did you decide

China, so during this period we actually got good demand coming from

on this format? “When we started out, we understood the direction of our

China asking for our content. We know that they’re not only asking us.

productions; we wanted to do as many 100-minute TV movies first. Back in

They also asking other production companies in Taiwan and also the li-

contentasia november 2020

23


datatrends

Fly The Jumper

Taiwan has good production, but we don’t know how to sell outside Chinese markets.” Dennis Yang, Studio76 Original Productions

What do you see as the biggest creative (or other) challenges for Taiwan’s content industry? “Taiwan used to work very closely with Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia in Chinese content. Most production companies, most licensors, in Taiwan are not used to selling their content outside of Chinese markets. I think that’s the biggest challenge for us. Yes, we have good production, but we don’t know how to sell it outside the Chinese markets. So this is why we are producing very genre-based

censors in Taiwan, because there’s stronger demand coming from China

stories. That is the way for us to reach further to markets like the U.S. or

and there is lower supply. The good thing about what we are producing

Europe. We would love to sell our content even to the Middle East... we

in Taiwan is that it’s all in Mandarin and we can sell it to China, Hong

want to explore as many new markets as possible even though the lan-

Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, to the Chinese markets.”

guage we use is Mandarin.”

Has this increase demand made access to talent and resources in Tai-

Taiwan has plenty of talent. There’s plenty of demand and also you have

wan more difficult for you? “Not really, because there’s a good supply of

very strong government support for the creative industry. Would you call

talent in Taiwan in script writing, in acting, in production, and also there’s

distribution your biggest challenge? “Yes, I would say that. There’s also

one thing unique to Taiwan; if you look at Taiwan, China, Hong Kong,

some very strong supply of Chinese content coming from China and from

Taiwan is probably the only market that has a good supply of directors for

Hong Kong... Taiwan's creative industry has strong government support.

music videos. So that’s actually a good place for us to start choosing new

TAICCA, one of the creative agencies backed by the government, is

directors with unique visual styles. This is what we are trying to cultivate.”

trying not only to support more production companies and projects, but also trying to match original IP from the publishing industry. Taiwan pub-

What’s your view on co-productions and partnerships? “We are open

lishes many books every year that can be adapted into TV dramas and

at any time to any ideas for co-production partnership... and we are

movies. The government is putting a lot of resources and support right

willing to share our experience and to create more and more cross-

now into matching those original ideas and stories and IPs and trying to

border, cross-culture, co-production and trying to use the rich talent pool

create much bigger synergies in all these creative industries. I think this is

coming up from Taiwan and also from the region.”

something good for Taiwan.”

24

contentasia november 2020


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Be Included! ContentAsia’s directory, The Big List, lists leading content creators, producers, distributors, channels, operators, platforms and tech companies in 17 markets across Asia. The Big List is distributed to ContentAsia’s full database and online at www.contentasia.tv

For more information, please contact... Masliana Masron (Asia Pacific/Middle East) E: mas@contentasia.tv T: +65 6846-5988

Leah Gordon (Americas/Europe) E: leah@contentasia.tv T: +1 310 926 6761

www.contentasia.tv

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Profile for ContentAsia

ContentAsia's Issue Four, November 2020  

ContentAsia's Issue Four, November 2020