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SEPTEMBER AUGUST 2021

C

NTENT

Rights distribution in Asia:

Polls, trends, influences & what’s ahead

@all3media_int all3mediainternational.com

Plus: Thailand’s first adaptation of Project Runway, India’s OTT boom, movies & a whole lot more


contents...

what’s inside... Walk the walk

Covid19 has impacted our business in two ways: acquisition budgets for finished programmes have been affected and the rollout of our localised formats, the formats which we’ve sold to clients have had their productions held back because of Covid19.”

Project Runway Thailand

Thailand’s first adaptation of Project Runway is on its way to recently acquired and rebranded digital free-TV network, JKN18. The Fremantle format is part of Thai mogul Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip’s burgeoning beauty and style business.

4

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

page 8

Impact statements

The linear channels were strong partners for our content, so it is sad to see them go. However, change is part of the industry change and it has been exciting finding and creating new opportunities elsewhere.”

International rights holders/distributors talk about this year’s most significant trends in Asia and what’s having the biggest impact on their business in the region.

Sabrina Duguet, EVP Asia Pacific, All3media International

page 8

Trends & influences Top executives distributing Asian content across the region talk about how the content distribution/syndication environment in Asia has shifted and the trends and influences going forward.

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

Brave hearts Sonia Fleck’s Bomanbridge is backing North Korean undercover documentary, The Mole: Undercover in North Korea, in Asia Pacific (ex Japan) in a deal with Danish director Mads Brügger and Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s DR. Fleck’s move opens access to a real-life drama that has been called a most severe embarrassment ever to North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong Un.

18

8

Stream catchers India has upwards of 450 million unique streaming viewers a month, 58 million paying SVOD subs, and a burgeoning community of OTT players serving regional language audiences. Vanita Kohli-Khandekar looks at the next generation of operators discovering their voices online.

22

Script rewrite India’s cinema bosses are moving beyond the pandemic with the view that OTT and direct-to-streaming film releases are just more elements in an expanded ecosystem... and not the voracious opportunistic giants that gobbled up their world.

26

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

What is ContentAsia?

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

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

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

Copyright 2021 Pencil Media Pte Ltd. All Rights Reserved

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

contentasia september 2021

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productioninterview

Walk the walk

Project Runway Thailand

Thailand’s first adaptation of Project Runway is on its way to recently acquired and rebranded digital free-TV network, JKN18. The Fremantle format is part of Thai mogul Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip’s burgeoning beauty and style business. When Project Runway makes its way to free-TV screens in Thailand for

The Thai series will be hosted by JKN chief executive and social media

the first time in early 2022, the fashion competition/reality format joins a

influencer, Anne Jakkaphong Jakrajutatip, making her debut as the first

burgeoning beauty and style division of JKN Global Media’s flourishing

transgender host on a Project Runway.

media empire. The Thai adaptation, announced in a deal with Fremantle just ahead of this year’s ContentAsia Summit, will be produced in Bangkok by JKN

Award-winning fashion designer and professor Tawn Chatchavalvong “Tawn C” (Thai Tim Gunn) is on board as mentor. Judges and contestants’ casting is under way.

Best Life Co, a new unit set up in April to manage both digital terrestrial

Project Runway Thailand comes four months after the listed JKN Glob-

TV services and the distribution/manufacturing of health, beauty and

al Media acquired loss-making digital terrestrial station, New 18 (now

consumer products.

known as JKN18), from DN for a total of THB 1,060 million/US$34 million.

The series will air exclusively on JKN18, the free-to-air digital terrestrial

DN entered the sale with loan/debts of approx THB2.4 billion/US$76

DTT channel acquired from DN Broadcast Company earlier this year and

million. According to documents filed with Thailand’s Stock Exchange,

now wholly owned and operated by JKN Best Life.

DN lost more than THB907 million/US$29 million in 2018/9 and 2020.

Project Runway is the fifth Asian edition of the franchise, following adap-

The entry into Thailand’s DTT environment came a month after JKN

tations in the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam. The show’s

rented air time on DN’s New18 digital channel to sell its products and air

most recent completed version in Asia Pacific was in New Zealand.

news and documentaries.

4

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productioninterview

JKN18 is the company’s third TV platform after cable/satellite drama channel, JKN Dramax, and Thai news channel JKN CNBC. Project Runway Thailand adds to the country’s vibrant formats environment. According to ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook 1H 2021 report, Thailand remains among Asia’s top three formats markets, despite plummeting 58% in volume for the first six months this year against last year. Thailand aired/commissioned 15 formats in the first half of this year – about 21 titles less than we counted in the first six months of last year. This put Thailand in third place (behind India and Vietnam) among the 18 markets tracked for ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook in the first six months of this year. In the first half of 2021, game shows totally dominated Thailand’s formats count with 47% of the total, followed by cooking, dating and drama (neck and neck at 13% each). The remaining 14% is split between modelling and singing formats. The latest Project Runway Thailand sits alongside localised adaptations of regional formats such as Korean comedy/romance drama series Bring it On, Ghost and Let’s Eat 2, and Japanese cooking competition Iron Chef S10.

Thailand’s formats breakdown by genre in 1H 2021 Thailand Singing contest 7% Reality - Modelling 7%

Drama Romance/comedy 13%

Reality - Dating 13%

Reality - Cooking 13% Game Show 47%

Source: ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook, 1H 2021. Data gathered from rights holders & broadcasters in June/ July 2021.

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distributorspoll

Impact statements International rights holders/distributors talk about this year’s most significant trends in Asia and what’s having the biggest impact on their business in the region.

In about a month, at the beginning of October, 18 Disney/Fox linear channels disappear from Asia’s video landscape, ending one era and opening whole new opportunities across the board, not least a slew of existing and new linear service providers, who are already rushing in. The changing linear landscape, and the exit of a major buyer, has also opened up gaps for distributors and content providers. We asked them what happens now.

Sabrina Duguet, EVP Asia Pacific, All3media International

The answers were pretty much a consensus: Yes, it’s sad

Nicole Sinclair, VP, client relations for South Asia (Australia, NZ, SE Asia, India), ViacomCBS

Jonathan Greenburg, EVP, TV licensing regional sales, N. Asia, ViacomCBS global distribution

that Disney is pulling the plug. But we’re all grown ups here, the move was not unexpected, and other buyers are stepping up. Far from ringing the death knell for traditional platforms,

channels is negligible.

many say there’s lots of life left in free-TV, and that pay-TV

“We are actually selling more factual content than previ-

providers are also reinventing their products in line with

ous year,” Or says.

changing audience behaviour.

Jetpack Distribution’s global sales director, Sophie “Kido”

“We’re seeing this as an opportunity,” says Nicole Sinclair,

Prigent, has also noticed an uptick. “We’re noticing that the Ganesh Rajaram, GM, EVP Sales – Asia, Fremantle

ViacomCBS’ VP, client relations for South Asia (Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, India).

channels are picking back up and we are receiving new offers,” she says.

“It’s sad that the Fox channels are going away, but for us

Joanne Azzopardi, Beyond Rights’ EVP sales for Australia/

it creates other opportunities with other clients,” she says,

New Zealand and Asia, says her experience with linear ser-

adding that the return of big-brand properties and spin-offs

vices is similar.

such as CSI: Vegas and FBI: International later this year drives

“Definitely VOD is predicted to continue to grow ex-

interest.

ponentially however linear is also still strong, especially in

“The linear channels were strong partners for our content,

markets where OTT is not as accessible,” she says.

so it is sad to see them go. However, change is part of the

Ganesh Rajaram, Fremantle’s GM, EVP Sales – Asia, and

industry change and it has been exciting finding and creating Ayesha Surty, SVP Licensing

Kelly Wright, Keshet International’s SVP distribution/new busi-

new opportunities elsewhere,” says Sabrina Duguet, All3media

ness, also say there is more interest from free-to-air stations

Asia, ITV Studios Global Entertainment

International’s EVP Asia Pacific.

and localised platforms in shows that previously had first

Rashmi Bajpai, Banijay Rights’ EVP Asia, says the pan-Asian

windows on pan-regional linear channels.

linear broadcasters “were integral to our growth and suc-

In Japan and Korea, there’s still steady business from basic

cess. So this heralds a structural change of approach in our

and pay-TV and the appetite for procedurals remains strong,

business, one that we have started to deal with across the

says Jonathan Greenburg, EVP, television licensing regional

region by opening up new avenues”.

sales, North Asia for ViacomCBS global distribution group.

BBC Studios’ Asia SVP/GM, Phil Hardman, is also in the

China continues to be steady.

new-opportunities camp.

But, he adds, “we are also seeing a lot more SVOD platforms

“This is part of a global evolution of the media industry in

– including Coupang in Korea and Hulu in Japan –

Kelly Wright, SVP distribution and new business, Keshet International

response to audience preferences and increasing priority of

acquiring first-run and premium series”.

direct to consumer offers,” he says.

Revamps at traditional networks – including the return of

Free TV networks are picking up some of the slack. “Free TV is

Cartoonito at WarnerMedia – are also cause for optimism.

still a big part of our business,” Sinclair says.

“In the kids space, as much as we prefer to have a vast

Henry Or, Boat Rocker Media’s SVP, strategic partner-

choice of partners for the exposure of our shows on linear,

ships, Asia, says a high percentage of his business is with lo-

we also welcome the announcement of Warner launching

cal broadcasters, so the impact of the exit of regional linear

Cartoonito,” says Jetpack Distribution’s Prigent.

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Jimmy George, VP - Sales and Acquisition, GoQuest Media

contentasia september 2021


Julien Farçat, Director of Sales, Cake

Joanne Azzopardi, EVP Sales, ANZ & Asia, Beyond Rights

Jae Chang, Head of TV Distribution & Home Entertainment, WarnerMedia

Rashmi Bajpai, EVP Asia, Banijay Rights

At the same time, she has the rollout of HBO Max in Asia on her radar and says she will of course “continue our conversations with Disney+”. There’s little argument about SVOD platforms driving growth. All3media International’s Duguet speaks about the strong dynamic created by competition between SVOD platforms in Asia. “More competition means a greater need for the platforms and channels to stand out and be innovative. Ultimately this is good for creators and content providers,” she says. “Titles are slowly finding their homes on digital platforms in Asia and this is only going to grow,” says Jimmy George, GoQuest Media’s sales and acquisition VP. Few disagree, although some point out that there is no clarity yet on the final outcome of the streaming wars in Asia. Overall, most say it’s too early – and maybe never possible – to pick one factor in the “biggest impact” stakes. Disney/Fox channels’ exit is part of a broad shift that combines with the rise of local, regional and on-demand/streaming, the likelihood of further industry consolidation, and the pandemic. Down to details, it’s also too early to say if the volume of content going to streaming services in Asia will equal or exceed the amount that regional linear channels used to buy – or if the genres will be the same. “The biggest impact is yet to be seen,” says Teremoana Seguin, Harbour Rights’ managing director. “Too early to say,” says Reel One Entertainment’s international distribution manager, Mai Aboelfadle. Beyond Rights’ Azzopardi agrees. It is, she says, “still too soon”. One thing is for sure: there’s more than enough to go around to satisfy every Asian taste.

9


distributorspoll

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

Henry Or, SVP, Strategic Partnerships, Asia, Boat Rocker Media

Phil Hardman, SVP & General Manager, Asia, BBC Studios

ViacomCBS’ Sinclair quotes ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group president, Dan Cohen: “We have plenty of content to go around”.

Mai Aboelfadle, International Distribution Manager, Reel One Entertainment

Teremoana Seguin, Managing Director, Harbour Rights

The flip side to this, she adds, is “an increased agility and flexibility from partners and distributors alike”. WarnerMedia’s head of TV distribution & home entertainment, Jae

THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 Most distributors, not surprisingly, put Covid-19 at the top of their lists of factors impacting their business in Asia this year. How could they not? Covid-19 and widespread containment measures have impacted Fremantle’s business in two ways, Rajaram says. The first is acquisition budgets for finished programmes, which have been affected, and the second is the rollout of localised formats. “The formats which we’ve sold to clients have had their productions held back because of Covid-19,” he adds.

Chang, highlights Covid-19’s impact on windowing. “Covid-19 has affected all sides of media businesses leading into reshaping of windowing in our traditional business. Many territories closed their cinemas due to lock-down and theatrical release wasn’t feasible or significantly delayed resulting in new windowing strategy,” he says. “As we move into the future, the new windowing paradigm will continue to be one of the key impact for our business in Asia,” Chang adds. “Covid-19 with all its implications meant that the economy plummeted. Advertising budgets were reduced, which meant financing projects got

Of course he’s not alone.

increasingly difficult. Productions were on hold. Travel suspended. We

“With every new wave of Covid-19 we have seen and been faced

relied on library titles to fill scheduling gaps,” adds Banijay Rights’ Bajpai.

with productions and schedules being postponed in almost every Asian territory,” says Ayesha Surty, ITV Studios Global Entertainment’s SVP licensing for Asia,

10

At the same time, the pandemic led to increased in-home consumption. In turn, digital platforms upped acquisitions. “Covid has ensured there is an increased viewership across all digital

contentasia september 2021


9 out of 17 distributors say local broadcasters and platforms in Asia have changed their buying habits. Have local Asian broadcasters and2021, platforms (free/pay/online) Source: ContentAsia’s Distributors Poll conducted in July 2021 changed their acquisitions habits in 2021? (17 responses) Not sure 6%

Nitin Michael, Founder & Managing Director, SynProNize

The Tourist, All3media International

Yes 53%

No 41%

Buyers in Asia are also a lot more selective.

platforms, this has also ensured a majority

“2021 is all about ‘selection & concentration’ when

of these digital platforms have increased

it comes to content acquisitions,” says WarnerMedia’s

their budgets and are open to trying out more content,” says Nitin Michael, SynProNize’s found-

Chang. “It’s becoming difficult to do a volume deal as compare to the

er and managing director. Budgets can be all over the place across the region though.Yes

No

past and media players are more selective on their preference than

Not sure

“In some cases clients are still experiencing very limited acquisition spending. In other instances there is a greater appetite for positive, up-

before,” he says. SynProNize’s Michael notes a greater openness. “The shift has primar-

lifting, entertaining content and our children’s educational content...

ily been with online players being more open to experiment with con-

channels and services that have never normally carried children’s con-

tent from newer geographies than before,” he says.

tent have started to do so,” says Beyond Rights’ Azzopardi. “There is now a greater focus on local programming,” Banijay Rights’

They are also more focused on value. “The main trend is buying more economically and asking for longer

Bajpai says. “The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in viewership.

license period or more runs in order to improve their KPI,” Harbour Rights

The increase in content consumption has led to a greater demand in

Seguin says.

acquisitions and original productions,” she says. BBC Studios’ Hardman agrees. “There is increasing investment in originals and exclusive content across the region,” he says.

Cake’s sales director, Julien Farçat, says “budget constraints and the need to acquire more kids’ content during the pandemic have meant that some broadcasters renewed series or focused on non-dialogue content to help them face the challenges ahead.”

11


distributorspoll

The Suicide Squad, WarnerMedia

Are you investing in any Asian original IP? (17 responses)

Are you investing in Asian original IP?

No 41%

7

10

CSI:Vegas, ViacomCBS

Yes 59%

AND NOW WHAT? Distributors are mostly united on their solutions to dealing with a fast-shifting environment. Closer working partnerships to monitor uncertain and fast-changing situations on the ground. And, given all the travel restrictions, new ways of connecting remotely. “We are working on a daily basis with our partners to understand the situation in each individual territory,” Keshet’s Wright says. The answer, says Reel One Entertainment’s Mai Aboelfadle, is “finding new ways to build partnerships without the ability to travel. We have been more creative in how we get our content across”.

Yes

12

No

And so say all of them.

contentasia september 2021


Is thereIs there anyanyspecific market market segspecific market or marketor segment in Asia that has risen in significance for you as a rights ment in Asia that has risen in significance holder/distributor since the beginning of 2021? (17 for rights holders/distributors since the beresponses) ginning of 2021?

Are streaming platforms – domestic and/or regional/international – filling the licensing Are streaming platforms -- domestic and/or regional/international -- filling the hole left by the linear exits in Asia? licensing hole left by the linear exits in Asia? (17 responses) Too soon to tell 53%

Yes 41% Yes 47% No 53%

No

53% (9 out of 17 participants) say yes. Markets listed are India (4), Thai-

53% (9 of 17 participants) say it is too soon to tell. 41% (7) of them say yes

land (1), Vietnam (1), Bangladesh (1), Korea (2), Indonesia (1), Philip-

and one say no.

Yes

No

pines (1). Two mentioned the hype in streaming in Korea and Indonesia. Yes

Have you added rights to any Asian

Are there rights added Asian series/ series/programmes (includingto anyany co-productions you may be involved in with Asian producers) to programmes (including co-productions inyour regional or international catalogues in volving Asian 2020/1? producers) to their regional/ (17 respones) international catalogues in 2020/1?

No

Too soon to tell

Are there new demand in Asia this year for any particular genre? Are you noticing new demand in Asia this year for any particular genre? (17 responses) No 6%

No 29%

Yes 71% Yes 94%

70% (12 of the 17 participants) say yes. Titles include WarnerMedia’s On

94% (16 of the 17 participants) say there’s new demand in Asia this year

No The Job (Philippines) producedYes by Reality Entertainment, premiering in

for genres ranging from scripted Yes formats No that are easy/inexpensive to

Q3 2021 as part of HBOA Originals; localised versions of Fremantle’s in-

adapt, educational content to period drama, fantasy, love/dating real-

ternational formats Take Me Out Thailand, China’s Got Talent, Asia’s Got

ity and uplifting/feel good/escapist content.

Talent; game show Stacking It! from ITV Studios; original scripted series Deep Crime Unit (DCU) from Keshet International and TBS Japan; and three from BBC Studios: Hear Her; factual landmark One Cup, A Thousand Stories co-produced with Migu Video; and science series Odyssey into the Future in partnership with Bilibili. Source: ContentAsia’s Distributors Poll 2021, conducted in July 2021

13


distributorsquotes

Trends & influences Top executives distributing Asian content across the region talk about how the content distribution/ syndication environment in Asia has shifted and the trends and influences going forward.

What has had the biggest impact on your business in Asia this year so far?

“I would say Covid-19. When the situation has slowed down all advertising revenue locally but we can see the growth of OTT subscription revenue slightly increasing.” Joe Suteestarpon, CEO, Mediaplex International (Thailand)

“The prices for Thai content (BL content) have risen substantially.” Jay Lin, CEO, Portico Media (Taiwan)

“The spread of Covid-19 and the various restrictions that different coun-

“Covid-19 lock down, which makes it difficult to

Afumi Watanabe, Chief Manager, NHK Enterprises (Japan)

tries are implementing. It is affecting the production and logistics.”

film big scale long-form content.” Nini Yusof, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Media Prima TV Networks & Primeworks Studios (Malaysia)

“In the past, we would only licence our feature films in the region, now Jay Lin, CEO Portico Media (Taiwan)

“Covid-19” Agnes Rozario, Director, Content,

there is a demand for series as well and also IPs.” Tina B. Tubongbanua, Head of Licensing and Acquisitions, Viva Communications (Philippines) “The intense competition among Asian contents

Astro (Malaysia)

to serve major platforms in this year and the Cov-

“Programme distribution in China territory.” Ryuji Komiya, Team Leader / Head of Format,

id-19 situation heavily affects the business cycle and the production.” Nattaporn Runghajornklin (Matt), VP - Interna-

Fuji Television (Japan)

tional Business, BEC World (Thailand)

Agnes Rozario Director, Content Astro (Malaysia)

Matt Runghajornklin VP - International Business BEC World (Thailand)

Have buyers from Asian broadcasters and Have buyers from Asian broadcasters and platforms platforms (free/pay/online/streaming) changed (free/pay/online/streaming) changed their acquisitions their acquisitions habits in 2021? (11 responses) habits in 2021? (11 responses)

Areyou you noticing noticing new Are new demand demandin inAsia Asiathis thisyear yearfor for any particular genre? (11 responses) any particular genre? (11 responses) No 9%

Not sure 27%

Yes 55%

No 18%

Yes 91% Yes 14

No

Not sure

Yes

No contentasia september 2021


“Changes in leadership and channel strate-

“Non-drama genre” Nini Yusof, Deputy Chief

gies - a lot of unknown creates a holding pat-

Executive Officer, Media Prima TV Networks &

tern. Patience is required!!!”

Primeworks Studios (Malaysia)

Sonia Fleck, CEO, Bomanbridge Media

Sonia Fleck, CEO Bomanbridge Media

“Non-scripted format”

Nini Yusof, Deputy CEO, Media Prima TV Networks & Primeworks Studios (Malaysia)

“The increasing numbers of OTT platforms, most especially in the Philip-

Ryuji Komiya, Team

pines, has helped in generating sales.” Aileen Samson, AVP-Syndication

Leader / Head of For-

and Affiliate Sales Head, Cignal TV (Philippines)

mat, Fuji Television (Japan)

“We have seen strong take up of CNA factual and

“Yes, buyers are looking to explore new genres.

documentary content by regional OTT (Netflix, Dis-

As from Thai aspect, the production from Thai-

covery Asia) and pay TV in Latin America (BBC, A+E History Channel, Natgeo). Bluechip wild life series and topical current affairs content are our bestselling docus.” Jesslyn Wong, Head of Content Distribution, Mediacorp Singapore

Ryuji Komiya, Team Leader / Head of Format Fuji Television (Japan)

land is getting more popular on OTT platforms, which was very hard in the past due to limited quota and timeslot in each country. The new

approach on content offering on OTT have created new opportunities for new type of content, including Thai dramas. As you might see a lot

Jesslyn Wong, Head of Content Distribution, Mediacorp Singapore

of Thai dramas are now on global/regional platforms such as Netflix,

Are you noticing new demand in Asia this year for any particular genre?

Viu, WeTV etc. Thai BL series is also in the highlight in many markets. The uniqueness of storytelling and production gives the audience a totally different taste and it kickstarts the creation of fanbase all around the world. Thai BL series is and will be a big trend for years to come.” Joe Suteestarpon, CEO, Mediaplex International (Thailand)

“BL and LGBT” Jay Lin, CEO, Portico Media (Taiwan)

”Studio-based

“Yes, Thai - as production has shut down in many countries licensing has

formats”

become increasingly important. Also local (in country) content.”

family

Watanabe,

entertainment

Chief

Manager,

NHK Enterprises (Japan)

Agnes Rozario, Director, Content, Astro (Malaysia)

Is there any specific market or market segment in Asia that has risen in significance for you as a rights Is there any specific market or market segment in Asia holder/distributor since the beginning of 2021? (11 responses) that has risen in significance for you as a rights holder/ distributor since the beginning of 2021? (11 responses)

formats,

Afumi

“Action, horror and family drama” Tina B. Tubongbanua, Head of Licensing and Acquisitions, Viva Communications (Philippines) Afumi Watanabe Chief Manager NHK Enterprises (Japan)

“BL (Boy Love), horror” Nattaporn Runghajornklin (Matt), VP - International Business, BEC World (Thailand)

“More focused on anime, kids generally, talent lead lifestyles and inter-

No 36%

national drama (not just English-speaking).” Sonia Fleck, CEO, Bomanbridge Media “Drama and horror” Aileen

Samson,

AVP-Syndication

and

Affiliate Sales Head, Cignal TV (Philippines)

Yes 64%

Aileen Samson, AVP-Syndication and Affiliate Sales Head Cignal TV (Philippines)

Source: ContentAsia’s Distributors Poll (July 2021), 11 executives from six countries (Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan) participated

Yes

No 15


distributorsquotes

Are you seeing the demand for Asian content increase this year? (11 responses) Are you seeing the demand for Asian content increase this year? (11 responses)

Have buyers from Asian broadcasters and platforms (free/pay/online/streaming) changed their acquisitions habits in 2021? “Yes, they are buying more BL content.” Jay Lin, CEO, Portico Media (Taiwan) “Yes, less investment and more licensing deals in play.” Agnes Rozario, Director, Content, Astro (Malaysia) “Yes, acquiring more OTT rights than traditional TV. Buyers now are looking at volume of content to fill their OTT services rather than one or two content for their TV timeslots.” Joe Suteestarpon, CEO, Mediaplex International (Thailand) “Yes, they are now open to more Asian content and mostly for streaming.” Tina B. Tubongbanua, Head of Licensing and Acquisitions, Viva Communications (Philippines) “There’s still demand for fresh content and request

Yes 100%

for more sub-licensing. However, slower response Tina B. Tubongbanua, Head of Licensing and Acquisitions, Viva Communications (Philippines)

compared to last year.”

Yes

Nattaporn Runghajornklin (Matt), VP - International

No

Not sure

the demandcoming coming from? (11 responses) Where Where is theis demand from? (11 responses)

Business, BEC World (Thailand)

African platforms

“Yes, more Asian topic focused, much more willing to try other foreign ver-

Latin American platforms

sions from around the world, not just English speaking. Netflix’s top ten in Asia has proven this for example.” Sonia Fleck, CEO, Bomanbridge Media

Is there any specific market or market segment in Asia that has risen in significance for you as a rights holder/distributor since the beginning of 2021? “Japanese streaming and distributors” Jay Lin, CEO, Portico Media (Taiwan)

18%

27%

Middle East platforms

9%

U.K. platforms

9%

European platforms

U.S./Canada only platforms

27%

9%

Asian platforms

63.6%

Global/Regional SVOD Streaming platforms (Netflix, Disneyt+, Amazon Prime, Viu etc)

“Korea- and China-originated content - as the rights are being held back

81.8%

Source: ContentAsia’s Distributors Poll (July 2021), 11 executives from six countries (Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan) participated

by OTTs from China who produce or invest in content.” Agnes Rozario, Director, Content, Astro (Malaysia) “China, great volume of programme buying.” Ryuji Komiya, Team

“China - due to the launch of two big online streaming platforms WeTV

Leader / Head of Format, Fuji Television (Japan)

and iQiyi in the region. Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia - launching of a regional platform.” Tina B. Tubongbanua, Head of Licensing and Acquisi-

“North Asia such as Japan, China and Taiwan. I think the

tions, Viva Communications (Philippines)

acquisition approach is slightly changed from traditional TV to online platforms. There’s always room

“Japan with Boy Love genre” Nattaporn Runghajornklin (Matt),

for new content on OTT platforms and Thai drama is

VP - International Business, BEC World (Thailand)

always in the streamers’ priority buy list. OTT platforms would buy some Thai dramas to test and they would always be back for more.” Joe Sutee-

“China, Thailand and Philippines” Sonia Fleck, CEO, Bomanbridge Media

starpon, CEO, Mediaplex International (Thailand) Joe Suteestarpon, CEO Mediaplex International (Thailand)

16

contentasia september 2021


https:/ www.warnermedia.com/sg

ht ps:/ w w.warnermedia.com/sg

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productioninterview

Brave hearts The Mole

Sonia Fleck’s Bomanbridge is backing North Korean undercover documentary, The Mole: Undercover in North Korea, in Asia Pacific (ex Japan) in a deal with Danish director Mads Brügger and Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s DR. Fleck’s move opens access to a real-life drama that has been called a most severe embarrassment ever to North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong Un.

What led you to The Mole?

What scares you most?

“Our head of acquisitions, Aegena Tay, came in on a Monday morning

“The U.N. officials told BBC the footage is ‘highly credible’.”

telling me in a sort of hushed and rushed manner that this docu feature film, The Mole was unbelievable – a “must see”. After watching it, and

Have you ever taken on anything similarly explosive before?

doing considerable research on this, I felt that it fits Bomanbridge’s criteria

“Not of this nature, no. True-life spy stories probably only come along

for edgy ground-breaking docufilms: 1) subject access; 2) purpose of

once every odd blue moons. This said, we are leaning into deep docu

storytelling; 3) production method and technique; and 4) audience

feature storytelling as part of our offering, and we are also currently

experience. I spoke with several key flagship producers around the

launching a 90-mins feature doc My Childhood My Country: 20 Years

world, who all knew the film and said it was on their top 10. With NHK’s

in Afghanistan. It’s a visually awesome and deeply moving story about

ratings in February 2021, it was clear we need to shepherd the story and

a young boy named Mir, whom our producers followed over 20 years

bring to the rest of Asia Pacific.”

to chart first hand the experience of growing up in Afghanistan since 2001... It’s amazing to see how strong a response we can receive off

What about the show most attracted you?

these cutting edge docu features – an incredibly satisfying experience

“The film is a 10-year complex strong operation/undercover true spy

for distribution. Films like The Mole and My Childhood My Country are

story. The bizarre mix of real life characters: an out-of-work Danish chef

rare.”

out to expose North Korean dictatorships, a Spanish propagandist who likes to wear military uniform, and a former French legionnaire and

Did the show’s performance on NHK in Japan influence you at all?

convicted felon who puts on the best acting of his life by pretending to

“NHK broadcast the full feature in February 2021 with over 50% increase

be a billionaire with a penchant for intercontinental missiles… well, it’s a

in ratings, and an enormous amount of social media chatter, impressions

story that is well worth the watch.”

and qualitative feedback. So much so, that NHK will be doing a theatrical

18

contentasia september 2021


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caption xxxxxxx

release per viewer demand at a later date. Of course, seeing this success on NHK, as well as on BBC for a primetime slot are always great indicators the show will perform brilliantly.” How would you describe the state of factual programming in Asia at the moment? “With the Covid-related delays, factual content has been filling gaps on many schedules. We had a great year on factual sales within Asia although, I would still say factual in Asia is at a bit of a crossroads. With the mergers and channels refocusing strategy, we can see on the one hand there is more opportunity coming for co-productions and original development. On the other hand, many platforms seem somewhat unclear on what they want exactly. We are looking for both regionally strong storytelling with hard to access subjects, such as local true crime and other mystery narratives. But again, it isn’t easy to find the right dose of edginess with more conforming comfort zones. It’s exciting to see local

With the mergers and channels refocusing strategy, we can see on the one hand there is more opportunity coming for co-productions and original development, but on the other hand, many platforms seem somewhat unclear on what they want exactly.” Sonia Fleck, Chief Executive Officer, Bomanbridge Media

factual in Asia beginning to push the boundaries now in the pursuit of more dynamic and exploratory stories.” Have you sold it anywhere/where will it air in Asia? What would you most like to see happen in Asia’s factual space?

“The Mole has received offers both pan regionally and on local

“We want to see more co-productions where stories from Asia can entertain

territories; we are working closely with co-producer Danish Broadcasting

the world. As part of our initiative we are entering into development deals

Corporation’s DR and director Mads Brugger to find the right client

with producers to create a healthy pipeline of projects.”

relationships to ensure the loudest soundboard for The Mole’s amazing story. Stay tuned!”

20

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productioninterview

Stream catchers

Acting Masterclass With Anupam Kaushik Borah, Reeldrama

India has upwards of 450 million unique streaming viewers a month, 58 million paying SVOD subs, and a burgeoning community of OTT players serving regional language audiences. Vanita KohliKhandekar looks at the next generation of operators discovering their voices online. Fissa is about ACP Ranjan’s investigation of a murder that has a strange connection with fish. The Assamese series, along with others, has drawn 90,000 downloads on Reeldrama. Of these, about 8,000 people pay anywhere from Rs299/US$4 (for three months) to Rs900/US$12 (for a year) to watch films and shows such as Fissa or Paak Ghar, a cookery show on

454 million in February 2021, according to Comscore India data. Over the same period, revenues almost doubled from US$769 million to US$1.45 billion, says Media Partners Asia (MPA). The surprise has been the growth in subscription – India now has 58 million paying OTT subs.

Assamese cuisine. Those are nice numbers for a streaming app that is

If you wonder why the biggies – Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Dis-

barely six months old and in a language that just over 15 million Indians

ney+ Hotstar – are missing from this party; they aren’t. Some, such as

speak.

Amazon Prime Video and Zee5, have been investing in languages other

Reeldrama is, along with Olly Plus (Odia), Aha (Telugu), The Stage

than Hindi. Others like Netflix have been slow to join. Its first non-Hindi film,

(Haryanvi), Hoichoi (Bengali), Planet Marathi, Koode (Malayalam) or

Firebrand (Marathi) came in 2019, more than three years after it entered

Oho Gujarati, among the dozens of new streaming apps rushing to fill the gaping hole in language offerings online. “We routinely get e-mails and messages on social media - of appreciation or because people want more content,” says Kuheli

India. “Two years back we started pitching concepts in Malayalam to platforms but unfortunately the language was not on anyone’s radar. Many of the creators were unhappy about not getting access to a platform. So we iden-

Dasgupta, director, Reeldrama. which

tified some and are now working with

has plans to offer more shows and

them,” says Radhakrishnan Ramach-

films from other states like Tripura and

andran, founder and CEO of Studio

Manipur.

Mojo on why he set up Koode late

Scrolling down the list of India’s

in 2020.

60+ streaming video apps, the country’s diversity is on full display. As the market for online drama

Since the larger platforms aim for maximum reach, their ability to get into dialects, genres or local issues

and series booms, “proliferation (of

with some degree of depth does not

languages) was bound to happen,”

always match that of single language

says Vishnu Mohta, executive director,

OTTs such as Koode or Niri9 (Assamese).

SVF, and co-founder of Hoichoi.

“The reason you watch Danish or Ice-

The number of unique visitors to streaming platforms rose from 277 million in 2018, to over

22

Haahit Petor Bikh

contentasia september 2021


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productioninterview

Fissa

landic shows is because of their nativity. If we do a show based on Kan-

in 2008 and Maa TV in 2015 to build its non-Hindi business.

yakumari, it will be really based in Kanyakumari. It will be relevant to

This forced the biggies to up their game.

the soil, the dialect. The Tirunelveli dialect is different from the Chennai

“Given the number of languages India has, the option for one lan-

dialect and from others in Tamil Nadu. It is this authenticity that makes it

guage OTT always exists. The questions are around long-term econom-

(different language offerings) sustainable,” says B. Srinivasan, managing

ics and the evolution of the local content ecosystem to support that

director, Ananda Vikatan Group.

growth,” says Vijay Subramaniam, Amazon Prime Video’s director and

Vikatan had been making shows (Thirumathi Selvam and Kolangal) for Sun TV for over two decades. In 2020 it went digital with daily show Vallamai Tharayo on YouTube, picked up and dubbed by ETV (Telugu) and Flowers TV (Malayalam). Meanwhile Disney+ Hotstar, which Vikatan had approached four years ago, commissioned November Story, about a celebrated crime novelist with Alzheimer’s found at a murder scene with no memory of what happened. His daughter’s attempt to unravel the truth got a phenomenal rating of 8 on IMDB. Much of this deep localising is

content head. Amazon Prime Video offers eight Indian languages and has been aggressively building its non-Hindi library. He has a point. Dasgupta talks about the issues with acquiring shows and films from Manipur, Tripura and other states. So do other OTTs and broadcasters. The production ecosystem in many languages, such as Odia or Punjabi, is not robust like it is in Hindi or Tamil. There aren’t enough line producers, technicians, writers and crew members. As more OTTs rush in, the situation will remain difficult until an ecosystem develops. For now, audience numbers for regional-language

streaming

reminiscent of broadcast televi-

platforms are small, with none

sion. The first moves to offer pro-

on any top 10 lists. But they can’t

gramming in languages other

be ruled out.

than Hindi came from local en-

As past video entertainment

trepreneurs like Kalanithi Maran

environments

(Sun TV, Tamil, 1993) or Ramoji

showed,

Rao (Eenadu TV, Telugu, 1995). Later Zee, Star and Viacom18 en-

in

regional

India

have

languages

have the power to rise up and dominate.

tered the game. Some, such as Zee, built organically. Others bought out local entrepreneurs. Star, for instance, acquired Asianet

24

Xadhukothar Kuki

contentasia september 2021


ATF ONLINE+

1 DEC 2021 – 30 JUN 2022

MARINA BAY SANDS, SINGAPORE 1 – 3 DEC 2021

Produced by:

ln the business of building businesses

An event of:

Co-located with:

Hosted by:

www.asiatvforum.com In Support of:

Held in conjunction with:

Held in:

Supported by:


productioninterview

Script rewrite Bell Bottom

India’s cinema bosses are moving beyond the pandemic with the view that OTT and direct-tostreaming film releases are just more elements in an expanded ecosystem... and not the voracious opportunistic giants that gobbled up their world. JD, a professor battling alcoholism, is sent to teach at a juvenile reform

pandemic hit. PVR, for instance, has seen its revenues plummet to 10% of

school for three months. Feature film, Master, is the story of his clash

March 2020. You could argue that Bijli and Tandon are speaking from the

with Bhavani, who uses the students as a cover for his crimes. Lokesh

pulpit. Maybe they are.

Kangaraj’s high-voltage action drama became an overnight hit on its

Speak then to David Hancock, chief analyst, media and entertainment,

theatrical release in India in January 2021, grossing over US$40 million at

at the U.K.-based media analytics firm Omdia, and author of a report on

the box office. Master is not just a ‘scream your guts out in the theatre’

the Cinema Landscape in 2021. Global box office fell from US$26 billion

kinda film. It is, along with Jathi Ratnalu, The Priest, Karnan and others, a

in 2019 to US$3.7 billion in 2020, wiping out 71%.

good reason to junk the ‘OTT has killed the movie business’ argument.

But, “cinema chains haven’t gone bust, only three (New Vision Theatres

The films were released between October 2020 and March this year,

in the U.S., MBO in Malaysia and UA Cinemas in Hong Kong) have shut

when theatres re-opened in India.

down,” Hancock says. Of the 84 releases from Hollywood studios this

“Watching a film is in our DNA. [Unlike people elsewhere in the world] we don’t go trekking or biking; we eat, shop, watch a movie; it is at the top of the pecking order among entertainment needs,” says Alok Tandon, CEO of Indian theatre chain Inox Leisure.

year, 54, including Top Gun: Maverick and No Time to Die, have been held back for the second half of 2021. That brings us to the first reason why streaming replacing theatrical is difficult, if not impossible.

“If you are sitting at home, you will order food from outside [and watch

One, cinema screens bring in over 60% of the US$2.7 billion that Indian

something on a streaming platform]. But look at Black Widow, Fast and

films earned in 2019. Theatrical performance impacts the price of every

Furious 9 [recently released and doing well in the U.K. and the U.S.]...

other revenue stream – TV, OTT, overseas. For example, on television,

I am positive. We have been forced to stay indoors because of the

films are the second most popular genre, accounting for almost 25% of

pandemic,” adds PVR Cinemas’ chairman, Ajay Bijli.

all viewing in India. In 2019 broadcasters paid US$306 million or about

At 648 and 842 screens respectively, INOX and PVR are India’s largest

12% of cinema revenues for the rights to screen films. This is estimated

theatre chains. More than two-thirds of Indian cinema revenues –

to have brought them three times as much in advertising money. If a

read that as the entire box-office – was wiped out last year when the

film has been exposed on a streaming platform first, its ability to attract

26

contentasia september 2021


AND THE WINNERS ARE...

Best 2D Animated Kids TV Programme Tish Tash Studio Gale / Big Crunch Entertainment / EBS

Best 3D Animated Kids TV Programme Ejen Ali Misi: Juang Primeworks Studios / WAU Animation

Best Kids TV Programme (non-animated) Shimajiro: A World of WOW! – Our Oceans Benesse / Dash / The Answerstudio (Japan)

Best Factual Programme Ancient China From Above National Geographic / China Intercontinental Communication

Best Factual Programme (Covid-19) Virus Hunting: Cave to Covid Beach House Pictures for Smithsonian Channel

Best Current Affairs Programme Tears of the Dragon Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific / Yunji Media

Best Factual Entertainment Programme Into The Wild with Bear Grylls and Akshay Kumar Discovery Communications India / Discovery Channel / Banijay Asia and The Natural Studios

Best Asian Talk Show Hear U Out Mediacorp Singapore

Best Asian Comedy Programme Adventure Of The Ring HBO / WarnerMedia / Good Image

Best Asian Original Game Show Otoraction Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (TBS), Japan

Best Original Song for a TV Series/ Programme or Movie Please Come Back To Me (Nont Tanont), My Forever Sunshine BEC World / Channel 3 / Chandelier Music (Thailand)

Best TV Format Adaptation (Non-scripted) The Masked Singer Malaysia Measat Broadcast Network Systems, Astro Malaysia / Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), South Korea

Best TV Format Adaptation (Scripted) Humans China Banijay Rights

Best Short-form drama (<20 mins per episode) The Miracle Barbershop Viddsee

Best LGBTQ+ Programme Made in Asia A Tale of Thousand Stars GMMTV Thailand

Best Asian Feature Film or Telemovie Kill for Love Studio76 Original Productions Even Creative Studio Taiwan Mobile myVideo (Taiwan)

Best Director of a Scripted TV Programme Tommy Dewo (Serigala Terakhir) Vidio / Screenplay Productions, Indonesia

Best Drama Series/Telefilm Made for A Single Asian Market To Me, It’s Simply You (Mon Rak Nong Pak Kayang) BEC World / Channel 3 / Do Entertainment (Thailand)

Best Asian Drama Series for a Regional/ Int’l Market Criminal Justice - Behind Closed Doors Applause Entertainment & Disney+ Hotstar

Best Male Lead in a TV Programme Abimana Aryasatya (as Alex in Serigala Terakhir) Vidio / Screenplay Productions, Indonesia

Best Female Lead in a TV Programme Kimberley Anne Woltemas (as Pilardluck / Duanyard in The Unidentical Twins) BEC World / Channel 3 / Maker Group (Thailand)

www.contentasiaawards.com Contact: awards@contentasia.tv ContentAsia Awards is operated by


productioninterview

83

advertising goes down.

However, more flexible windows does not mean that windows are dead

Why then do broadcasters pay that kind of money?

or undesirable. The theatrical experience sits above the others in impact,”

Cinema is part of an ecosystem that stretches across formats, geogra-

says Hancock. This narrowing then makes the theatrical window, which

phies and audiences; OTT is one part of that ecosystem. Without theatres

brings in 60% of the revenue, even more important.

fully revived, the ecosystem doesn’t function. And streaming cannot re-

The third reason is that streaming has segmented both the formats

place 60% of the business. Until 2019, streaming brought in 10% of the rev-

on which we see films and the kind of films we watch, creating new

enue that theatrical did. Last year, although digital revenues doubled,

opportunities for theatrical.

business still fell.

“People have made up their minds what they will watch on each of

“Movies and OTT tell two different stories – one is over three hours and

these formats. Bigger films will do well in the theatre and smaller on OTT.

the other over 5-10 hours. It is impossible to tell the story of Applause Enter-

Between the Southern languages and Hindi, there are some very big

tainment’s Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story (a critically acclaimed

movies up for release – KGF2, RRR, Radhe Shyam, Sooryavanshi, Laal Singh

series on SonyLIV) in two hours. These are two different and robust busi-

Chaddha, Brahmastra,” points out Shailesh Kapoor, CEO, Ormax Media.

nesses. Look at it in continuum – free-to-air TV, OTT, pay TV, film – all will

One estimate says 40 tentpole films are awaiting a theatrical release.

have robust growth,” says Danish Khan, business head, Sony Entertainment Television, SonyLIV & Studio Next, Sony Pictures Networks. What changes is the windowing or the gap between release in theatres, TV and streaming/OTT.

Also, “OTT has aided exposure to cinema in other (Indian) languages, that is the biggest change because of Covid,” says Kapoor. Thanks to high-quality dubbing and subtitling, Malayalam films are finding a market in the North, Hindi and Marathi films in the South. This creates a com-

That brings us to the second reason theatrical is here to stay. The case

pletely new market for a multilingual film or a ‘domestic crossover’ that

for narrowing the gap for streaming/home video release after theatrical

leverages the huge volumes (over a billion tickets sold every year) and

from an average of 90 days (in the U.S.) has strengthened as studios such

the heterogeneity of India. Ormax tracking shows that seven or eight of

as Disney move to OTT.

the upcoming pan-Indian multilingual films alone could earn box office

“Covid-19 has changed the balance of power and a more flexible windowing system will be a long-lasting effect. Digital releasing will become more widespread, including some day-and-date with cinemas.

28

of between US$94 million to US$134 million. As Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India puts it; “We are one blockbuster away from recovery”.

contentasia september 2021


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