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MIPTV & APOS EDITION
OTT & On-Demand Platforms / ZEE’s Subhash Chandra / Astro’s Rohana Rozhan
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14 By Popular Demand Channels, pay-TV platforms and distributors are finding both pitfalls and rewards as they traverse Asia’s nonlinear content business.
Among upwardly mobile, tech-savvy citizens in markets like Hong Kong and Singapore, the latest status symbol is not an overpriced Prada handbag or a gold iPhone; it’s aVPN connection and a Netflix account. Ricardo Seguin Guise Publisher Mansha Daswani Editor Kristin Brzoznowski Managing Editor Joanna Padovano Associate Editor Joel Marino Assistant Editor Simon Weaver Online Director Victor L. Cuevas Production & Design Director Phyllis Q. Busell Art Director Cesar Suero Sales & Marketing Director Faustyna Hariasz Sales & Marketing Coordinator Terry Acunzo Business Affairs Manager
Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV AsiaPac © 2014 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.tvasia.ws
VPNs—virtual private networks—are de rigueur amongst those seeking to get around geoblocking by the likes of Netflix, which has not indicated any plans to come to Asia in the immediate future, or Hulu, which is only available in Japan. It’s not piracy in the sense we’ve come to understand it in Asia— illegal set-top boxes that are hijacking channel signals, torrents being traded, street markets filled with bootlegged DVDs—because those Netflix and Hulu Plus subscriptions are actually being paid for.Those being hurt, though, are the channels and platforms in the region that are investing heavily to secure Asian rights to top-notch Western content, only to see that programming being viewed elsewhere. So why go through the effort of bypassing your local content provider? For many it’s a matter of not wanting to have to wait anywhere from three to six months for your favorite show to make its way from foreign airwaves to yours (if it makes it at all). And in an era when viewers are increasingly tweeting and discussing their favorite shows in real time, the likelihood of reading a spoiler the second you go online is extremely high. (As I know well, after having a major plot point in The Walking Dead ruined for me while I was traveling in Asia recently!) The need for day-and-date premieres and shorter windows was clear amongst the platforms I spoke with in my report on over-the-top and on-demand services in this issue. Platforms like Astro and channel operators such as FOX International Channels are leading the charge in this segment, which is still very much in its infancy across the region. I also heard from stand-alone OTT players like Viki and Youku Tudou about new business models and their approach to content acquisitions as they go up against established pay-TV platforms. All of these new players, meanwhile, are translating into a raft of new opportunities for distributors, especially with niche content that historically has struggled to make it on to more traditional broadcasters. This edition for APOS and MIPTV also includes ZEE’s Subhash Chandra on the digitization of India’s pay-TV business; Astro CEO Rohana Rozhan on that platform’s TV Everywhere initiatives; Beryl Yan discussing Hunan TV’s programming strategy; and Joon Lee on the latest developments at FOX International Channels. —Mansha Daswani
INTERVIEWS 24 ZEE’s Subhash Chandra
26 Astro’s Rohana Rozhan
28 FIC’s Joon Lee
30 Hunan’s Beryl Yan
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ABC Commercial • Kids on Speed? • Fashion Asia • Opera Australia on Sydney Harbour The three-part series Kids on Speed? follows four families struggling to cope with children suspected of having or diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It also focuses on a clinical psychologist who believes his cutting-edge intervention program can change their lives.The ABC Commercial highlight will be available for buyers, as will the 13-part series Fashion Asia. “Asia is the newest fashion hub of the world and this series captures the very latest in fashion, design, art and youth culture from the streets of 13 cities in Asia and Australia,” says Sharon RamsayLuck, the head of sales and business development at ABC Commercial. “It has it all covered, from quirky hotels to upand-coming jewelry designers, from fashion-focused technology to street style.” Also of note is Opera Australia on Sydney Harbour.
“Our focus will be to showcase our diverse new slate of programs and to meet with potential producers to discuss new programming and acquisition opportunities.” —Sharon Ramsay-Luck Fashion Asia
ABS-CBN International Distribution • Got to Believe • No Greater Love • The Legal Wife
Romantic dramas are what ABS-CBN International Distribution is pushing for MIPTV, starting with Got to Believe. “It stars the Philippines’ hottest young love team and owes its charm to its unique blend of comedy, magic and interesting plot twists,” says Evelyn Raymundo, the company’s VP of integrated program acquisitions and international distribution. No Greater Love, meanwhile, traces how true love finds it way across time and in spite of social standing. The story is set against the backdrop of Central Philippines’ elite sugar barons and the “sakadas” (plantation workers), spanning more than 50 years and important periods in the nation’s history. The LegalWife is a contemporary drama that poses the question of how far a woman should go to fight for her marriage. It stars Jericho Rosales (The Promise) and Angel Locsin (She-Wolf ).
“Romance is both timeless and universal, as it is the lynchpin for most of the world’s greatest stories.” —Evelyn Raymundo Got to Believe
Astro • Astro On the Go • Astro B.yond Astro is continuing to innovate the ways in which its 3.2 million customers can interact with its content. On the heels of the strong reception to the Astro B.yond service, with 1.7 million customers subscribing to HD channels and 600,000 taking the PVR box, Astro is drumming up interest in its OTT platform, Astro On the Go. “We do over 10,000 hours of production every year,” says CEO Rohana Rozhan. “That bodes well for us because we can initially underpin our OTT product with our own content IP.” Investing in original content remains a key strategy for Astro, Rozhan notes, with the platform operating 68 branded channels for which it is producing a range of local programming.“Four out of every five hours of viewing for our customers at home is on our linear channels,” Rozhan says.
“We are creators, we are producers, we are aggregators, we are distributors.” —Rohana Rozhan Astro On the Go 396 World Screen 4/14
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CJ E&M Corporation • Emergency Couple • Cheo-Yong: The Paranormal Detective • Mnet Asian Music Awards The romantic comedy Emergency Couple follows a divorced man and woman who must learn how to work together in the ER of a hospital six years after their separation. This is one of the highlights that CJ E&M Corporation is bringing to MIPTV, along with Cheo-Yong: The Paranormal Detective, which is about a man who uses his ability to interact with ghosts to solve crimes. “Since sci-fi and supernatural themes have been popular in many regions, this drama can appeal to the international market,” says Diane Min, the company’s sales manager. Also on this year’s slate is the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA). “As Asia’s biggest music awards ceremony, MAMA brings Asia’s music to the world,” adds Min.
“There is a strong need for Korean dramas in Vietnam.” Cheo-Yong: The Paranormal Detective
FINAS • Feature films • Documentaries • Animation The Malaysian government has placed a concerted effort on increasing the country’s visibility in the media and entertainment market. The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) has also continued to increase its efforts in promoting this sector at MIPTV and other related events to showcase the quality and diversity of Malaysia’s content industry. The delegation at MIPTV this year will be co-organized by FINAS, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). There will be more than 25 companies attending MIPTV with the delegation, including outfits featuring animation and documentary programming.
FOX International Channels • FOX Sports Asia • Play • Nat Geo People
Last year, FOX International Channels (FIC) launched FOX Sports Asia. “In 2014, we will continue to invest in FOX Sports Asia, in everything from the on-air presentation to marketing to launching more local feeds, to solidify its position as the leading TV network for sports fans across the region,” says Joon Lee, the executive VP of content and communications for the Asia Pacific and Middle East at FIC. In the nonlinear space, FIC is working closely with its affiliate partners to build up the on-demand service Play, and the goal is to make it available in more places across the region. FIC is also proud of the latest addition to its National Geographic network, Nat Geo People. “It will be the ultimate destination channel for travel and food lovers,” says Lee.
“We want to offer an alternative viewing experience and the flexibility to our viewers to consume content how they want to.” —Joon Lee The French Open on FOX Sports Asia 398 World Screen 4/14
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FremantleMedia International • Lindsay • Jamaica Inn • The X Factor UK
The troubled Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan takes center stage in Lindsay, a new docuseries for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network that FremantleMedia International is presenting in Cannes. “With all of the global interest in Lindsay Lohan, Lindsay is set to be compelling viewing,” says Paul Ridley, the company’s senior executive VP of sales and distribution for the Asia Pacific. “The global media are constantly reporting on the star’s antics, and this documentary is the first time that audiences worldwide will get an unflinching look into the life of this very much sought-after celebrity.” Also on this year’s MIPTV slate is the drama Jamaica Inn, an adaptation of the classic Daphne du Maurier novel set in 1820 that stars Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey, Labyrinth) and Matthew McNulty (The Paradise, Room at the Top). “There is constant demand for top-quality British drama and Jamaica Inn is just that,” says Ridley.“Featuring a wealth of current and emerging stars and a top team of production talent, this gothic and gritty drama is sure to be in high demand.” FremantleMedia International believes that both of these titles will appeal to buyers in the Asia Pacific, and also has high hopes for The X Factor UK in the region. “Since it originally launched, The X Factor UK has consistently performed well on ITV and we’re confident that it will have the same appeal internationally,” says Ridley.
“We’re finding that our high-quality ‘one-stop-shop’ content is selling to an increasing range of platforms, providing us more opportunities to exploit our great content.” Lindsay
HBO Asia • HBO GO • Serangoon Road HBO Asia has achieved many new milestones recently.The online streaming service HBO GO was launched in the Philippines in March, making it the second Asian territory the service is available in, after Hong Kong. Also in March, Cinemax HD was made available in Singapore. Additionally, the company recently expanded its footprint to include Myanmar, with the flagship HBO channel now distributed in 23 territories throughout the Asia Pacific. HBO Asia also recently started engaging in coproductions, including on the prime-time series Serangoon Road, a detective drama set in the 1960s.“Serangoon Road was so successful that we are working on another HBO Asia original production that will premiere on our channel in Asia later this year,” says Magdalene Ew, the company’s head of marketing, creative and content. HBO Asia is headed into production on Grace, a four-part horror miniseries in Mandarin and English. Ew adds, “We continue to provide customized services for Asia through localizing our programming, not only by providing local subtitles, but also offering dual-language audio options. A recent example is where local celebrities in Malaysia and Indonesia lent their voices to Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted.” Ew also mentions how HBO originals are now premiering one week after the U.S. on the Asian linear channels, while subscribers of HBO GO can watch the latest episodes 12 hours after their U.S. broadcast.
“We are constantly evaluating and reviewing new platforms and opportunities in Asia and will continue to develop more HBO Asia original productions.” Serangoon Road 400 World Screen 4/14
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Rewind Networks • HITS Rewind Networks launched its maiden venture, HITS, in Singapore at the end of 2013. The company is now working closely with pay-TV operators across the region to bring HITS to their subscribers in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.The basictier channel delivers hit shows from the last three decades such as The Cosby Show, Seinfeld and Criminal Minds in HD for the first time in Asia. “Rewind Networks’ goals are simple: providing the very best in content, an extremely intuitive viewing schedule with daily strips and weekend stacks, world-class channel packaging as well as catch-up and TV Everywhere capabilities,” says Avi Himatsinghani, the founder and CEO of Rewind Networks.“All of these aspects culminate in giving TV watchers the most optimal viewing experience in whatever environment they’re in.”
“We like to say that we have all hits and no misses.” —Avi Himatsinghani Criminal Minds on HITS
Scripps Networks International • Asian Food Channel • Food Network • Travel Channel
Scripps Networks International has been working to develop clear programming and branding strategies for Asian Food Channel (AFC), Food Network and Travel Channel in the Asia Pacific.The company has also been focused on expanding distribution for these networks throughout the region. In the past year, Scripps Networks International launched AFC in Taiwan andVietnam,Travel Channel in the Philippines and Food Network in Thailand.“We’re looking to build on that momentum across our portfolio as well as to increase our presence in key markets like Vietnam and Indonesia,” says Derek Chang, the company’s managing director for the Asia Pacific. In terms of programming, Chang highlights the AFC original The Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines, and Food Network has a localized version of The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
“We’re particularly excited about the AFC original production Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines, hosted by chef Sherson Lian.” —Derek Chang The Amazing Food Challenge: Fun in the Philippines on AFC
Telefilm Vietnam • June 5 to 7, 2014 Telefilm Vietnam is an annual international film, television and technology exhibition situated in Vietnam. The market attracts some 5,000 attendees from the media and entertainment industry each year, with 300-plus exhibitors from Japan, Malaysia, Denmark,Thailand, Korea and more.This year marks TelefilmVietnam’s second installment, to be held from June 5 to 7 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in Ho Chi Minh City. Telefilm Vietnam services clients and potential investors interested in buying and selling TV dramas, documentaries, films, animation and other content. The Vietnamese market is home to more than 300 channels on cable, satellite, terrestrial and IPTV platforms, and is eager to import, export and co-produce high-quality digital content to meet the needs of the growing market.
Telefilm Vietnam 402 World Screen 4/14
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Nippon Television’s The Pride of the Temp.
DEMAND Channels, pay-TV platforms and distributors are finding both pitfalls and rewards as they traverse Asia’s nonlinear content business. BY MANSHA DASWANI here was a time in the not-so-distant past when the prospect of selling an American or British drama into China for nationwide broadcast was utterly inconceivable. Today, the 300 million or so unique users of China’s leading online video platforms, Youku and Tudou, can access Netflix’s edgy women’s prison series Orange Is the New Black and BBC’s plot-twisty Sherlock, among a wave of other Western shows, on the device of their choosing whenever they want to. Youku and Tudou, which merged in 2012, represent just one side of a rapidly evolving landscape of over-the-top (OTT) television providers across the Asia Pacific using a variety of models to build viable nonlinear businesses. Results for many of these players have been mixed, as some recent headlines can attest to: At the end of February,Youku
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Tudou reported its first-ever profit. That same week, U.S. OTT platform Hulu said it was selling off its Japanese ser vice—less than three years after entering the country. “We have now reached a point in the growth of the business in Japan where we feel the best path forward is to sell the company to a strategic buyer,” CEO Mike Hopkins said in announcing the sale to free-to-air broadcaster Nippon Television Network. It is, clearly, still early days for OTT and on-demand in Asia and, as a recent report from Media Partners Asia indicated, “revenue generation is pitiful—but there is future potential.” The potential, of course, comes from an expanding middle class, rising broadband penetration rates, faster Internet speeds and, as evidenced by increasing pay-TV takeup, a greater willingness to pay a premium for instant, convenient access to content.
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GMA Worldwide, which represents a portfolio of Filipino dramas like the new series Footsteps of a Mermaid, is keen to expand its dealings with the crop of OTT platforms across Asia.
The potential to boost average revenue per user (ARPU) was among the many factors Astro, Malaysia’s dominant payTV platform, took into consideration when investing in its OTT strategy. “We took some bold decisions a couple of years ago,” says CEO Rohana Rozhan on Astro’s decision to upgrade its infrastructure. “That comes with being a market leader. You can either try to milk the position you’re in or you can use it as an opportunity to reinvent yourself so that you will be a deserving market leader going forward.That’s what we did.We felt that we had to transition our product and content proposition to actually be relevant to not only households, but to individuals within the household, especially in a young economy like Malaysia.The demand for content and accessibility to content— the mobility aspect, the interactive aspect, the anywhere on any device aspect—is prevalent. We monitor the trends in terms of technology rollouts, the proliferation rate of devices, content consumption trends—these are things we cannot ignore.” Astro swapped out most of its old set-top boxes with new ones so that it could deliver its B.yond service, delivering HD, PVR functionality and on-demand. It then launched Astro On the Go, an OTT service allowing customers to watch content on the device of their choosing. At present, Astro On the Go has about 500,000 active users, watching an average of almost 90 minutes of content weekly.“We understand that we’re in the initial stages, but we have all these encouraging statistics,” Rozhan says. “There’s momentum behind it.Year on year, quarter on quarter, we’re seeing increased takeup.” FOX International Channels (FIC) also opted to invest in OTT ahead of its competitors, building an authenticated online player for its FOX Movies Premium channel and following that up with similar services for SCM (STAR Chinese Movies) and, this March, FOX Sports. 406 World Screen 4/14
“In recognition of changing consumer behavior towards ondemand and anywhere, anytime and multiscreen, it was important for FIC to be a first mover in the online player space so as to serve both consumers and our affiliates better,” says Alex Lambeek, the executive VP of affiliate partnerships and syndication at FIC Asia Pacific, the region’s largest pay-TV channel operator. “In addition, being early has put us [ahead] on a steep learning curve, which we believe will serve us well going forward.” PLAY TIME
Initial response to FOX Movies Play, which has been in the market since 2012, has been “better than expected,” observes Brian Lau, the group’s senior VP of Hollywood movie channels, acquisitions and digital, with about 300,000 downloads of the app to date. Lau concedes that the process of building out the players has not been without a few hurdles along the way. “Implementing the authentication of our players with our affiliate partners is a challenging process because it requires a great deal of coordination between both parties, so there’s a lot of effort expended to keep projects rolling. However, once the player is launched with an affiliate partner, the rewards for both sides have proven to be well worth the effort.” “It’s challenging to transition from a pure linear broadcast, using satellite or an IP pipe, to actually going over the top,” agrees Astro’s Rozhan. “You have to cater to different customers viewing over different devices and over the different bandwidths, and try to optimize the individual experience—not to mention the cost. We’re doing that from a technology and platform perspective. Our customer and content group tries to understand behavior—what resonates, who our potential OTT customers are, and what they want to watch. I think we would be missing the plot completely if all we did is replicate what we do on our linear broadcast platform.We now have to embrace the more personal,
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CJ E&M has made a broad range of content available on Viki for global audiences to consume online, including the drama Who Are You.
individual experience in addition to the household experience. We suddenly have to build a fit-for-purpose portfolio of content, products and services to cater to each and every individual on the go.” CACHE OF CONTENT
Astro’s critical advantage, Rozhan says, is its content-creation capabilities. “The difference between us and a lot of other platforms is that we originate or own or have the rights to almost all the IP that make up our [local-language] channels. Of the 171 linear channels that we have, about 68 or so are our own. We do over 10,000 hours of production every year. That bodes well for us, because we can underpin our OTT product with our own IP.” Besides FIC, the other pan-regional channel group that has been active in the OTT space is HBO Asia, which has launched
HBO GO, HBO’s authenticated OTT service, is available in Hong Kong and the Philippines. 408 World Screen 4/14
a regional version of HBO GO—the online platform that has been a huge success in the U.S.—in Hong Kong with affiliate partner now TV. The platform provides access to more than 1,000 hours of original content within 12 hours of the U.S. broadcast. “This helps combat piracy and gives subscribers an opportunity to catch the newest episodes of their favorite shows earlier,” said HBO Asia CEO Jonathan Spink when the service premiered in Hong Kong last February. HBO GO expanded its reach with a launch in the Philippines in March. While the OTT space is currently being led by the major pay-TV incumbents, there are developments taking place on the free-TV side. Notable examples include MediaCorp in Singapore, which offers Toggle as an ad-supported OTT service, and Filipino broadcaster ABS-CBN with TFC.tv. The previously mentioned Nippon Television has acquired Hulu Japan and will license the platform’s brand and technology. The Japanese broadcaster will also feature its own content on the service. When announcing the deal, Nippon’s president,Yoshio Okubo, said that the move would allow the network to expand beyond terrestrial and broadcast satellite distribution. Then come the upstarts, those online-only platforms popping up across Asia, some targeting specific markets, others looking to appeal to a global base. China’s Youku Tudou is arguably the most well known of these newer entrants to Asia’s content-distribution space.Targeting China’s estimated 347 million Internet users,Youku, appealing to a mainstream audience, and Tudou, which skews slightly younger, have become major buyers of Western content, largely from the U.S. and the U.K., as well as Korean dramas and Japanese anime. These genres supplement the wealth of local content on the two platforms.
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FOX Movies Play is the online companion to the FOX Movies Premium channel, offering on-demand access to Hollywood movies, among them The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
Another major nonlinear player in China isYOU On Demand (YOD), which started on a small selection of cable operators before expanding more recently to OTT, IPTV and mobile. “Upon first launching in the cable-TV space, we quickly encountered technical challenges as there was seemingly no unified set of industry standards,” says Shane McMahon,YOD’s chairman, on the initial obstacles he faced in building out the platform. “A great deal of consulting between YOD and our cable partners was required before a proper launch of the service could occur. Also, as we launch into cable, IPTV, OTT and the mobile space, there is a lot of DRM [digital rights management] that is necessary to ensure that the content on YOU On Demand is protected. From a broader perspective, piracy and competition have been, and will always be, challenges.Whether it be DVDs or bit torrent sites, there is still a lot of accessible pirated content in China.YOU On Demand’s approach is to offer the best-quality content coupled with the best end-user experience, all offered at an attractive price.” YOU DECIDE
YOD offers customers the option to pay per title or to pay a monthly subscription fee. “Consumers expect to have access to all types of content, whether it be a subscription offering containing a large library of content for a monthly fee or a one-off transactional model to sample [what’s available],” McMahon says. “Additionally, Chinese consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay to view the latest Hollywood and Chinese movies [in the cinemas], as evidenced by the impressive boxoffice numbers. With the number of foreign titles permitted in Chinese theaters limited to 34 each year and the limited number of theaters in the country as a whole, there is a great opportunity to educate the market on the availability of even more premium content to be released on YOU On Demand’s TVOD [transactional VOD] and SVOD platforms.” China’s Youku Tudou may have finally made a profit this year, but the company’s management has admitted that it’s not all smooth sailing ahead. Indeed, the online video space in China is particularly crowded, with Sohu,Tencent and Baidu among the many other companies looking to serve viewers online. Sunny Zhu, chief content officer at Youku Tudou, told attendees at the Asia TV Forum in December that the greatest challenge the company faces is “revenue, revenue and revenue. The challenge is to monetize [our] traffic.” Youku Tudou operates on a free ad-supported model at present. Speaking to TV AsiaPac following his ATF keynote, 410 World Screen 4/14
Zhu noted the importance of diversifying the company’s revenue streams to encompass a potential subscriber model and interactive entertainment. “We need time to nurture the users into the habit [of paying for content],” Zhu said about the possibility of launching a fee-based service. “Interactive products are a natural extension of the viewers’ needs. If you like a celebrity, you may want to provide feedback online, for example by sending virtual flowers or blowing virtual kisses.These [micro-transactions] are value-added products made to cater to the audience’s needs.” Viki, which was born in Singapore but today operates as a global content platform, is also expanding its revenue stream beyond advertising. Last year, the site, now owned by Japanese Internet services company Rakuten, began offering a subscription service called Viki Pass, charging $3.99 per month for an ad-free, HD viewing experience. At present, according to CEO and co-founder Razmig Hovaghimian,Viki averages 24 million viewers a month watching more than 3 billion videos that are translated by the site’s users. “Asia now represents over 20 percent of the Viki viewership,” Hovaghimian says.Viki makes its money mostly by selling ads. “We have run successful campaigns with global brands such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Samsung and Toyota.Viki offers a very attractive value proposition for brands because of our highly targeted, engaged viewership, especially in markets where very little premium video inventory exists.” Another revenue source, in addition to the subscription offer, is content syndication to Netflix, Hulu and others, Hovaghimian says. MOBILE CALLS
For the standalone OTT operators surveyed for this article, mobile viewing presents a significant growth opportunity in the months ahead. Zhu atYouku Tudou says that last year “traffic from mobile devices surpassed our traffic from the PC end. [Since then] it has pretty much doubled.The Chinese people are watching movies and TV serials on mobile phones.” YOD, meanwhile, recently struck a partnership with Huawei that preloads the YOU Cinema app directly onto the mobile phone manufacturer’s Mate line of devices. Whether broadcast on PCs, tablets or mobile phones, OTT platforms need a strong, continuing supply of content. As such, leading program distributors are finding a wealth of new opportunities in the region. BBC Worldwide, for one, recently entered into a deal with Sohu in China consisting of dramas
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Youku Tudou is acquiring the rights to numerous American and British dramas for streaming in China, including BBC Worldwide’s Sherlock.
like Ripper Street and Sinbad, plus a range of documentaries. FremantleMedia International has closed volume deals with Youku Tudou, which acquired 202 hours, and Toggle, which snapped up 580 hours. ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) has similarly seen a boost in its on-demand and OTT deals, closing agreements with EMAS and KLfive in Malaysia and Toggle in Singapore.The opportunities for Asian content owners, meanwhile, are also booming, as platforms look to differentiate themselves.The likes of CJ E&M, which represents a wealth of Korean content, and the Philippines’ GMA Worldwide, are looking to OTT platforms to expand the reach of their shows across Asia and beyond. “In North Asia—China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea—the digital market has become stable and therefore we no longer see big digital players launching,” observes Hyeonza Hong, the senior VP of sales for Asia at ITVS GE.“However, it has been an exciting time of growth for the Southeast Asian market. We are seeing increasing numbers of new digital platforms launching, such as Migo TV, KLfive and TuneBox as the demand for ‘content everywhere’ in the region increases.” NEW BUYERS
Ganesh Rajaram, executive VP of sales and distribution for Asia at FremantleMedia International (FMI), backs up Hong’s view. “We are seeing an abundance of new players in the digital platform space.There has been strong growth with OTT services all across the region, but there is a [particular] rise in Southeast Asia due to the constant developments in technology and mobile services. As the region is so diverse, there will be spike territories like China that will have a faster takeup of digital.” The content needs of these platforms are highly diverse. “It is like a buffet,” says Hong. “Most digital platforms provide an all-you-can-eat service to their subscribers in terms of genre: drama, TV movies, entertainment, nature, factual documentary and lifestyle. But since there are fewer censorship issues in the digital space, content that is a bit edgy, which is not usually available on the traditional platforms, is in demand.” Rajaram has seen interest in entertainment and reality shows like Project Runway, dramas such as Merlin and Hit & 412 World Screen 4/14
Miss and factual fare. “The expansion in the digital platform space has been advantageous for FMI, as we are now finding homes for some of our more niche content that may not necessarily work on traditional linear platforms.” Lau at FIC has observed a similar phenomenon; while Chinese and Hollywood blockbusters do very well on both the linear channels and the online players, “we have found dedicated audiences for series like The Walking Dead, Homeland or Ray Donovan on our player.We feel strongly that our Play services can become great destinations for fans of TV series, and as the rights landscape changes, we hope to move towards offering more of the binge-viewing experience that viewers are expecting. It’s clear this is the way people like to watch.” Indeed, when asked about negotiations with content owners, Lau notes, “The main issue right now is expanding the rights for TV series, because there should be more episodes made available at any one time.” RIGHTS MANAGEMENT
Distributors are reluctant to speak on the record about how much money new OTT platforms are willing to cough up, or about how much extra traditional broadcasters are paying to secure access to all the nonlinear rights. A key element in many negotiations is timing—a number of platforms are seeking to premiere top American and British shows shortly after their launch in the home markets.Youku, for example, reportedly paid a premium to be able to deliver Orange Is the New Black the day after the series premiered on Netflix; ditto with BBC Worldwide’s Sherlock. Rozhan says that Astro’s strong relationships with distributors and third-party channels have been critical to its entry into the OTT space. “Most [of our content partners], like us, understand that by actually addressing the individual viewing needs in addition to the household needs, we stand to increase the amount of total content that is consumed in each household.This in turn increases our product value and relevance to our customers and thus, ARPU. This is a winwin for both parties. We also believe that in this space, collaboration is key if we are to combat growing piracy. Just like in the traditional linear space, we have to at least be in a position to offer as good a product as the pirates, and, hopefully, with a much better quality of experience, service and convenience. For international content, critical to this would be having access to day/date releases of popular IP, as these are readily available on pirated sites.” Combatting pirate sites across Asia is a priority for all those involved in the content ecosystem, from the pay-TV players dependent on subscriber and affiliate revenues to the broadcasters and OTT platforms looking to deliver eyeballs to advertisers.To succeed, these services will have to battle it out for the best content, invest in the smartest, easiest user interfaces and, most importantly, figure out how to pay for all of it.
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Chandra When Subhash Chandra launched ZEE TV in 1992 as India’s first Hindi-language satellite channel, taking on a massive governmentbacked incumbent in Doordarshan, the conventional wisdom held that there was no money to be made in the country’s media business. Chandra ignored the naysayers, building ZEE Entertainment Enterprises into the country’s leading media conglomerate with a host of channels and an ever-expanding library of original content. ZEE’s parent company is the Essel Group, which is involved in a variety of sectors, including movie theaters, online gaming and pay-TV distribution with the Dishtv DTH platform and the SITI Cable Network MSO. Chandra, chairman of ZEE and Essel, shares with TV AsiaPac his thoughts on India’s evolution as a lucrative entertainment and media marketplace.
based on information and knowledge or wellness have huge potential in this market. Niche content based on [India’s] historic significance or about education has still not made any mark in the industry, and I firmly believe that [these genres have] immense potential. News broadcasting, on the other hand, needs to evolve further. The presentation patterns of news need to be more engaging than just a one-way communication. As I have always said, a circular relationship between the viewer and the broadcaster needs to be established. TV ASIAPAC: Are you looking at any further expansion in
your Indian channels portfolio? CHANDRA: Definitely. ZEE has 34 channels in the domes-
TV ASIAPAC: The Indian government has set 2015 as the deadline for nationwide digitization, which will mean accurate subscriber reporting for the first time, as well as encrypted signals that could stem the country’s significant piracy problems. What opportunities is the digital transition presenting for ZEE? And what are the hurdles? CHANDRA: Digitization certainly presents us with more opportunities than challenges. It has [established] the required levels of transparency in the entire broadcasting ecosystem, which will positively iron out all the gray areas, leading to enhanced and realistic revenues [based on more accurate subscription numbers]. Digitization has also opened up avenues for niche channels, which viewers can now opt for at a premium price. Going forward, when Phases 3 and 4 are implemented [in the last quarter of 2014, taking digitization across all urban areas and then across the country] the market will be further enhanced. However, the monetization of [digitization] will only be possible in fiscal 2016. In terms of challenges, a timely rollout of all the phases appears to be the primary concern. Considering the delay observed in the rollout of Phases 1 and 2, the same should not be reflected in the pending phases. TV ASIAPAC: When we last spoke two years ago, you mentioned that a key factor in the success of India’s pay-TV business was the evolution of the production sector. Has that happened? CHANDRA: It has evolved for sure, but there is immense potential for it to further improve by many folds. Genres
tic market, covering all the leading genres like generalentertainment, movies, sports, music, etc. Our 24-hour Hindi movies channel [called] &pictures is a new addition, catering to various viewer needs. TV ASIAPAC: In addition to serving Indian viewers in the
U.S. with the ZEE channels, you’re also targeting Englishlanguage audiences with the Veria Living health and lifestyle channel. What prompted you to enter this crowded market? And how is your U.S. expansion progressing? CHANDRA: Our in-depth study of markets like the U.S. suggests that the levels of stress and anxiety are extremely high. People in these markets do not invest time in their lifestyles and well-being. We identified that there is a huge need for a solution that enlightens the audiences and makes them aware of the importance of a healthy lifestyle. So this prompted us to enter this market. I wouldn’t say it is crowded, since there is really not a single integrated solution catering to these needs in the said market. What Veria Living brings to the table is an integrated approach focused on offering solutions that lead to an enhanced lifestyle and well-being of these audiences. Being an integrated solution, the idea is not just to offer content based on health via television, but to also create a state-of-the-art well-being center, an interactive response mechanism where one can express issues pertaining to wellness and seek solutions, and a wide retail presence with world-class products. 4/14 World Screen 415
By Mansha Daswani
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ASTRO’S ROHANA ROZHAN By Mansha Daswani
In the fast-developing media markets of Southeast Asia, Astro has become, particularly over the last few years, the company to watch. Reaching 52 percent of the Malaysian population, Astro is making sure its customers can access content the way they want to: as a linear experience, or on-demand, on the device of their choosing. As CEO Rohana Rozhan tells TV AsiaPac though, Astro Malaysia is much more than a pure-play distribution platform. It produces 10,000 hours of content every year to feed its 68 branded channels, and is reaching consumers through radio, publishing and online assets.
TV ASIAPAC: Tell me about the evolu-
tion of your strategy for delivering OTT and on-demand content through the B.yond and Astro On the Go platforms. ROZHAN: We’re in the midst of our journey to serve our customers better. I don’t think our journey will ever end! We’ve done all the box swap-outs in households that have HDTV, the top-end households, and more. Over 80 percent of our customer base is now on our Astro B.yond platform. Within that, a high percentage is taking up our valueadded products and services. We have just under 3 million of our customers on the Astro B.yond platform; 1.7 million are HD customers—that’s up by 500,000 on the year earlier—and just under 600,000 are PVR customers, which is double from the year earlier. Our super packs have done phenomenally well. These are bundles that are tailormade for the different ethnicities. We’ve got a Malay super pack, an Indian super pack, a Chinese super pack and an international super pack. Our customers pay between RM133 and RM155 ($40-$47) to get the best of all that Astro offers, including HD, PVR and Astro On the Go (AOTG). We know that value bundles are very popular in our marketplace. We launched another mid-level bundle priced at RM75 ($23) and again that went really well with nearly 200,000 customers. 416 World Screen 4/14
In terms of AOTG, our OTT service, we now have almost 900,000 customers who have already downloaded the app onto their devices, and we are happy with the response. Of the 900,000, we have just under 500,000 active users who have linked it to their account. We currently provide 30 of our linear channels and about 5,000 hours of VOD and catch-up content. Weekly viewing was about 35 minutes in the first year, it’s now over 75 minutes. TV ASIAPAC: How has the response been from advertisers to your TV Everywhere platforms? ROZHAN: Our ad revenue growth has been 15 percent yearon-year, so obviously we’re having a solid performance on advertising. When we go to advertisers, it’s a more comprehensive conversation, where we talk about packaging a personalized solution based on the individual client’s brief in order to optimize relevant reach. Other than TV Anywhere, our content IP is garnering unprecedented viewership numbers, we’ve got the strongest radio assets, we’ve got very strong publication assets and now we have every intention to be number one in the digital space as well. Our ground events are also attracting significant crowds. TV ASIAPAC: What are some of the other strategic initiatives you’re focused on this year? ROZHAN: First and foremost we are a content and a consumer play. We are creators, we are producers, we are aggregators, we are distributors. People tend to call it TV Anywhere, but for us it’s more than that. It is about content and content can come in the form of, you’re watching it, you’re listening to it, you’re reading it and you’re playing with it. Our media assets encompass all of the above. We’ve recently announced we’re making all of our traditional print publications available in a digital format to all our customers. Everyone, all of our 3.9 million and growing customer base, has access to our digital online publications. Going forward there is no reason for us to only offer our own titles to our customers. We have also recently announced a home-shopping joint venture with our channel to be launched on our platform in the latter part of the year. Our home-shopping channels will be made available through all our TV Anywhere platforms, including OTT. This year is also a huge sports year, and the year where we take delivery of eight additional transponders to enhance our linear service. [This will be] a busy year where our aspiration remains to strive to better serve our customers, by giving them better choice, experience, convenience and service.
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FIC’S JOON LEE By Kristin Brzoznowski
With almost 170 million cumulative subscribers in 41 countries, FOX International Channels (FIC) is the dominant pay-TV group in Asia. Well known for its entertainment and factual brands— including STAR World, FOX and National Geographic Channel— FIC has expanded into sports and is rapidly developing its nonlinear business with FOX Movies Play, SCM Play and FOX Sports Play. Joon Lee, the executive VP of content and communications for the Asia Pacific and the Middle East at FOX International Channels, tells TV AsiaPac about these and various other initiatives in the region.
TV ASIAPAC: What are FOX International Channels’ main initiatives for the Asia-Pacific region in 2014? LEE: Last year, FOX International Channels launched FOX Sports Asia. In 2014, we will continue to invest in FOX Sports Asia—in everything from the on-air presentation to marketing to launching more local feeds—to solidify its position as the leading TV network in Asia for sports fans across the region. We are in the process of building up local production hubs and new facilities in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines to better serve each territory with locally relevant sports content and local-language commentary. We have also just recently given FOX Sports Central, our FOX Sports flagship sports news show, a new set and makeover in Singapore. In the nonlinear space, we are working closely with our affiliate partners to build up our on-demand service, dubbed Play, which allows subscribers of the linear channel to also view their favorite content wherever they want and whenever they want via free-of-charge authenticated online players. We currently have FOX Movies Play for Hollywood movies, SCM Play for Chinese movies and FOX Sports Play for the latest sports content via the web, iOS and Android app. In 2014, we want to continue working closely with our local affiliates to bring this TV Everywhere experience to more markets and viewers and launching it in conjunction with more of our channels. Lastly, we are making great strides in airing shows as close to the original premiere date as possible across all genres, whether it be U.S. series or Asian content. By narrowing the gap between airdates, we are minimizing the chance for piracy while offering the same great content even faster than ever before to our subscribers. 418 World Screen 4/14
TV ASIAPAC: How are you working to build out the portfolio? LEE: We are very proud to announce the latest channel addition
to our National Geographic network, called Nat Geo People.This rebrand of Nat Geo Adventure, which started from March 1 across Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, aims to inspire curiosity by bringing riveting real-life stories and experiences to our fans with new cultures, cuisines and lifestyles. It will be the ultimate destination channel for travel and food lovers.As mentioned earlier, we are also working hard with platform operators to make our Play services available in more places across the region.We want to offer an alternative viewing experience and the flexibility to our viewers to consumer content how they want. TV ASIAPAC: What new programming highlights can you share with us? LEE: For FOX Sports Asia, we are thrilled to have secured and renewed many top rights across key sports such as the French Open, UFC, the F1 and the German football league Bundesliga. In addition, we will have all four golf majors as well as three of the four tennis grand slams coming this year. In the factual-entertainment space, the newly rebranded Nat Geo People channel will provide a tailored program lineup, which will [showcase] a real taste of life all in one channel with new series such as David Rocco’s Dolce India and American Food Battle and returning series such as Dog Whisperer and Mega Food. For NGC, we are excited to be a part of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which premiered in March.This remake of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos:A Personal Voyage will take our audience above and beyond the universe, reinventing the definition of scientific storytelling by bringing to life the discovery of space and time. With our Chinese channels, we already produce over a thousand hours of original content in the form of variety, cooking and game shows.We’re excited to bring back the popular show Chef at Home with former MasterChef U.S. finalist Sharone Hakman for another season on STAR Chinese Channel (SCC).We are also ramping up our production and investment in movies as well for our Chinese blockbuster movies channel SCM (STAR Chinese Movies), which is known as the “Emperor of Chinese Entertainment.” As part of our push into Chinese original content, we currently have over ten films in various stages of production.
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because we think that is not good for us in the long term. It’s better to learn from foreign formats and then promote our original creativity. We have now gained [the ability to] enrich our own original content.We need to put more Chinese culture into our own content. The Chinese culture has a very long history and is well known in the world. It’s our responsibility to put our special culture into TV shows. TV ASIAPAC: Are you planning to sell your own original
concepts internationally as formats? YAN: That’s our dream! It’s been a process for the TV platforms
in China to grow up, to become bigger and better and more powerful. If I had a superpower, I would want to travel from nowadays to five or ten years in the future to see what Hunan TV has and what its biggest hit is. I am very confident that our own brands with a strong background in the Chinese culture will lead the market.We have the advantage of the Chinese culture and we have very powerful production capabilities. It is our dream that some day we can promote our own brand around the world. TV ASIAPAC: What kinds of content are you looking for? YAN: We are looking for content that will be more flexible
and suitable for localization. In the past, we’ve had more pure entertainment content in the Chinese market. Nowadays,
HUNAN TV’S BERYL YAN By Mansha Daswani
Amid the slew of provincial satellite channels targeting China’s massive base of television viewers, Hunan TV remains ahead of the pack—even occasionally surpassing the state broadcasting behemoth CCTV. Hunan was one of the first of the Chinese broadcasters to embrace foreign formats, adapting titles like FremantleMedia’s The X Factor and BBC Worldwide’s Strictly Come Dancing. Beryl Yan, the head of program strategy at the broadcaster, tells TV AsiaPac about Hunan TV’s positioning in the Chinese landscape and its efforts to ramp up its content development and export initiatives.
TV ASIAPAC: How is Hunan positioned in the Chinese market? YAN: From the very beginning [in 1997] until now, Hunan TV
has grown into the most influential and determined platform in China. Our position is quite clear—[our brand values are] sunshine, youth and happiness. We produce a lot of shows ourselves every year, for example, in 2013 we had the biggest hit in China, I Am a Singer, a celebrity singing show. At the end of 2013, [we launched] the reality show Where Are We Going, Dad?, [based on a Korean format] where celebrity fathers travel with their kids. It became the most influential show in China. TV ASIAPAC: How important have international formats
been to Hunan TV? YAN: The formats [allow us to] learn from overseas. If a format
is successful in the international market, if it has been proven to be successful by the international TV industry, we can learn a lot from it.We can learn a lot on the technical side, the content side, the ideas side. That can help us to enhance the quality of our shows. We don’t want to rely too much on foreign formats 420 World Screen 4/14
with the development of the Chinese audience, their taste is [becoming more sophisticated] and the demand for spiritual and cultural [content] is also going up. We need to seek content that could have a much more deep emotional connection with the audience. We need to explore the content that will be more relatable to society—culture- and knowledgebased programs. Hunan TV itself needs to explore the meaning of “Happy China” more deeply. We think that if we can produce these shows with very high quality and with more cultural meaning and more values, we can bring more happiness to Chinese audiences, [and prompt them] to think more deeply about what they are looking for, what they really need. That’s what our responsibility is. TV ASIAPAC: How are the new restrictions on format imports affecting the Chinese content market? YAN: Fundamentally, the policy is a very good thing for the entire Chinese TV industry for the long term. It drives us to pay more attention to our own original creativity and leads us to strengthen our own power to create our own products. It also drives us to devote more energy to research and development. Facing the future, we will need to explore further cooperation with international partners in [new ways]. Maybe we can have more flexible cooperation with all our partners worldwide. For example, we can have all all-around cooperation, we can have technical cooperation, we can codevelop original ideas with our partners and we can even develop some kind of single segment [to insert into existing shows] with our partners. There are more and more things for us to do in the future.
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