Asia TV Forum (ATF) and ScreenSingapore 2013 will take place the usual early December, specifically the 3rd-6th, at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Ahead of the event, VideoAge checked in with executives set to make the trip to Singapore to find out their thoughts on the market.
Naturally the Singaporean film-TV industry will contribute the lion’s share to the event. Indeed, according to the organizers, over 60 Singaporean companies will take part in ATF this year, bringing over 600 hours of uniquely Singaporean content. A special Singapore Pavilion will be set up to highlight this. Singaporean director Anthony Chen will take part in the “Insights with Film Personalities” session on December 4.
Another Singaporean director, Jack Neo and Mike Wiluan, CEO of Infinite Studios, will address the market as part of the “Asia’s Super Producers’ Panel.”
The event’s opening keynote speech will take place on December 3, and be delivered by, Sunny Xiangyang Zhu, chief content officer of Youku Todou, China’s leading internet television and video company. Zhu is responsible for all TV content matters on Youku.com and Tudou.com, be it content acquisition, licensing, productions or investments. Mr Zhu’s address –entitled “Changing The Future of TV Content – Youku Tudou To Build Dreams, Create Awareness and Reward” – will cover updates, copyright and piracy issues as well as content strategy.
“There are a number of reasons why we attend ATF,” said Brendan Zauner, vice president of Sales, Asia, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, whose company has been attending ATF for five years. “The market is growing in importance on the TV calendar every year and most of our key clients attend, so it’s a great chance to catch up with them.”
Added Marielle Zuccarelli, managing director if International Content Distribution at A+E International: “ATF is the last market of the year, so it’s important in terms of budget. It also takes place a very short time after MIPCOM, so it’s a good place to close business before the end of the year. There is always a handful of buyers that don’t make the trip to MIPCOM, so it’s great to meet them at ATF.”
The U.S. industry’s year-round producing slate has also made the market more important. “We have more new content to talk about than at any time in the past,” said Zauner, who said three executives from TV Distribution and one from Home Entertainment will attend. “For example, Fox launched 13 new pilots at the Los Angeles Screenings this year in May and since then have announced many more new series pick-ups.
“Plus,” he added: “ATF provides a relaxed forum for a great fact-finding mission. It is good to find out what local content is working in the Asian markets, so we can feed that back to our U.S. production team. Finally, our digital business is growing rapidly and Asia is a major growth region in that area.”
In terms of how the region’s appetites have changed, Zauner said the appetite for homegrown content has increased, like most of the global markets. “Asian broadcasters are using US programming for counter programming purposes. Local programming in Asia tends to be more female-skewed featuring strong female leads, are character-based, long-running and stripped weekly where episode numbers make it possible to do so. … An interesting thing is that although U.S. programs rarely feature in the Top 50 TV programs, they rank highly in the top programs being pirated online. That shows there is an appetite for U.S. content, but it is not being fulfilled quickly enough after US broadcast. So another trend emerging is the launch and broadcast of content as close to the US as possible to satisfy that demand. STAR in India for example just launched the Star World Premium channel where the marketing message is ‘12 hours from the U.S.’”
Big budget action series such as Homeland, 24 and Prison Break and shows driven by strong female leads such as Bones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are most popular in the Asian territories, Zauner said.
“In terms of taste, character-driven series — like Duck Dynasty, which was recently rated the number one non-fiction U.S. cable series among total viewers during the fourth season premiere — are growing in Asia. It was slow to grow in the region, but people are now paying more attention to it and learning how to make such a franchise work across Asia,” said Zuccarelli. “All of our history catalog, science and 3D titles remain favorites in Asia.”
Zauner also notes that Singapore has the highest piracy of TV programs per capita compared to anywhere else the world.