The new registration area at ATF.

After a December trip to Singapore for the 15th annual Asia TV Forum and Market (ATF) it would be nearly impossible for participants to go back to their respective countries without feeling like they’d overdosed on Christmas carols. So pervasive is the commercial aspect of Christmas in this Asian city-state that no corner is spared — whether it’s a Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian or Vietnamese store.

But the atmosphere was more somber inside the Marina Sands Complex where the ATF is held — this year taking up the fourth and fifth floor rather than the traditional ground floor, giving it more space. (The levels below ATF, we should mention, are packed with high-end stores and restaurants playing a continuous loop of Christmas carols).

The TV trade show opened on Wednesday, December 10, a day after a series of conferences organizers were keen to promote. (Perhaps they don’t fully appreciating the fact that most participants don’t travel up to 25 hours to listen speakers dispensing wisdom that could have just as easily been watched at home via streaming.)

As for the new location inside the convention center, reactions were largely favorable aside from some issues. The fear of the long escalators jammed with people (the elevators are far away and therefore not convenient) did not materialize, which left some exhibitors with mixed feelings hoping for more people.

And after registering or attending conferences on the fourth floor, participants had the choice of several additional escalators to conquer to reach the exhibition hall on the fifth floor where 106 stands (including 13 pavilions) were set up to accommodate 338 exhibiting companies from 30 countries.

Some companies that take large stands at markets such as MIP-TV opt for the bare minimum at ATF, but they still reported brisk pre-market sales and sales during the market, indicating that good content sells regardless of booth size.

In total there were about 270 buying companies registered for a ratio of 1.25 sellers per buyer.

With 33 buying companies, Hong Kong sent the largest contingent after Singapore (34), followed by Indonesia (26), South Korea (24), Taiwan (22), Thailand (18) and Mainland China (16). The market continued to see a diminished presence of once abundant Latin companies with only three countries and five companies exhibiting, plus Telemundo from Miami.

Exhibitors still tend to see ATF as a “small” market and therefore they allocate few marketing resources in terms of stand presence, sales force, advertising and parties (Fashion TV Distribution, Comarex and NBCUniversal hosted one). Many sellers at the ATF tend to limit themselves to just renting tables at the “Participants’” area, while timing their Singapore trip with local visits to content buyers in neighboring countries.

Here’s some of the news that broke at the Asia TV Forum, straight from the market floor:

  • A+E Networks inked new broadcast deals in Asia ahead of ATF, which bring their content to China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and elsewhere.
  • At ATF, Bomanbridge Media announced several deals, including content sales to Thailand, New Zealand and Korea.
  • Chinese film industry tycoon Yu Dong, private equity firm Tembusu Partners and media entrepreneur Calvin Cheng jointly launched a US$100M Singapore-based private equity media fund –  the first of its kind in Singapore.
  • Sky Vision, the international distribution arm of Sky, sold over 100 hours of programming to Asia, including the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea.

For more on the 2014 edition of the Asia TV Forum, read the full report in VideoAge’s January 2015 issue.