The Latin American presence in Singapore for the Asia TV Forum (ATF) international market is impressive, as usual — not so much for the number of exhibiting companies, but for the total programming hours sold to the Southeast Asia region. This year, the 17th annual ATF will be held December 7-9 at the usual Marina Bay Sands Convention Center, with a pre-market event on Tuesday, December 6.

So far, the LATAM presence amounts to some 10 exhibitors covering five countries, including Telemundo, Televisa, Brazil’s Record TV, as well as Colombia’s Caracol. However, of the conferences so far scheduled at ATF, not one deals with Latin America or features a panelist from that region.

Among the other regions heading to Singapore are Turkey’s Global Agency, ATV and Kanal D; Canada’s Breakthrough, which will be represented by Jodi Mackie, and Blue Ant with Michael MacMillan and Kate Blank. The Filipino delegation includes ABS-CBN, as well as GMA. Manuel Paolo Laurena of GMA stressed the fact that even if ATF is the last market of the year, it also opens up the contacts and deals for the following year so it’s a market that is very valuable for them.

A first-timer is Fox TV Distribution, which will be joining other U.S. studios, such as NBCUni, Disney, CBS and Viacom.

Even though Reed Exhibition, a commercial company, organizes ATF, the event is heavily supported by the Infocommunications Media Development Authority (IMDA), the city-state agency for audiovisuals affairs. IMDA is the resulting government agency from the merging of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) with the Media Development Authority (MDA).

IMDA is also promoting the two-year old Singapore Media Festival 2016, Southeast Asia’s main international media festival, of which ATF is a part.

However, if ATF’s future looks promising, currently Latin American exhibitors and exhibitors from other Western countries travel to the Singapore TV market with just with one or two executives. Some companies tour the region before or after attending the event.

To Julius Toh, vp, Content Sales, Asia Pacific and Middle East, for London-based Fox Networks Group Content Distribution, “with ATF gaining strength with each year, this will be the biggest show ever.”

Gary Pudney, head of Asia for Israel’s Keshet International added, “We are bullish on Asia. In support of this we are dedicating more resources to this area. We expect to see more companies and more buyers and more deal-making at ATF.”

Tegan Shi, sales director of Canada’s eOne Television International is “hoping [that] with the increasing number of attendees, ATF 2016 will be a busy and fruitful market.” To Shi, the biggest challenge is “the fast and competitive need to transform and digitize. [It] has been one that we need to adapt quickly and embrace after cautious evaluation.”

On behalf of Canada’s Blue Ant International, svp Solange Attwood explained, “We’re also seeing new trends and a higher demand for short-form content. With various OTT services and mobile offerings, buyers are starting to target millennial audiences.”

And from Colombia, Caracol’s Juan David Gomez Gutierrez has “high expectations for this market as we have a diversified, attractive and competitive portfolio that will definitely fulfill our client’s demands.”

From her Los Angeles office, Diana Zakis, svp Sales and Distribution, for London-based Content Distribution, reported that she has “seen the market grow hugely and is looking forward to a very busy market.”

For Pudney, “The biggest challenge is getting buyers to embrace new content and opportunities and be pragmatic.” He added, “Asian viewers are demanding more from broadcasters, and broadcasters are demanding more from producers. Today, we must offer unique, well-produced, well-scripted stories and content that resonates with Asia’s diverse audiences. There is a voracious appetite for more and more content delivered through linear, digital and mobile platforms.”

Toh’s Asian challenge is, “the fact that almost every country has a unique requirement, demand and appetite for various genres of content.”

To Zakis, “Local programming is very popular in Asian markets, mainly with FTV broadcasters, so this can present a challenge to international distributors. However, our diverse slate of awards shows continue to attract strong sales across Asia, particularly for the pan-territory’s PTV and OTT services.”

Shi finds that, “The younger audience in Asia is seeking content that dares to be different, innovative in its storytelling methodology, hence steering away from the traditional blockbuster genre, especially on the digital front. We’ve recently attracted a lot of interest on our new dramedy series Foreign Bodies, which happens to be the first Western series filmed in China.”

For Toh, “because of the demand for new and exciting content, we have seen a surge in demand for non-traditional genres like Turkish dramas.”

Gomez Gutierrez simply stated that, “Asia is demanding productions with high values and edgy storylines.”

For her part, Attwood is seeing “a strong demand for Natural History content in Asia, especially now that there are so many 4K VoD platforms in market.”

Zakis said, “We do well in Asia with our awards shows, as well as action feature films and drama series. There is also a growing interest in documentaries, which we see as a very positive development as we showcase a host of new factual titles.”

As far as territories are concerned, Shi sees “Growing demand for our scripted series especially in SEA, South Korea, and both scripted and non-scripted demand from mainland China, which continues to be a major focus for our strategic development plan.”

For Pudney, the biggest territory is, “Currently China, but we see big growth coming from India.”

Toh added, “Japan and China are definitely key markets for us in North Asia and Thailand in particular for South-East Asia.”

For Attwood, “Blue Ant International continues make great traction in Hong Kong, Thailand and South Korea. We’ve also started to see growth in other Asian territories such as Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines and India.”

And for Zakis, “Pan-Asia is our strongest territory, fuelled by the continued growth of multi-territory SVoD platforms, as well as steady business with the pan-regional linear channels.”

Gomez Gutierrez concluded: “Asia is an emerging market for us, yet we have been impressively welcomed as our productions have demonstrated their great potential with their outstanding performance among the Asian audience.”

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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