Louis Boswell, General Manager, AETN All Asia Networks Yes, I am glad 2009 over, but not because it was horrible; simply because I believe 2010 will be better. Our networks are young, and each year they grow, the better they do. The biggest challenge was to keep growing. Existing business was not badly affected by the financial crisis, but it became harder to do new distribution deals and it certainly became harder to grow advertising. So given that, our biggest achievements were to enter Taiwan with good carriage deals on all 4 big MSOs, to enter Indonesia with carriage of all of our channel brands on Indovision, and to make big break-throughs in our advertising sales business in the 4th quarter of the year with a handful of new blue chip brands who want to be associated with History. (For 2010) it will be more of the same. Advertising sales needs to continue growing aggressively, and then we look to growth of pay TV as a whole across the region. There are not many places now we are not distributed, so we look to the platforms to keep growing. 2010 will also be the year in which our investment in Asian productions starts to pay off and you will see a lot more stories on our channels from all around this region. There is still so much room to grow for the Asian Pay TV business, but there are some very real obstacles, particularly piracy, which have not gone away. There are particular challenges in Thailand and Indonesia. There is so much room for legalisation, consolidation and growth in these two markets, that the industry at large needs to make sure the opportunity is seized for the benefit of all. Richard Porter, Director of News Content, BBC World News There’s no doubt that 2009 has been a tough year for everyone in the industry, so in some respects it’s nice to be saying goodbye to it; but it’s also been one of the most interesting years I can remember from a news perspective. With global stories around the environment and the financial crisis you could argue that 2009 was the year that international news found a truly mass audience, and that has been something of a watershed for us. We’re beginning to gear up to the move to the BBC’s new newsroom facility in 2012, which will present us with even greater opportunities in this regard. The prospect of broadcasting in HD is drawing closer, while delivering content to viewers as and when they want it is now a priority for us as a news organisation. We’re also seeing the emergence of mobile phones as a vital part of the media mix. We introduced an iPhone app in 2009 and we want to make that kind of service as widely available as possible. Likewise, the way viewers can interact with the news via social media is tremendously exciting, and something we’re already exploring in great depth. Our counterparts in BBC Persian glimpsed the potential of this during the protests following the Iran elections. At certain points they received user-generated content via e-mail and mobile phones at a rate of six to eight per minute. Shawn Galey, Managing Director, Commercial Affairs, Asia-Pacific, Bloomberg Television Am I glad 2009 is over? Not really. I never like getting older, and this was a fun year – we exceeded all of our expectations, and did groundbreaking deals with UTV in India and TBS in Japan. Our ad sales team, led by Mark Froude, did a superb job weathering the economic storm, and over-delivered in a very tough environment. (For 2010) we have to maintain and accelerate the momentum we have created over the last few years in programming, distribution and revenues. Much of the low-hanging fruit has now been harvested, so we’ll be challenged to be better than before. Having said that, we’re well-positioned to build on our successes and reach viewers like never before. For the Asian TV business as a whole, we all still have to figure out digital and convergence and – to a lesser extent – how HD fits into all of that. Don’t let anybody fool you, there’s still a long way to go. Ross Pollack, CEO, Celestial Pictures We’re looking to the future with a great deal of enthusiasm and optimism, focusing on extending our brand, our products to subscribers and platforms throughout Asia and beyond. Like other content creators and providers, the biggest challenge is to continue to anticipate and meet the changing needs of the consumers while still providing the best content and channels to our existing audiences. We see the challenges as the opportunities. We’ll continue to expand our production of content – both focusing on our library (the largest Chinese language action library extant) and new IPs, to produce for our own channels and for distribution globally. We’ll also continue to explore new channel opportunities while of course, strengthening our existing offerings. Woven throughout these challenges/opportunities will be the integration of digital media into all our content offerings and delivery channels. There still remain tremendous opportunities for Pay TV in the region so we expect that business to grow in Asia throughout 2010. A challenge/opportunity will be to identify, meet and monetize opportunities that will continue to grow in the digital space. Christine Fellowes, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Comcast International Media Group In late 2008 and 2009 as capital markets collapsed, investment in upgrading services stalled, advertising revenues were squeezed, ROI’s were pushed out, the challenge was in adjusting our game plan while remaining firmly on course in pursuit of CIMG’s vision to build compelling content brands across a myriad of distribution platforms. We experienced loss when a number of smaller, undercapitalized platforms closed or delayed new service launches. We worked very, very hard at staying close to our clients and understanding the factors impacting their business. CIMG focused more than ever on client relationships and providing outstanding client service. In 2009 we expanded the footprint of The Golf Channel and E! Entertainment, launched our first local E! channel in partnership with SBS in Korea, and made great strides in launching The Style Network in major new markets including Indonesia and Australia. We launched a regional advertising sales business, with the appointment of SPENA as our representatives, and have been delighted at the initial uptake of E!, with sales already pacing above budget. With a doubling of traffic to E! Online, we restructured our online ad sales business as part of channel ad sales, both achieving growth in 2009. 2009 was also a year where CIMG expanded our commitment to local production in the region. We announced a significant investment in the production of E! News Asia, a weekly entertainment and celebrity news program, covering Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and wherever the news, awards and stars are in Asia. Our expectation is that 2010 will be a year of solid growth for CIMG in Asia Pacific. We remain focused on managing costs while investing in localization, digitization of our product and developing new initiatives in key markets India, Australia and China. We expect Indonesia and Malaysia to lead the South East Asia business, although piracy continues to impact industry potential. Vietnam may finally take off in 2010, pending regulatory issues being addressed. While the focus for E! is localization and ad sales, we will develop new local partnerships for The Golf Channel, and will finalize the regional rollout of The Style Network. In response to the demand for young male-skewed content from G4, we’ll collaborate with major broadcasters in the region to develop formats and branded blocks. CIMG will continue to develop new local advertising opportunities in Asia in the coming year, and hope to launch further online businesses. We expect broadband to generate interesting opportunities, capitalizing on the migration of advertising budgets from print and broadcast to online during the downturn. We’ll also concentrate on the broadband VOD space in 2010. Rob Gilby, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Disney-ABC International Television (Asia Pacific) During the latter part of the year, we saw some positive signs of recovery across different markets in Asia. Although no one was immune from the conditions of this past year, we were still able to expand our business and we continue to see positive growth opportunities in both mature and developing markets. We worked very closely with existing and new partners to develop strategies to help them continue to build and expand their business. What we heard this past year from all of our partners was the importance of maintaining their competitive advantage, while retaining relationships with consumers. (For 2010) In particular, one area where we see amazing growth opportunities is with the rapid evolution and adoption of digital technologies. Disney, as a company has aggressively embraced digital technologies and pioneered some industry firsts, and we intend to use our experience, learnings and insights to help our partners drive their business forward. In 2010, we plan to work closer than ever with our partners to develop innovative digital media strategies. Asia is such a diverse market that the focus should always be on providing consumers with the best entertainment experience on whatever platform they demand whether that is the TV, PC, mobile phone, or some other personal viewing device. Consumers will increasingly explore various ways to view programming as penetration of digital platforms through broadband, DTH & digital cable increases. This presents great opportunities for broadcasters in Asia to look beyond just linear channels and realize the potential of digital media services such as subscription video-on-demand. We believe digital media adoption is going to continue to grow in size and significance in people’s lives across Asia, and that these new viewing options are not going to erode audiences, just change the business. Tom Keaveny, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific had a great year in 2009 and we’re now only looking forward to 2010. It was our 15th anniversary of broadcasting in the region, rolled out new channels including our first timeshift channels in Australia, partnered with Baidu for a new Chinese website discovery.baidu.com, expanded our HD reach, launched new feeds and advertising sales windows in local markets, grew our viewership and ended the year taking home the coveted ‘Cable & Satellite Channel of the Year’ title at the Asian Television Awards. Discovery Channel continues to lead in PAX and is the number one international channel in Asia-Pacific, reaching more than 117 million viewers every month according to Peoplemeter. Like everyone else, the biggest challenge for us was the general economic climate since everyone was spending less. We still managed to work with our clients on big campaigns including Tourism Malaysia, Samsung, Sony, Taiwan Tourism Bureau and Snow Beer amongst others. This was a huge achievement for our advertising sales teams in the region. We continue to evaluate our portfolio and seek to roll out new channels in the region. A key priority for us is to look at where there are gaps and tap opportunities – we are launching new channels in India in the first quarter for example, taking our portfolio of channels there from three to six. We will focus on growing distribution, advertising sales and viewership as key business priorities. For pay-TV, our greatest challenge is also a huge opportunity… getting a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to advertising dollars and being able to demonstrate to clients the real value that we are able to deliver for their campaigns. Manu Sawhney, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports It has been a great year of firsts for ESPN STAR Sports, and we’re pleased with new initiatives and milestones, including the launch of ESPNEWS, our fourth channel brand that takes our networks in Asia to a robust 18 customized offerings for fans across the region. Besides launching our new channel brand ESPNEWS, the first 24/7 sports news channel specially dedicated to Asian sports fans, the ICC World T20 2009 edition enjoyed increased exposure globally having secured a record number of distribution partnerships in 189 territories across the globe as well as broadcasting the tournament across 11 languages for the first time. In addition, we also kicked off the inaugural edition of the Airtel Champions League Twenty20 and we put together a world feed coverage that was produced, distributed and delivered worldwide to more than 160 countries in 14 different international languages across the world. We extended our association with the Premier League for the BPL for another three seasons until 2013 across 18 key markets, and cemented a six-year deal for the Wimbledon Championship broadcast rights till 2014 across our footprint, amongst many more sport rights. One of the biggest challenges today is audience fragmentation where the consumers now have the ability and availability of options to divide their time amongst a myriad of media programming. Sports is in a unique place amongst different genres of entertainment. People can now watch their dramas, comedies, etc. when they want to but when it comes to sports viewing they want to catch “the game” live. Arjan Hoekstra, Managing Director, Eurosport Asia 2009 was a great year for Eurosport in Asia-Pacific. We signed a multitude of new distribution agreements including two major ones in Australia with Foxtel and Austar ever expanding our presence in the region. We also made some major sports rights acquisitions like for instance the Tour de France in an effort to continuously deliver more quality content to our clients and viewers and to solidify our position in the market. I would not mind having another 2009 in 2010! (The biggest challenge overcome in 2009) was achieving significant growth in a market that has slowed down considerably. (Next) to conquer the few last remaining markets in the Asia Pacific region. To solidify our Internet presence in all major markets. To continue to build our brand and driving viewership. Growth in the Pay TV industry will continue if all stakeholders collectively manage to effectively quell the thriving piracy issues across the region and convince the advertising community of the superior value of its audiences. Ward Platt, President, Asia Pacific and the Middle East, FOX International Channels and National Geographic Channels International The Star English channels business became part of the family in mid-year 2009, a move that brought more great brands and great people to Fox International Channels. We also launched many new channels of our own, including more HD ones, and we saw our ad sales business rebound across most of the region. We launched tvN, Korea’s No.1 General Entertainment channel, in partnership with CJ Media and signed carriage deals for the channel with Indovision, PCCW, StarHub, Destiny and VSTV. We launched FOX, the World’s No.1 US drama and entertainment channel in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia starting 25 December 2009, and we have secured carriage deals for this channel with PCCW, Indovision, ASTRO, StarHub, Skycable, Destiny and VSTV. The channel is launching with great first run series such as NCIS (US’s No.1 drama), Lie to Me, Flash Forward, White Collar and Burn Notice. We also launched a free-to-air Satellite National Geographic Channel in partnership with Abu Dhabi Media Company for the Middle East region. The channel is fully dubbed in Arabic and is available in 50 million homes across the region. Additionally, we did a deal with NBC Universal to provide a broad range of channel services for their channels in Japan, including ad sales and affiliate sales representations as well as technical play-out and on-air promo services. We have great brands, but we need to do a better job in bringing more viewers to our channels and getting them to stay longer with our channels (higher ratings). We must localize our channels more in the way they are packaged and presented to viewers – our local competitors often do a great job at this and we can learn from them. Also, all our brands need to be available in HD by end 2010, and they will be. Pay-TV channels need to get better at unlocking local market ad sales. There are many markets in Asia where channels still only earn affiliate fees and have yet to unlock local ad sales. This equation is not sustainable and puts a heavy burden on the platforms. International channels must work closer with the platforms to help grow the pay-TV share of the ad pie to more reasonable levels. Jonathan Spink, CEO, HBO Asia I am not glad 2009 is over as it is another year gone by and I am getting older. 2009 has been an exciting year for HBO Asia, a year marked with several significant milestones. Not only did we launch HBO HD, the first regional movie channel to broadcast in high definition (HD) in Asia, we also announced that we will exclusively handle the distribution of two channels in the Asia-Pacific region – Warner TV, a new general entertainment television channel, as well as leading infant and toddler channel BabyFirst. In addition, together with Mei Ah Entertainment Group, we recently announced an exclusive agreement to launch a new Asian movie channel across Asia in 2010. This marks HBO Asia’s first foray into a dedicated channel with Asian content. In 2010, we look forward to working with Mei Ah to launch HBO Asia’s first Asian movie channel across Asia, as well as launching Warner TV and increasing the presence of BabyFirst in the region. In addition, we will continue to expand the footprint of HBO Asia’s bouquet of channels throughout the region. Piracy will continue to be a challenge for the Asian TV business. Todd Miller, Executive Vice President, Networks, Asia Pacific, Sony Pictures Television, Asia Pacific We’re excited about 2010. Sony Pictures Television’s international networks have enjoyed strong ratings momentum during the past year. For example, AXN Asia’s latest original production, Cyril: Simply Magic, premiered in November on AXN across Asia to phenomenal ratings, increasing its lead-in by 352 percent in Malaysia and by 196 percent in Singapore. And with positive economic indicators for next year, we look forward to capitalizing upon the networks’ strong ratings performance. The biggest challenge we overcame is that we managed to grow our businesses in a down year. Our Singapore operation, SPE Networks – Asia (SPENA), is off to a good start in a tough ad climate. Representing third party channels such as the History Channel and E! has helped us increase advertising revenue in the region. In addition, all day GRPs for our flagship Hindi service have grown by 170 percent this year. We recently extended our longstanding relationship with CBS Studios International with the acquisition of the new hit NCIS spin-off series, NCIS: Los Angeles, as well as Melrose Place, both of which are set to premiere in 2010 on various SPENA channels. (For the Pay-TV industry as a whole, the biggest challenge is) getting our fair share of the advertising pie. There’s an unreasonable gap between multichannel viewership and ad receipts. More and more Asian consumers are watching subscription television. The ad dollars need to follow the eyeballs. Alexandre Muller, Managing Director, TV5 Monde Asia Pacific 2009 was a great a year for us. We celebrated our 25th anniversary with our partners from around the world and, looking forward, we launched a bulk of new services that will make TV5MONDE fully enter the era of global media with two new channels in our portfolio, two new websites, more subtitling, multimedia offers etc. We made a few investment-hungry strategic decisions in the months before the meltdown, and it put extra pressure on our regional team. But overall in Asia-Pacific we managed to increase our distribution by over 20 percent, our daily reach by up to 80 percent in some key markets and our regional turnover by 160 percent, and the take-up of our new multimedia services is encouraging. The region remains very heterogeneous in terms of regulation, infrastructure and technology (eg. digitalization), forcing international channels into very targeted solutions to deliver the right content to the right audience, in the right format and using the right technology. Piracy remains problematical in a few key markets, although some governments seem to be on the right path with interesting moves in Indonesia and the Philippines this past year. But overall our business in the region still has a huge potential for growth and, combined with a more stable global environment, I’m sure we’ll all have a great year ahead.
Ad – Before Content
- The Story Lab and Fuji Television Network unveil their new entertainment format ‘The Spin’
- iQiyi Hallyu Season sees the release of major K-drama series and films
- Australians in Film announce Chris Hemsworth, Jacki Weaver and more to judge the Heath Ledger Scholarship
- ABS-CBN Superview streams classic Filipino movies, series for free worldwide on YouTube
- Netflix announces ‘Rana Naidu’ starring Rana Daggubati and Venkatesh Daggubati
- The Q announces the world television premiere of the critically-acclaimed series ‘Aashram’