It’s been an unexpectedly exciting and diverse year for the television industry in Asia and across the globe as rising TV viewership and accelerated roll out of new technologies complemented growing consumer expectations following last year’s economic slowdown. Slimmer and brighter full HD sets are now a musthave item for the in-home entertainment experience; supported by the launch of 3DTV technology, smarter set-top boxes, faster networks and more intuitive user interfaces. This year also saw mobile television take a giant leap forward with the launch of the game-changing iPad and other smart handhelds. As we distribute The Walt Disney Company’s compelling portfolio of movies, programs and channels to partners across the region, we’ve experienced that embracing the change that new technology brings, offers business opportunities for both new entrants and also incumbent players – and there is room for both to co-exist and grow in the rapidly evolving television business across Asia. Over the last few years, we have worked with our broadcast, platform and digital media partners to understand how our industry is transforming and how we can build viable digital businesses. A recent study we conducted of 18-35 year old digital natives across five markets in Asia highlighted that as well as control and choice, consumers also want immediacy – the consumer’s time is increasingly a valuable resource. A great example of how we leverage technology to offer immediacy to consumers was |at the April launch of Apple’s iPad. Disney’s ABC Player application was the first US network app to launch on the device, providing streamed, ad-supported, primetime shows. In the first six months since launch, it has become one of the most popular apps on the device – with more than one million downloads and five million episodes viewed. Here in Asia we’ve leveraged our global experience with digital platforms, to explore innovative partnership opportunities to reach new consumers. This year we established relationships with online partners in China and Korea to deliver our content over legitimate, secure online video platforms. At the same time, we expanded our strategic partnerships with pay TV providers in Australia, India and South East Asia by bringing compelling on-demand content over these platforms as well as extending online catch-up services for our hit ABC Studios shows to more of our terrestrial broadcast partners across the region. While technology has driven change, it has been more of a Darwinian evolution rather than a revolution. Television in Asia, as we know it, remains a robust and exciting business. Some traditional values still underpin the industry. Quality content is still the key driver of consumer demand and leading brands such as Disney are trusted signposts to great content in an increasingly choice-rich world. The billion-dollar box office performance of two of our recent features – Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 – and the record-breaking ratings of our Disney Channels across the world this year, prove there is no substitute for entertaining and high-quality content. At the heart – it’s still about a great story, well told. In Asia, we’re fortunate to work with partners who share our belief in quality content, the power of compelling brands and the focus on the consumer. This year in Indonesia we launched several Disney branded blocks on MNC’s terrestrial channels RCTI and TPI, to take the best of Disney content to more than 50 per cent of homes in the world’s fourth most populous nation. We also partnered with SK Telecom in Korea – a leading telecom service provider in one of the most sophisticated and advanced digital media markets in the world – to launch local Disney Channels next year. With the growing popularity of The Amazing Race in Asia Pacific, we built on our partnership with Shanghai Media Group in China, and with Channel Seven in Australia to produce localized versions of the worldwide smash hit reality show in both these key markets. We also extended our strategic partnership with Fox International Channels to bring first-runs of Disney’s extensive portfolio of films on pay-TV to Asia, over their movie channels. Looking ahead to 2011, we believe technology will continue to drive change. Beyond the inevitable challenges that change brings, are a wealth of opportunities to build bridges to connect consumers to their favourite content – across platforms and devices. Even today, the words of our founder, Walt Disney, continue to inspire. More than forty years ago, he said, “We keep moving forward – opening new doors and doing new things – because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths”. Based in Hong Kong, Rob Gilby leads the Media Distribution business for The Walt Disney Company in the Asia Pacific. He oversees a regional team responsible for the distribution of Disney’s movies, TV series and channels to platforms including television, online and mobile. Rob is a Board Director of CASBAA, UTV Software Communications and Movie Network Channels.