WebTVAsia – Fred Chong
Is there a future for Asian digital content?
There’s the mainstream content and then, there’s the Asian digital creator’s content which is breaking new grounds today. Mainstream players are starting to embrace these new digital creators and using them to produce TV content, which is losing its ground. Asian digital content is going through a phase where creators are only given a small budget for their creative talent. But this is slowly gaining traction with higher traffic and large fan base, allowing them to become the ‘new mainstream’.
It is clear that mainstream has yet to have a firm grip of digital creators and the digital way of producing content for the new generation. The numbers don’t lie. If you put mainstream content on digital, you will get a million views. If it’s of low-quality, it gets a 100 million views. The audiences are moving towards digital. It’s only a matter of time when they will decide that they’ve had enough of mainstream media and shift their time to digital.
Is branded content the way to go?
No. I like to highlight that it could kill the creators’ creativity. Creators are not just meant to produce YouTube videos. A savvy creator could be the next Steven Spielberg. Somewhere along the lines, before they even reach that level, they are bombarded with offers from brands and suddenly they’re producing branded content because of the higher revenue. You’re now focused on how to present a brand or product in a video so that the advertiser is happy. The creative focus gets lost and that is betraying the fans, followers or creators. Creators must not forget why they’re producing videos. I also embrace branded content but I want advertisers and brands to understand that there’s more to the creators than just utilising or exploiting their fan base.
Are brands diluting the creative juice of creators?
Creators are underpaid and lack the knowledge of their demand in the industry where they are actually highly sought after. Everyone must move from YouTube to somewhere, but many are not getting anywhere. None are big stars today because they got lost along the way and branded contents have influenced their path to success for some. We want to highlight that creators can work with us and we can invest in the original content without brands so that we can create IPs for them. There may be undiscovered talent in Vietnam or Thailand who may be the next Steven Spielberg and we want to be the platform to discover them.
Where is Asian content heading?
I think Asia is still in its infancy, but it’s moving and growing very quickly. Brands are still struggling how to communicate to millennials via content marketing and branded opportunities within Asia. There’s such a drastic learning curve that is happening out there. Today, if you were to look at Singapore’s creator ecosystem, there are only three or four standout creators. Brands are hesitant to work in that space because there aren’t enough good samples. On the other hand, there are great examples from Indonesia, Korea or China, but in their local languages. The best thing that could happen is to have more creators sharing, and then brands can understand what works and what doesn’t.
Do you think mainstream content producers will make it in the digital world?
Mainstream, like Endemol Shine Group, are arguably the largest independent producer and distributor of terrestrial content. We also have a very large footprint in digital through Endemol Shine Beyond, our digital group. Television companies are investing heavily in digital production companies. Traditional TV and film stars are also becoming more active in the digital space. As Asia digitises, we’ll see a lot more traditional media companies playing in the digital space and vice versa. Long form stories could also be produced digitally.
Is branded content the way to go?