Trade body CASBAA is best known for its conventions where relevant industry issues are debated at length with experts who speak at the event. This year is no exception, in fact, Christopher Slaughter, CASBAA’s CEO explains, “We are very excited about this year’s programme, especially about some of the great speakers who are coming from outside our region, as well as those from closer to home. Irwin Gotlieb, Global Chairman of media agency Group M, is one of the most powerful men in advertising. California-based East West Bank has been deeply involved in arranging financing for China’s Hollywood spending spree, and Bennet Pozil has led the team that has put together more than US$1.8 billion in funding in recent years.
We’re delighted to have Chad Gutstein, CEO of Machinima, one of the biggest online multichannel networks. He’ll highlight how his content reaches the global community of gamers, including those in China. James Schwab is the Co-President of Vice Media. But long before, he was an advisor on some of the biggest media deals in the U.S. including Time Warner, Dreamworks, Sony, and Viacom, just to name a few. We’ve All the major players catering to Asia-Pacific’s ever-growing pay-TV base (cable operators, satellite, channels, IPTV, OTT and VR platforms, streaming service etc) are expected to pack their luggage and arrive at Studio City Resort and Casino complex in Macau for CASBAA’s 25th birthday party. Christopher Slaughter tells K. Dass what you will miss if you don’t make it to the party.
CASBAA, 25 years in the making got Thom Beers, the guy who created Monster Garage and Deadliest Catch for Discovery, and Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men for the History Channel, along with hundreds more hours of compelling TV. He’ll discuss content trends in a time of Peak TV.” With 2016 marking the 25th anniversary of both cable TV in the region and the inauguration of CASBAA, this year’s convention is set to underscore just how much the industry has transformed over the last quarter of a century. There’s no denying that increased broadband capabilities and the rise of digital disrupters has had a significant impact on the way content is now disseminated and consumed, forcing established industry players to urgently rethink their business models.
How are key industry players responding to these fast-paced developments? What lessons can we learn from the US and other markets? Who are the main players driving change in the Asia-Pacific region? How can we protect ROI in this brave new digital world? These and many more pertinent topics facing the industry right now will be discussed at the CASBAA Convention 2016. An impressive lineup of speakers from across the globe will convene at Studio City, Macau, to provide their perspective on industry developments as well as highlight what they are doing to future proof their operations for the years ahead. This year there will also be a spotlight on local operators with the ‘Operator Series’ bringing together local market telco and cable providers from across Asia-Pacific.
What is expected at CASBAA Convention 2016?
Christopher Slaughter: This year we are celebrating CASBAA’s 25th birthday, marking the Association’s founding in Hong Kong in 1991. Although cable and satellite TV certainly did exist in Asia prior to that period, the pay-TV sector really began to establish itself around the region in the early ‘90s. In addition, we have declared 2016 to be The Year of the Operator, recognising that cable MSOs, DTH service providers, IPTV operators, and OTT players all serve as the critical “last mile” link in the pay-TV value chain, connecting subscribers with all the fantastic content they demand. We’ve also moved the event to the Studio City Resort and Casino complex in Macau; our first convention to be held out of Hong Kong in more than a decade. We will be covering topics at the heart of the digital transformation of our industry, with global and regional overviews from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Media Partners Asia, respectively, and presentations from research companies like S&P Global Market Intelligence, Kantar, and Nielsen.
How has CASBAA evolved over the years?
Christopher Slaughter: One of our biggest evolutions seems relatively minor, but actually speaks clearly of how the industry has changed over 25 years. CASBAA used to stand for the “Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia”, but today, our membership has grown beyond the two platforms. We now embrace telcos and mobile operators, online service providers, tech companies, research and consulting agencies, law firms – basically, any company that is involved in the multichannel content creation and distribution in the region. The fact that this “broad church” of membership has gone far beyond cable and satellite reflects how different the industry has evolved over the past 25 years. Our biggest focus used to be simple market access issues once upon a time. Today, we deal with legislative minutiae of a disparate range of regulatory regimes on a market-by-market basis. Our annual convention used to be much more of an exhibition focused trade show, dedicated to selling boxes and bits; now the convention is all about trafficking in ideas and trends. The industry used to fight piracy by running steamrollers across piles of impounded pirate DVDs; now we face tech-savvy criminal syndicates selling illicit streaming devices that deliver whole bouquets of pirated TV, stealing not just one show, but the entire 24×7 live output of regional and international broadcasters.
How has CASBAA impacted the Asia-Pacific broadcasting industry? Share some of the changes that CASBAA has introduced.
Christopher Slaughter: The CASBAA’s mission is to promote industry growth in the region, pure and simple. We have a number of ways we do that, clustered around three main focal points, Represent, Inform and Connect. In reverse order, we connect by physically bringing together various industry executives in the same place (such as at our Convention), giving them a chance to make new business connections, meet new people, and explore new opportunities. We inform our members through a number of different means, including a constantly-updated schedule of workshops and roundtables (including our annual Convention), weekly and monthly newsletters, and various white papers and publications. And we represent our broad membership by engaging with governments, regulatory authorities, and other industry bodies on issues of concern, including topics as diverse as channel licensing in Vietnam, censorship in Indonesia, audience measurement regimes in Singapore and a host of other markets, satellite spectrum interference across the region and around the world, and, of course, the ongoing scourge of piracy and the fight to protect intellectual property. All of these activities are ongoing, and most of these specific issues aren’t the sort that has a definite conclusion. But through CASBAA’s continued activity, the industry has a neutral meeting ground, a clearing house for industry information, and a common voice when interacting with governments around the region.
What will non-delegates be missing from CASBAA Convention 2016?
Christopher Slaughter: Apart from several days of stimulating, thoughtprovoking, and entertaining interaction with some of the leading figures in the global and regional industry? Apart from the opportunity to socialise with hundreds upon hundreds of their colleagues, business partners, and competitors, all under one roof? Isn’t that enough? Share some of your plans for the industry. Christopher Slaughter: As a trade association, we don’t really make plans for the industry, we respond to the needs of our members as they make plans for the industry. With that in mind, we’re pretty confident that the OTT revolution is far from over, and companies in every part of the industry will increasingly be rolling out online services of one sort or another – we’ve already begun to see those take shape, and the process will only accelerate over the coming months. Note: that’s months, not years. We’re looking closely at the mobile video space and anticipate a big push among mobile operators to develop content partnerships and innovative business models. The future of TV is more than just apps, but clearly, apps are a critical part of that future. While we don’t think we’ll completely end the piracy issue any time soon, we’re definitely making progress in getting authorities in various jurisdictions to pay attention to the criminal activity that is being allowed to flourish under outdated and inefficient enforcement and prosecutorial regimes. And we’re going to continue to urge governments to relax their excessive regulatory constraints on the pay-TV industry, which is now in toe-to-toe completion with a host of legal online content suppliers – to say nothing of the piracy syndicates!