Reaching the masses in APAC region

With everyone producing some sort of content today – even user-generated content (UGC), some industry executives have predicted the bubble will soon burst with an oversupply of irrelevant content. Sony Pictures International, on the other hand, is offering different strokes to different folks in the Asia-Pacific region with its potpourri of shows such as Imaginary Mary (13x 30), Timeless (16 x 60) and The Halcyon (8 x 60) across all platforms. Ken Lo, SVP of Sony’s International Distribution sees a bullish market in the region and attributes it to the high quality of the content that Sony takes pride in producing over the years. K. Dass reports from MIPCOM 2016.

Ken: Every country has different taste. India, for example, is definitely looking at content suitable for families. Generally, they look for content that brings the family together after or during dinner, where several generations watch at the same time. They are looking at mass audience type of shows. Yet, there is also a noticeable trend of clients looking for bolder shows to differentiate their services. For example, Korea is looking at something else: ‘Hey, can I get something smarter? Can I get something that is pushing the envelope a little further?’ Titles such as Better Call Saul or Masters of Sex do well there. China has a bigger range because we are talking about potentially billions of viewers. So, it’s difficult to say what content works well across Asia-Pacific because I think they all do and the leverage we have is our heritage as Sony Pictures and the top notch content that we produce. We do not have a U.S. affiliation with networks like Disney, ABC or NBC Universal. We are an independent producer so while we work with all major networks, we also work with companies such as AMC and FX who has been looking for high-quality shows that are different from the networks. Our portfolio has a very wide range – we have premium network shows that are for general viewings, such as Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Masters of Sex, Start Up, Bloodline on Netflix and many more.

What are the new markets you’re looking at?

Ken: The focus right now is less on seeking new markets but strengthening within the existing market. We are only touching a portion of the population here. The content ecosystem hasn’t been able to reach out to everybody and one key reason relates to technological holdback. Today, traditional TV primetime has vanished due to the fact that content can be delivered anytime, anywhere via many devices. OTT is a great example of this delivery. However, we are already doing business in new locations such as Mongolia and we’re looking into Myanmar, too. But, I still believe if we can gain another 5% in India or China that will probably cover the entire opportunity in Mongolia. We are still focusing on the key sectors such as Indonesia, India, and China which has untapped segments. Do you see a market for VR content and a possible new revenue stream? Ken: There is some VR content in production with several more in the pipeline. Ghostbusters and a few others are already produced and will be part of the distribution catalogue. Right now, we are seeing interest from China and Korea as these are technologically the more savvy locations. VR is a very immersive way of experiencing the world and it complements the main show or series. The entire scope is simply brilliant and we will be rolling out more of this content. There’s a clear market for games and consumers are willing to pay for it. Sony just rolled out the PlayStation VR for the first time. As for other VR content related to film or TV, some are enhanced promotional companions to the main shows so the idea is to get people even more engaged with an existing TV series, or connected to an up-coming movie. There are also certain products that we will be building with an even greater experience that could be revenue generating. We are still looking at all possible models.

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