Unique Drama is a Key Selling Point

Globally, every TV outlet, digital or otherwise, is looking for the next big drama. And audience demand for engaging, quality scripted programming has never been so high. Mediacorp’s programming is in demand abroad but who is buying and where is the market heading? K. Dass checks with Suzie Wang, Head of Content Distribution, Mediacorp Studios about how they are serving the rising appetite for drama series across the region.

The ability to watch on-demand as well as in a linear environment means that you don’t have to dumb down the drama for any specifi c audience. Research reveals that audience appreciates complex and complicated stories, so broadcasters are now shopping for something that stands out. It’s amazing to discover what succeeds around the world – there’s a massive variety. And it can come from any country – it’s not just from the U.S. or the U.K. anymore.

As for why OTV Network expressed interest in Mediacorp drama?

Suzie says, “Mediacorp’s content is no stranger to the Indochina region. Audiences in these countries are familiar with dramas like The Little Nyonya which resonates well with the viewers. Our slate of dramas which consists of a variety of genres such as Action, Family, Romance, Thriller and Turn-of Century, impressed OTV Network.

“Our ability to produce a wide variety of genres in large volume is one of the key reasons for OTV Network’s decision to partner with us for their content strategy. They are confi dent that we can deliver quality content regardless of the genres.”

Where there used to be a few potential players there are many now, and in order to give their platform the right USP they need content that stands out and they need shows that are extraordinary. As Suzie puts it correctly from the beginning, “It’s very competitive.” Today you have stronger pay-TV platforms in the market and the sudden infl ux of OTT players slashing subscription rates yet providing more content.

While there’s a lot of competition and demand for unique shows, there’s also a concern about funding. Operating in a fragmented market means that individual players cannot spend big league cash. That’s where a new openness towards co-production kicks in. To share your properties is important in today’s production ecosystem.

AMC’s worldwide hit Breaking Bad is a prime example of a series that has embraced traditional and emerging platforms, with Netflix making the final episodes available in many regions within hours of their original airing.

What trends do you observe in the drama business?

“We see co-production as an emerging trend and Mediacorp is actively gearing up to collaborate with regional players to produce high quality dramas. We aim to upscale our production through collaborations and seeking the right partner with the right synergyThis is essential to meet our objectives holistically,” she explains.

You had 500 hrs of Chinese drama sold to Netflix and 400 hrs to OTV Network recently. These exports are testament of Mediacorp production quality. What is your take on this?

“We enjoy a strong foothold in Asia as we also have ongoing bulk deal in Cambodia, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. Our dramas have a huge audience following and our artistes are recognised in these territories.

“These are not overnight successes as our production teams are constantly improving the scripts, storytelling skill, fi lming techniques, equipments and implementing technology in every aspect to maintain the quality of our content,” claims Suzie.

Indeed, it’s a testament to the Singapore terrestrial broadcaster that there’s always been a regional appetite for the nation’s content in some shape or form. Not bad for a country that in the past has relied on imported product to fill its schedules.

But the consensus among distributors and producers these days is that demand for content from Asia has never been higher. Many distributors are now ramping up their strategies in Asia, which is becoming an increasingly important market for sales. Mediacorp’s distribution success coincides withthe huge market that’s undergoing rapid change and development. The broadcaster’s use of talent wisely has really worked well and that’s another contributing ingredient to its success.



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