Metan Development Group has a unique M.O. – to create Western-style entertainment for the Chinese market and to introduce high-quality content from China to audiences in the West. Co-founder Larry Namer tells realscreen how he’s modeling his recently launched company on the evolution of syndication during the ’70s and ’80s in the US.
Just a few months old, content creator and distributor Metan Development Group is already hard at work with Chinese companies and strategic partners in China to bring them content that isn’t easy to develop themselves. The Metan team consists of co-founder Larry Namer (pictured), a co-founder of E! Entertainment Television and a cable industry veteran; Martin Pompadur, a former ABC exec with business and investment experience, and Jean Zhang, the founder of AmeriLink Group, Inc, a business-consulting firm that specializes in encouraging business and cultural collaboration between government officials and senior corporate executives in China and their American counterparts in the US.
Metan’s origins stem from Namer’s time in China, where he was teaching young Chinese television executives the art of creativity when he realized the possibilities before him. ‘In China you have the big national networks that do great stuff and have a global presence, [but] then you have this myriad of TV stations: 3,500 TV stations that are not part of the national network,’ he says. ‘More and more, as China moves towards capitalism, these nations need to have programming that is acceptable and of interest to the viewers and provides a comfortable place for brands to put their ads in.’
He also realized the situation had similarities to the syndication landscape in the US between 1975 and 1985. ‘If you were to take a group of independent TV stations that scoped the span of the United States, you could produce shows for the 200 stations, having budgets that are of a much higher quality.’
So far the group’s slate includes Music News, Sports News, Hollywood News Today and World Film News, just the kind of programming that Namer believes Chinese audiences need. ‘We can provide unique access to Western things but to do the shows from a Chinese mentality,’ he says. ‘They’re hosted in Beijing [and] we can supply elements from the West that are unique and different from anything they can get.’
For instance, Metan’s Hollywood connections can bring a host to the red carpet to do an interview with Tom Cruise, ask the kind of soft entertainment questions that Chinese audiences like, and then throw back to the Beijing studio in Mandarin.
Up next for Metan is further development on fiction and non-fiction projects as well as multi-platform projects. Namer says they also plan on bringing content back to the West, to cater to Chinese-speaking audiences in North America.