ATF 18: HBO, Turner execs discuss exporting Asian content

SINGAPORE – The recent spate of consolidation and a fast-changing digital space were top of mind Tuesday (Dec. 4) as leading executives throughout the Asia Pacific region sat down to ...
December 4, 2018

SINGAPORE – The recent spate of consolidation and a fast-changing digital space were top of mind Tuesday (Dec. 4) as leading executives throughout the Asia Pacific region sat down to discuss their strategies of ensuring local ground is not lost in translation.

At the “Market Leaders: Managing Change in a Dynamic Market” session at the Asia TV Forum & Market in Singapore, panelists Ricky Ow (pictured left), president of Turner Asia Pacific; and Jonathan Spink (right), CEO of HBO Asia, discussed how the global marketplace has reacted to Asia as a television content hub while attempting to pinpoint the secret sauce for attaining global audiences.

Over the past year, the television market in South East Asia has grown by 7.2%, said moderator Howie Lau, chief industry development officer at the government-run Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Asia has always been a burgeoning region for storytelling, with markets such as Japan, Korea and India thriving. As a result, Spink believes there are big gains to be had for Asian content in the Western hemisphere.

“There is now a belief worldwide that [Asian content] is travelling and working very well. International companies like us are realizing this is where our audience and market are,” he said. “We can produce great content that can attract international audiences. This is one of the positives as content travels more easily and freely, people have more access to it.”

“The world likes a different storyteller, and Asia with its rich history has a lot of story to tell,” added Ow. “It’s not been fully tapped yet. My sense is that we’re seeing the beginning of Asian stories going across the world, from movies to TV content.”

The biggest threat facing the Asian market – or all television markets, really – is complacency. Industry players need to recognize that the sands are shifting, but tremendous opportunities remain for companies willing to transform and reinvent themselves.

“We need to focus on the fundamentals and understand that Asia’s not one size fits all,” Ow stressed. “We need to bet on content that works, but with content you win some and lose some – there’s never going to be an easy formula.”

The focus for players like HBO and Turner, as in the rest of the world, must be placed on building a business model with the consumer in mind.

“Consumers are faced with so much choice, but they can only choose a limited number of destinations and so the brand is still important,” explained Spink. “This is where companies like us have got to keep putting a value proposition out that people will accept. As long as people see you as a destination to go to and you deliver people will want in a timely fashion, then you’ve got a success. Starting from scratch today is very difficult.”

The Asia TV Forum continues in Singapore until December 7.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor-in-chief and content director for Realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to Realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.