Giorgio Stock, the president of distribution and ad sales for EMEA and AsiaPac at WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks, discussed the consolidation of the HBO and Turner businesses in the region and the importance of franchise management in his keynote at the ATF Leaders’ Summit in Singapore today.
Stock was interviewed on stage at the Sands Expo Center by Rob Gilby, the CEO and founder of Blue Hat Ventures, for the keynote, titled “Scaling Up to Go More Local.”
Stock referenced recent remarks by AT&T’s Randall Stephenson that compared HBO to Tiffany, quipping “that makes WarnerMedia the LVMH of the entertainment industry. It has such a vast portfolio. Those brands have a few things common. They resonate with passionate fans across the world. [Audiences] know they can expect stories that are not predictable, that are talent-driven, that create new, trendsetting ways of telling narrative stories.”
Across the portfolio, a key focus has been on making sure the brands live on all the platforms consumers are engaging with today in linear and digital, particularly at Cartoon Network. “And it’s about doubling down on local content,” Stock said. HBO Asia, for example, has doubled its slate of original content in the region.
On the potential in AsiaPac, Stock said, “We have very fertile ground on which to build,” given the level at which the company’s brands resonate with audiences in the region. “Across the board, I see a spirit of enterprise, [a large] youth demographic, a propensity to use technology and an aspiration for a better tomorrow. That creates an amazing opportunity for us.”
Gilby then asked Stock for his perspective on the streaming landscape and WarnerMedia’s approach to that space in AsiaPac. “We see more and more audiences choosing to consume content on their devices when and how they want. We need to cater to those needs.” The company also needs to cater to the needs of its “traditional audiences on linear. I always talk about the linear business as a melting iceberg, not a melting ice cube. This is a very long process. There are still hundreds of millions of consumers who enjoy linear content and the total consumption model that platforms afford to them.”
The company’s strategy for AsiaPac includes authenticated apps for its linear channel brands as well as the continued expansion of HBO GO as a standalone service.
The conversation then shifted to local content. “It’s something we’ve started to scale in the last few years. This year between Europe and Asia we’ll have roughly 26 dramas and comedies. That’s probably three times what we did a few years ago. You’ll see that ramping up.”
Likewise in the animation space, there will be more original series for Cartoon Network, with India a key area of focus.
Asked about properties like Tuzki and We Bare Bears, Stock noted that franchises are more important than ever, globally and regionally. Tuzki originated in China as a WeChat emoticon and has since been developed further with short-form content, a Chinese drama series called Second Time is a Charm and a movie in development. “It’s about launching, building and sustaining this character and this universe through storytelling. And it’s about building experiences beyond that. We have a theme park that will feature Tuzki. We have a restaurant themed around the Tuzki character. We have apps, games around Tuzki. You’ll see the full portfolio unfolding.”