Bomanbridge Media’s Sonia Fleck

Sonia Fleck, CEO of Bomanbridge Media, tells TV Formats about her new lineup and weighs in on what local platforms are looking for.

One of Asia’s leading independent content distributors, Singapore-based Bomanbridge Media has been catering to channels and platforms across the region with a broad mix of programming, from a large selection of factual and kids’ fare to drama, movies and more. Formats have long been a part of the company’s slate, but its strategy in this space has shifted recently in response to changes in the market.

***Imagen***TV FORMATS: Tell us about Bomanbridge’s overall format business.
FLECK: Bomanbridge Media has in the past distributed a large variety of formats from production companies all over the world, always with the focus to license them within Asia-Pacific territories. This year, the decision was made to cut back and discontinue distribution efforts on format themes that simply do not work well. Formats require a lot of time, energy and creative collaboration. We want those efforts to be efficient and focused. Observational reality series, for example, frankly have a low resell value in Asia. Other genres, such as dance competitions, are also not strong on the list of successful themes to localize. The company is, therefore, tightening our focus to carry formats that are suitable for Asian tastes. We are now focusing almost entirely on game-show studio-based formats, beauty and “inspirational” competition, as well as a curated selection of other talent-based competitions. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we have begun very aggressively picking up formats that have a strong digital angle. Whether it be linear channels or nonlinear platforms, a smart digital angle can provide a beautiful opening to additional revenues for our clients. In addition to this new line of format acquisitions, we have equally begun developing our own formats and shall be launching a couple of them at MIPTV 2018. In short, we would rather have a small and powerful format catalog, versus a large but encumbering one.

TV FORMATS: What formats are you showcasing, and why do you think they fill a need in the region?
FLECK: Bomanbridge Media has entered into a distribution partnership with Gamingzone Entertainment (GZE) to represent the world’s first live eSports reality format, Gamerz, originally launched in the Nordic territories. With the global popularity of eSports increasing at a rapid pace—targeting to reach almost 600 million by 2020—it is an exciting opportunity to bring this highly popular content to Asia. This series is structured to generate drama, education and engagement, while giving participants a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to train together with world-renowned professional gamers. Gamerz is an extremely attractive format as it wraps the staple reality-entertainment format component in with the lucrative online gaming market. Asia represents the majority of gaming participation and actual revenue, which makes this a great opportunity for channels and online platforms that would like to explore an entertainment program that allows a more accessible mainstream approach. We’ve had an overwhelming response to this program and are currently in negotiations with multiple parties in the region.

Bomanbridge is [also] bringing to ATF the format The Fashion Hero, created by Beauty World Search. This global digital beauty and modeling movement offers a phenomenal online participation that adds a very attractive component to the TV series. The concept of “real beauty” is a global trend fuelled by social media and our broadcast platforms can have an exciting interaction with the public while also getting a great show that will drive viewership. This show can be digitally lucrative and a channel success. I think the combination of stylish, unique, individual empowerment, wrapped in the tale of modern fashion, is a very positive and rapidly spreading online movement. This fresh approach will be appealing to brand sponsors and young audiences alike. A deal was recently done with Amazon Prime in the U.S. and the U.K. and we have received a lot of interest in it for Asia as well, both with online platforms as well as channels.

TV FORMATS: What are some of the trends you’re seeing in terms of format acquisition in the region? What kinds of formats are broadcasters looking for?
FLECK: The formats that give the channels bang for their buck, allow them to recoup their production costs and garner ratings, are game shows, entertainment, scripted drama and singing competition shows.

TV FORMATS: What potential do you see for branded-entertainment formats, and is this a growing area of the business?
FLECK: I have mixed feelings on this. At a certain moment in Asia, about two years ago, we thought branded content was coming in a big way. We have since then seen a reduction in clear branded programming. I think broadcasters struggled with getting the advertising-driven format to provide authentic entertainment. It’s a delicate balance, and branded content really needs to tell the brand’s story. Otherwise, the brand cannibalizes the entertainment. I do not think this is being done yet to perfection, and frankly, not every show is meant to be “branded content.”

TV FORMATS: What are your expectations for your format business in Asia in 2018?
FLECK: As mentioned, I believe less is more. With the strengthened focus on the themes of our formats, we expect that we will see a much stronger success record in the next fiscal year. Our digital formats have had a really strong interest level, and we are closing several deals in such a short amount of time since the launch. It’s very exciting.

TV FORMATS: What are some of your other highlights for ATF?
FLECK: Snack World is a hilarious kids’ series that offers major cross-media money-spinning opportunities through their toys, video games and assorted merchandise. All of this will attract larger audiences. The show’s entertainment approach has a hyper-casual fantasy feel, and it offers total “snacky,” short and in-your-face humor. Perfect for a generation that wants the entertainment now, immediately. The producers, Level-5, have had major success in the past with programs such as Yo-kai Watch. The caliber of their production quality is excellent, and we are confident this will be a great program for channels wanting to capture immediate ratings.

Donal’s Asian Baking Adventure is exactly what our channels are looking for. The show is hands-down a perfect match for the pan-regionals who now want that local Asian flavor. With travels from Japan and Southeast Asia, the show gives a great feel of the region, balancing authentic Asian food perspectives with a western chef breaking ground in popularity in the Asia Pacific.

Bomanbridge is, as always, carefully curating the content offering to capture the local Asian tastes, while also offering programs that can still be of interest to international audiences. Our goal at this market is to really get momentum on the fantastic formats we now carry, such as Gamerz and The Fashion Hero, as well as to begin licensing a number of major Japanese kids’ animation series we will launch at ATF.