Ahead of ATF, TV Real Weekly checks in with a number of factual distributors about their businesses in Asia.
From Tencent in China betting big on natural-history co-pros to upstarts like iwonder steadily building up a catalog of current-affairs docs for its expanding footprint, the trade in factual content across AsiaPac remains brisk, and distributors are feeling upbeat as they head to Asia TV Forum (ATF) next week.
“Overall, our sales are constantly growing in Asia,” reports Isabelle Monteil, sales manager at ARTE Distribution, citing China and Japan as particularly fruitful markets. China has a healthy appetite for science and discovery shows, she explains, while Japanese broadcasters are keen on history titles. Arts programs are selling well in Taiwan and Hong Kong, Monteil continues, with investigative and current-affairs docs in demand in South Korea. Wildlife is doing well across the region, Monteil says, mentioning the slew of sales on ARTE’s 700 Sharks. “The documentary sold almost everywhere in Asia, including Japan, China and Hong Kong.”
Federica Rossi, senior sales executive at TCB Media Rights, lists China, Hong Kong and South Korea as some of the company’s best markets in AsiaPac. “We have a rich catalog of history and military programming, which works very well in the region.”
Gusto Worldwide Media, meanwhile, has built up a steady business for its slate of cooking shows, with the brand-new Cook Like a Chef a key highlight at ATF. “We’re bringing both the series and the format to ATF,” says Chris Knight, the company’s president and CEO. “Audiences, especially those who love the food genre, are sophisticated and they’re looking for our style of programming with high production values, diverse cuisines and passionate hosts. But they’re also looking to experience Gusto beyond their screen, and we’ve created a marketing package for online engagement by offering our series with short-form videos, original recipes and high-resolution photography.”
Beyond program and format sales, channel expansion opportunities are also on Knight’s priorities for the market in Singapore. “Gusto’s library is massive with over 500 hours of propriety content and we have hundreds of hours of programming with Mandarin subtitling. We’re looking to launch our channel Gusto TV in new territories and we’re offering bespoke feeds with custom lineups available in multiple languages through subtitling and dubbing services. We’re also seeking co-production partners in territories where Gusto TV is available to create localized content.”
Co-production is an area several producers and distributors are pursuing. ARTE, for example, has on its slate Leonardo’s Rediscovered Masterpiece, co-produced with NHK, “which is performing well throughout the region,” Monteil says. “We’re also excited to introduce a brand-new project, Operation Planet 9, which will follow the groundbreaking discovery of the ninth planet at the edge of our solar system. It will be introduced at ATF and we’re looking forward to welcoming Asian partners on board.”
Monteil is keen to expand ARTE’s business in Southeast Asia and build on its growing trade with OTT platforms. She is also looking out for Asian-originated projects that could be added to the company’s distribution catalog. “This year we acquired from KBS a series called Journey on Foot. It was a great opportunity to collaborate further with our partners at KBS and a great success in terms of sales.”
Rossi at TCB has her eye on the Philippines, “particularly in the VOD space. We have also noticed some interesting opportunities in India opening up; it’s an exciting territory.” Across the region, meanwhile, “We hope to move more into the VOD platforms,” Rossi explains. “This is where a younger generation, especially in China, is consuming TV. We think with shows such as Rich Kids Go Skint, which is getting a huge following already through YouTube, we can successfully reach this vital younger audience.”