Peter Olszewski rounds up the last fortnight in media news from the Asia market.
Cartoon-branded cruise ship coming
In an historic first, cruise liner Cartoon Network Wave is set to sail and will make its maiden voyage from its home port of Singapore in late 2018. With 11 guest decks, this 2,000-guest fully branded ship is the result of a partnership between Oceanic Group, Asia-Pacific’s leading cruise management company, and Turner, the global media outfit behind Cartoon Network. With the ocean as a backdrop, families will enjoy the world’s first immersive Toon vacation at sea, and an adventure with their favourite Cartoon Network stars. Cartoon Network Wave will be docked at the Singapore Cruise Centre and will sail to popular destinations in the Asia Pacific region including Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. Dates and itineraries will be announced soon.
Big changes at South China Morning Post
The South China Morning Post has undergone a significant relaunch to signify its evolution from a newspaper company into a global media company, while paying tribute to SCMP’s legacy as Hong Kong’s paper of record for 114 years. The launch includes a redesign of the South China Morning Post broadsheet newspaper and its digital products, as well as a new corporate logo. SCMP is also relocating its city office, and its new premises will take up about 100,000 square-feet of floor area over six floors. Relocation begins this month and is slated for completion by December 2019. Gary Liu, CEO of the South China Morning Post, said, “The new branding represents the future of the South China Morning Post. But even with this evolution, there is one thing that will never change. We will continue to safeguard SCMP’s unwavering commitment to our core editorial values.”
iflix partners with Discovery and also launches Kids Channel
iflix has partnered with Discovery Networks and its all-new dedicated channels will feature programs from Discovery Channel, TLC and Animal Planet. The Discovery deal also includes several localised programs, including wild fishing adventures in Thailand, how to whip up dude food and chicken beauty pageants in Indonesia! Earlier in January iflix launched a new dedicated Kids Channel, with an expanded selection of hundreds of movies and TV series for children of all ages from some of the world’s most popular studios, available to both stream and download.
SPH Radio launches two new stations
SPH Radio launched what it bills as “Singapore’s first and only business and personal finance radio station” on January 29. The English-language station, Money FM 89.3, will not only focus on business and money-related topics, but will also branch out into general news and wider lifestyle topics. This follows the soft launch earlier in January of 96.3 Hao FM, an all-new Chinese infotainment radio station aimed at bilingual Singaporeans aged 45 and above.
Thai owner sells English-language newspaper The Nation
Thailand’s Nation Multimedia Group, which publishes the Kingdom’s #2 English-language newspaper, The Nation, has been taken over by Sontiyan Chuenruetainaidhama, founder of conservative outlets T News and INN News, in a hostile acquisition. This caps a three-year campaign that was opposed by some of Nation’s editorial team, who last year circulated a protesting petition. T News said it acquired the media conglomerate to “rescue” it from insolvency.
Celestial Tiger launches new channels
Hong Kong-based Celestial Tiger Entertainment has launched in Laos and signed new carriage agreements in Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The company signed a launch deal with satellite and DTH TV service operator LaoSAT to carry two action entertainment TV channels in Laos. In Cambodia, Celestial signed a new deal with the Kingdom’s leading provider of cable TV and broadband internet, PPCTV, which already carries Celestial Classic Movies, claimed to be the world’s most widely distributed classic Chinese movie channel. With the new deal announced, PPCTV will also carry KIX, an ultimate action entertainment channel. First Media, Indonesia’s leading cable pay-TV and broadband service, will also now carry two Celestial Tiger Entertainment channels. The company also launched KIX on Vietnam’s leading IPTV service FPT Television, owned by FPT Telecom, Vietnam’s leading IT conglomerate.
Lux lifestyle mag relaunched in Malaysia
Malaysian-based luxury lifestyle magazine Unreserved will relaunch next month as a multiplatform premium media brand, after being bought last year from Redberry by Kassandra Kassim, who was the magazine’s instigator and founder. An inaugural monthly issue will hit Malaysian newsstands on March 8, together with social and digital activation. Unreserved was originally launched in 2010 as the lifestyle supplement to The Malaysian Reserve before being spun off as a stand-alone magazine. After March the plan is for the magazine to expand into Singapore and Indonesia, then hopefully other regional countries, and a partner deal with CNN will give the publication access to relevant international material.
CBeebies series notches up 1b-plus views in China
CBeebies’ award-winning preschool series Hey Duggee has passed the one billion video views mark in China, in just on a year since launching. The series launched in China on Tencent in January last year, then on iQiyi in April and on Youku in May. Other CBeebies content is also proving popular with Chinese kids. On iQiyi, CBeebies content has been viewed over 604 million times since the provider became the first digital platform in China to offer a block of 37 CBeebies titles in May 2017. This comes after iQiyi licensed 300 hours of children’s content from BBC Worldwide last year including Go Jetters, Dinopaws and Sarah & Duck.
New APAC head for Fox Content Labs
Fox Networks Groups’ branded entertainment unit, Fox Content Labs, has appointed Andrew Edelson as APAC Head. His role will be to produce top-rated entertainment, and use it to help brands connect with markets. The Lab works with the Fox IP network – which includes Fox Entertainment, Fox Sports and National Geographic – and Edelson will work on new ways to tell brand stories that attract consumer engagement for brands. Edelson is a seasoned producer of branded entertainment, having helped build GroupM/MEC China’s entertainment unit. Before MEC, he helped develop DMG Entertainment’s branded content unit through producing original branded films and monetising US studio co-productions for the China market.
Myanmar English-language news mag to relaunch as fortnightly
Myanmar’s ambitious weekly news print publication, Frontier Myanmar, will relaunch in March as a fortnightly magazine, with more pages. The company said the relaunch will enable Frontier to create more digital-only content and support its web and social media platforms which, it claims, “have experienced strong readership growth over the past 18 months.” Publisher and CEO Sonny Swe, former co-publisher of the Myanmar Times, said, “We are committed to seeing Frontier thrive over the long term and believe that fortnightly publication better reflects the size of the market for a high-quality, English publication like Frontier.” Frontier Myanmar was launched July 2015 and now claims to average 250,000 monthly readers for its print and digital editions.
Mediaweek Asia In Brief
• CNN International Commercial has appointed Akikazu Izumiya (pictured) as executive director of ad sales, Japan. He will be based in Tokyo and begin his role on February 20, reporting to Sunita Rajan, senior vice president of advertising sales, Asia Pacific. He comes to CNN from Group IMD Japan where he was managing director.
• BuzzFeed has signed an agreement with Chinese technology group Bytedance to distribute its content in China, a deal described by the South China Morning Post as “a rare foray behind the ‘Great Firewall of China’ for Western media as Beijing tightens its censorship of the internet”. Bytedance operates the aggregator Toutiao, which claims 200 million daily users.
• After announcing that it would divest its AOAC business, jobs portal Monster.com sold its interests in Southeast Asia and India – and also interests in the Middle East – to India’s leading integrated business services provider, Quess Corp. Monster.com has a Southeast Asian presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.
• Canadian-based QYOU Media, billed as the world’s leading curator of premium “best-of-web” video for multiscreen distribution, has partnered with iflix to distribute its online videos in 25 global regions, including exclusive locally hosted formats on iflix’s service in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Over 500 million hours of short-form video are watched on YouTube daily.
• Employment ends tomorrow, February 10, for 88 employees of CNN Philippines who, as victims of “rightsizing”, were given notice on January 11. Nine Media Corporation, which operates CNN in the Philippines, issued the notices.
• World Wrestling Entertainment is extending its partnership into a 17th year with Malaysia’s Astro. Astro will continue airing WWE programming, including flagship programs Raw and SmackDown, and run WWE Network as a premium channel.
• Andrew Anglin, publisher of the notorious neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, revealed that he had moved to Cambodia in April last year and holed up in the resort town of Siem Reap, also the Asian headquarters of Mediaweek. But with the heat turned up, Anglin said he has temporarily left Cambodia. In December , Mediaweek reported that the Stormer website briefly found a home in Hong Kong on the regional “.hk” domain, but was promptly removed.