Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

Peter Olszewski round out the week’s media news in the Asian market

Psy signs up for cameo in remake of Entourage

K-pop superstar Psy has confirmed that he will feature in a cameo in Korean cable TV network tvN’s remake of HBO’s 2004-2011 hit series Entourage.

Entourage Korea, to air on 4 November, will feature cameo appearances by loads of Korean celebrities, but Psy – real name Park Jae-sang – is the biggest drawcard. There has been conjecture in the Korean media about just how far the local version will go in recreating the drugs, sex and violence of the original series.

Korean business news site gets a robot

The Korea Herald’s online English-language business news site The Investor is now providing articles written by an artificial intelligence writer named Herald Robot or HeRo. HeRo will mainly focus on news about corporate performance, finance and stock markets. It will also monitor changes in the shareholding structures of Korean companies HeRo will initially provide 30 daily articles to The Investor. Later this month Korean-language The Herald Business will incorporate artificial intelligence into its reporting, at first focusing on the stock market before expanding to weather, sports, and entertainment.

Malaysia’s Star Media birthday party

It has been a big week for the Star Media Group with birthday celebrations for its 45th anniversary. The group launched its Star newspaper as a Penang English-language daily back in September 1971 and now boasts divisions covering print, digital, radio, TV, out-of-home, events and training. The Star group is also expanding its footprint into the ASEAN market. Starting with LITV, Asia’s first comprehensive lifestyle television channel, the expansion continues with the launch of ASEAN ePaper, a collaboration with Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and China. As part of the birthday festivities, the newspaper revealed a new layout and a refresh of Star Online. On the Sunday following the birthday, the group held its annual charity Star Walk around the streets of George Town with over 22,000 people taking part. The same day the Penang daily was also able to reveal its remains Malaysia’s top online news brand – ranking #7 overall among web brands in the country, trailing only major local banks, a shopping portal and an AirAsia.com.

Filipino telco in content deal with TV broadcaster

Philippines telecommunications behemoth PLDT Inc has offered to allow one of the country’s largest TV broadcast companies GMA Network to air content from PLDT’s pay-TV arm Cignal TV, as GMA prepares to launch its digital television service. This is seen as another development in telecommunications companies seeking closer ties with content providers to reach more customers. Cignal TV had over 1.8 million subscribers in 2015.

Singaporean mummy blogger in reality series

Singaporean blogger Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue, will star in her own E! reality series, Wendy Vs The World,which premieres on 20 September.

Xiaxue is renowned for her no-holds-barred social commentary, drawing more than 40,000 daily readers on her blog and more than a million followers on social media. E! Asia said the series will document the 32-year-old online personality’s life as she enters a new phase. Scott Mackenzie, vice president of Channels, Asia, NBCUniversal International Networks, said, “Love her or hate her, Wendy’s unique brand of wit and brutal honesty will surely entertain viewers across the region.”

Tough times for South Korea cable TV  

South Korea’s cable TV operators face uncertainty and a gloomy outlook, brought about largely by intense rivalry from IPTV operators. With IPTV gaining popularity, Korean mobile carriers have released bundled products combining their telecom and IPTV services, dealing a blow to cable TV operators. Park Seung-bum, general manager at the Korea Cable Television Association, which represents more than 190 cable TV operators, said that 10 million-plus users in Korea are still subscribing to cable TV services. He told theKorea Times, “We are going to announce our specific blueprint this month to tackle the gloomy outlook cast on the cable industry.”

Disney Southeast Asia integrates departments

Singapore-based The Walt Disney Company South East Asia has integrated all its Disney Channels, Media Distribution, Games & Apps and Maker Studios businesses, excluding ESPN. Longterm Disney employee Amit Malhotra will head the new team, reporting to managing director Robert Gilby. The company said it has combined most of its businesses “to provide best-in-class content tailored for audiences across the region and accelerate opportunities across mobile and social platforms.”

iflix Thai manager emphasises need for local content

Competition is intense among Thai video-on-demand services in Thailand even though the business is relatively new. To gain more traction, iflix country manager Artima Suraphongchai said the company is strengthening its relationship with leading global entertainment content providers, and putting more emphasis on partnering with local leading TV production houses to provide exclusive offers to its members. Recently iflix entered into a deal with the rights manager of GMM Thai Hub’s movies for its blockbuster films including Suck Seed, Bangkok Traffic Love Story, Error, Seven Something and The Billionaire.
The company was also interested in local TV series and already has rights to 13 episodes of The Graveyard Story’s uncut version. The series was originally produced by Kantana Motion Pic,  a member of the mammoth Kantana Group.

Mediaweek Asia In Brief

• Australia-Canadian film Early Winter will be screened as part of the Asian Premiere program at the 10th annual Balinale – the Bali International Film Festival – in Kuta from 24 September to 30 September.

Time Out Singapore, launched in December 2015, has claimed record website traffic for August with 3,613,574 page views and 307,090 unique visitors. This represents an increase of 122% for page views and 64% for unique visitors since launch.

• Philippines broadcaster has sold 1.5 million TVplus boxes since the launch of its digital television service in February last year. Sales were driven by new content, stronger distribution and integrated marketing

• Thailand’s cable and satellite TV penetration rate was 73%, while local terrestrial TV penetration including analogue and digital TV was only 27%, as of December 2015. Thailand has almost 450 channels on the satellite TV platform and 149 on cable TV. Video-on-demand service subscriptions were valued at 500m baht (A$19m) in 2015, and are set to double this year.

• Singapore Press Holdings’ Chinese Media Group has now launched its “upsized” Chinese news and infotainment website under the refreshed zaobao.sg brand.

• The mostly English-language North Korean news service NK News is expanding its Korean language service form its Seoul office and is looking to recruit a chief editor, translator journalist, and marketing manager. Korean and English fluency is required for all positions.

Additional reporting from James Manning in George Town, Penang.

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