Mediaweek Asia: Weekly Roundup

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

Digital arm of Thailand’s GMM Grammy to launch musical TV drama series

GMM Grammy’s digital TV arm GMM25 has launched GMM Bravo, a content creation unit that will invest 150 million baht (A$5.8m) producing TV drama series.
The new unit will use the strength of the parent firm in music lyrics, strong audience target segments and multiplatform media experience.

Chief marketing officer of GMM Grammy Phawit Chitrakorn told the Bangkok Post that GMM Bravo would be a starting point for GMM Grammy’s planned business innovation, with the integration of the company’s abundant music assets providing a new way to present content on digital TV and other platforms.

Ten drama series, each with 13 episodes and inspired by music and lyrics, will air during primetime slots.

Hopefully this will generate about 200m baht (A$7.6m) this year as a part of the channel’s 2016 revenue target of 800m baht (A$30.6m).

The company’s TV business is expected to drive 80% of the targeted revenue with the remaining 20% coming from online, including TV streaming and the Line TV application.

Singapore short film hub Viddsee signs deal with Discovery Networks

Singapore online short film hub Viddsee has signed a partnership with Discovery Networks Asia Pacific which will enable it to expand its video inventory.

Regional viewers will be able to access selected content from the Discovery Networks’ First Time Filmmakers section, which showcases short documentaries.

The service will kick off its new content with five short video features collectively called Singapore Stories, which commemorate different aspects of Singapore’s 50th anniversary.

Charmaine Kwan, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific’s head of products for Southeast Asia, said the short films foster local filmmaking talent and help support the local documentary filmmaking industry.

Philippine TV broadcasters report higher May ratings

Philippine broadcasters ABS-CBN and GMA Network both reported higher ratings for May 2016.

ABS-CBN won the month with a 44% audience share compared to GMA Network’s 32%, based on data from Kantar Media. 

ABS-CBN dominated the primetime block with a 49% average audience share, 18 points above GMA at 31%.

But GMA said that based on data from Nielsen TV Audience Measurement it dominated all time blocks in the viewer-rich “super-regions” of Urban Luzon and Mega Manila.

Thai regulator questions Olympic broadcast rights

Thailand’s broadcasting regulator is challenging the hold a TV Pool network of six major TV channels has over the broadcasting rights to the 2016 Olympics.

The regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, has asked the Universal Service Obligation fund committee to reconsider its 150 million baht (A$5.7m) sponsorship of TV Pool to broadcast the 2016 Olympics.

This follows a letter from the TV Pool to the committee pointing out that Japanese ad agency Dentsu, the holder of the Olympics broadcast rights in Thailand, would not allow anyone to broadcast the games except the six channels in the TV Pool network.

NBTC deputy secretary-general Pakdee Manaves said the USO fund committee should reconsider whether its sponsorship is appropriate.

When TV Pool proposed that the committee obtain the sponsorship, it suggested that all 25 Thai digital TV channel operators would have rights to broadcast the Olympics, that the 25 digital TV operators could use Olympics footage when they reported news about the games, and also that the TV Pool would give the NBTC 2.3 minutes per hour to advertise its digital TV campaign to build public awareness. But Dentsu didn’t agree with those conditions.

English and Chinese newswire launches in HK

FactWire, an English and Chinese language newswire service, has started up in Hong Kong hoping to be sustained in the long term by public subscriptions and from news outlets that pay to run its stories.

FactWire plans to focus on in-depth investigative journalism and on its crowdfunding page it rails against the “pervasive reign of fast-food culture and social media”.

Its founder is award-winning Ng Hiu-tung who has worked at the Hong Kong Daily News, South China Morning Post, and Hong Kong lead broadcaster TVB.

He opted to use crowdfunding to launch the site and in a campaign that ran last September he raised HK$4.75 million (A$835,000), enough to cover the launch and run the service for about 15 months.

Chinese VR firm sets up M&A fund for content production

Shenlinqijing, the Chinese-listed virtual reality firm, has jointly established a merger and acquisitions fund of RMB200 million (A$6.2 million) with an asset management firm in Wuhan city to back virtual reality content producers, according to China Money Network.

The company hopes to combine more high-quality virtual reality content with its facilities and hardware, including virtual reality theme parks, centres and “experience stations”.

The company plans to open 2,000 virtual reality theme parks worldwide by 2017. It will franchise 90% of its planned parks, saying the smallest theme park will cost RMB200,000 to build and require about 50 square metres of space.

Uptick in private investment in Vietnamese TV channels

A new market, albeit modest at this stage, is being created in Vietnam with the launch of TV channels owned by private investors. Earlier this month DTT provider VTC HCM City and View Media JSC launched a new TV channel, View TV.

This channel targets young families and viewers aged 18-45 and features general information and entertainment.

View TV is backed by Japanese TV business group Enter Asia and owned by Huy Huynh, a young director who worked in the US TV industry.

Meanwhile, Harmonic, the worldwide leader in video delivery infrastructure, announced that Vietnam Television (VTV), Vietnam’s leading broadcaster, is using its equipment to support efficient delivery of high-quality content, including premium sports events, via its new live OTT service.

Thai TV personality charged with embezzling state broadcaster’s money

Thai TV personality Sorayuth Suthassanachinda and several others have been charged by the Office of the Attorney-General with forging documents and using them to damage state broadcaster Mcot Plc by embezzling 138 million baht (A$5.3m).

The charges related to the embezzlement case in which Sorrayuth’s company Rai Som and a former Mcot employee colluded to conceal advertising revenue earned by his Kui Kui Kao news talk program from February 2005 to April 2006.

The income should have been shared with Mcot under the program contract.

It is claimed that Rai Som Co paid then-Mcot female employee Pichapa Iamsa-ard about 650,000 baht to conceal the advertising records and she used correction fluid in doing so.

Public prosecutors charged that the defendants falsified 139 documents recording the advertising in the TV program.

In February the Criminal Court in February sentenced Sorrayuth and his employee Montha each to 13 years and four months prison for supporting malfeasance by a government official. Pichapa was sentenced in absentia to 20 years imprisonment. Rai Som was fined 80,000 baht.

Thailand’s pay-TV operator CTH loses EPL bid

Thailand’s second-largest pay-TV operator CTH failed to reach a sub-licence agreement with BeIN Sports to continue live broadcasts in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos of the English Premier League’s next three seasons, according to an unnamed source in The Nation newspaper.

The Nation reported, “The source said CTH could not accept the conditions presented by the rights holder, as the cost had risen by 50% from what CTH paid in a previous deal for these same broadcasting rights.”

Both CTH and Thai rival broadcaster TrueVisions Group were invited to bid for sub-licensing contracts from BeIN Sports, an affiliate of Al Jazeera news agency.

The withdrawal of CTH now seemingly leaves the door open for a deal with TrueVisions. But to date there has been no statement from either party about this.

Rewind hires new revenue and partnerships manager

Singapore-based Rewind Networks has hired Sabrina Mimouni as manager of revenue and partnerships.

Before Rewind, Mimouni was regional distribution manager with Euronews, helping to boost the channel’s regional reach

She will be based in Singapore and her primary job will be to increase ad sales and partnerships for Rewind’s English-language regional entertainment TV channel, Hits.

She will report to CEO Avi Himatsinghani and work closely with Sandie Lee, vice president and channel head, and also with Carolyn So, manager of marketing and digital media.

And while Sabrina signs on, Rewind has signed up a partnership with Asia’s leading e-retailer, Zalora and Hits, kicking off a viewer reward program, Hits Rewards U. Hits’ viewers will receive a discount promotion code for Zalora goodies.

Catchplay launches VOD service in Indonesia

Taiwan-based film distributor and producer Catchplay has expanded its new VOD service into Indonesia.Variety reports that the move follows a partnership deal with Telkom, Indonesia’s leading telecommunication group and number one IPTV service provider.

Catchplay initially launched its VOD service in Taiwan in March 2016 and has content partnerships include NBC Universal and Warner Brothers, as well as regional local distributors and producers, PrimaCinema and StarVision.

Catchplay CEO Daphne Yang said, “According to our research, 60% of the region’s consumers primarily switch to paid on-demand services for movie content; and 80% of that revenue is for new releases.

“In other words, new movies represent 48% of audience’s monetisable attention.”

On 1 June, Catchplay announced that its service launched on Starhub TV in Singapore.

In Brief

•  Singapore Press Holdings’ 30-year veteran, Geoff Tan, has been appointed managing director for the luxury and custom publishing division of the company’s magazine arm.
•  Hong Kong-based Fox, the global flagship entertainment channel that’s part of FoxNetworks Group Asia, debuted its new drama Outcast on Facebook at the same time as on TV. The premiere episode launched simultaneously in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand on 4 June.
•  Bloomberg sources say that Jack Ma, co-founder and chairman of China’s Alibaba Group, has agreed to back Thrive, a new Arianna Huffington startup focused on health and wellness.
•  Singapore OTT entertainment provider Toggle will be providing live soccer action from UEFA EURO 2016 in partnership with Eleven Sports Network. Soccer fans who subscribe to the UEFA European Championship on Toggle will enjoy the matches in true HD quality without the need for a set-top box. They will also have the flexibility to access the matches anywhere on-the-go and on multiple screens.
•  Mediacorp has launched its green initiative Saving Gaia for ninth year. The campaign’s focus this year is on the alarming amount of waste that Singapore generates each year. To reduce carbon emissions, Saving Gaia is collaborating with Singapore’s first carpooling app RYDE to encourage the public to use the app to share a ride and stand to win petrol vouchers and free car rides.
•  A BBC reporter in Myanmar, Nay Myo Lin, has been jailed for three months with hard labour after being convicted of assaulting a police officer while covering a student protest.
•  Thailand’s broadcasting regulator is likely to “look favourably”  on the government’s request for a digital-TV licence to launch a station to promote its grassroots economy policy.
•  Starting this month, advertisers will be able to reach scores of consumers through new digital advertising screens set up in VivoCity, Singapore’s largest retail and lifestyle mall, following a collaboration between VivoCity and SPHMBO, the OOH advertising arm of Singapore Press Holdings, The advertising network in the mall comprises mainly the Mega Screen made up of 36 units of 55-inch LED displays.

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