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Home > Perspective


The Eastern angle

By Richard Middleton 06-12-2016

Think of the world’s biggest television markets by population and the chances are Indonesia won’t figure in your thoughts.

Yet there it is, sitting behind China, India and the US, with a population of a quarter of a billion people, a GDP growth rate of around 5% and clear potential that has most recently lured in that most confident of TV operators, Vice Media.

The company’s bullishness about its imminent launch in the country – described by Vice co-president James Schwab as a “no brainer” – reflects the territory’s youthful audience and its increasing penchant for video content, while some juicy domestic stories will also, no doubt, make their way on to its global services.

Indeed, as those attending the Asia Television Forum in Singapore this month will likely find out, broadcasters and producers from across South-East Asia are fast becoming the targets not just of Western companies selling in, but European and US players looking to get hold of Asian IP.

South Korea remains top dog in this regard, and with Chinese regulators shifting the goalposts again to the detriment of international formats, Korean firms like CJ E&M are now broadening their horizons to make the most of regional and global demand.

Coproduction deals, joint ventures, format arrangements and memorandums of understanding are the modus operandi of Western producers and distributors, with the likes of Endemol Shine Group, Keshet International, All3Media and FremantleMedia all keen to grab a piece of the action.

It’s a similar story among Asian telecoms operators, which are shifting their strategies to power streaming services. The idea is to ensure customers gobble up data so they can be kept in the telco’s pocket, but just how they will compete with the likes of Netflix, which arrived in the region last year, remains open for debate.

Deep pockets will certainly be key but delivering creative programming tailored to the region’s diverse viewership could be the deciding factor, reflecting the promise of Asia’s local production expertise on a domestic, regional and global level.

today's correspondent

Richard Middleton Senior reporter
Middleton, Richard PERSP

Richard Middleton is a senior reporter at C21Media. Based in London, he covers the global TV industry for, C21 International, C21Kids and Drama Quarterly.

Before joining the company in 2013 he worked as a reporter and sub editor for BBC Online and has freelanced for publishers around the world including Trinity Mirror, Fairfax Media, Reed Business, DMG Media and The Independent.