ATF: far and beyond

Today ends a new edition of ATF with a very positive outcome and a first conclusion shared by the majority: it is very important to be here. Because of its business volume the APAC region is very attractive, but a second business driver is that everything is about to be done.

If the global industry is changing rapidly, APAC shows the fastest and deepest transformations: not only in digital and technology-based developments, but also in the format, kids and drama businesses. Everything is constantly moving here, and ATF has reflected that move and the future to come… soon.

Most of the panels and conferences at Marina Bay Sands were crowded. It is understandable: the industry aims to know more and more, to have more data to take decisions. There is a thirsty of information and the offers a good atmosphere to discover these trends and to take time to discuss them.

Divided in business segments, each day of ATF offered valuable presentations. The “Leader’s Summit” was mostly focused on digital and OTT; the first market day was about the “content connection”; and the second one for production, formats and kids programming.

Second market day yesterday exhibited again big intensity with full corridors and meetings taking place in every single corner of the market place. ‘The market has grown a lot from the first time I came’, said a regular assistant of ATF, while the newcomers are surprised by the huge content demand and business development in the APAC region.

Formats have been a key topic. The panel “East meets West, new business models to develop Asian format exports” highlighted three main characteristics of the nowadays business: a variety of thematic and origins; developments for every platforms; the importance of the strategic partnerships in developments, production and distribution areas.

‘If you are hurry, Asia is not the place to do format business. It is important to be patient and take your time to find the right partners, assessing what each does better. Time plays a significant role here’, summarized the participants from Nippon TV (Japan), CJ E&M (Corea), ITV Studios (UK) and Red Arrow Studios (Germany).

Digital continues to take the attention. IHS Markit reported that native digital companies drive the APAC OTT market, and that China takes the majority of the pie in terms of subscribers (75%): among the 10 most important Pay TV and OTT platforms, three of biggest are Tencent, Baidu and Youku (+130 millions subscribers).

When China is out of the chart, Japan, India and Australia are the main ones. The first one is a very sophisticated market with more and more players being launched. Pay TV takes the lead, and Netflix was too late in a well-established market, and Amazon and local GYAO surpass it.

The mobile-first market India has become a hotbed for domestic and international players. Local and regional content is key to lead in this diverse market. Here, Amazon and Netflix face fierce competition from strong local players Star’s Hotstar and ZEEL’s ZEE5.

As a key English speaking APAC market, Netflix has seen rapid growth in Australia with an increase in local content. Stan, its stronger competitor reached +1 million subscribers (H1, 2018), and Foxtel Now differentiated themselves because of the local content they produce and offer.

Fabricio Ferrara, from Singapore