In their early days, streaming services catered primarily to an English-speaking audience, so they naturally prioritized English content. However, as US streamers expand into more territories around the world, they will need to diversify their programming.
The recent success of non-English speaking series, such as “Money Heist” in Spain, “Lupin” in France and “Squid Game” in South Korea, in English-speaking markets has now broadened the horizons of streamers looking for the next global sensations. .
This trend was certainly felt at the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FilMart) last year. According to the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, FilMart Online 2021 saw an increase in buyers from over-the-top (OTT) platforms and broadcasters, including Watcha in Korea, Cignal TV in the Philippines, Mubi in the UK Uni and Catchplay in Taiwan.
As one of the largest content marketplaces in Asia, FilMart 2022 is perfectly positioned to continue bringing Asian content providers closer to buyers around the world. Among the 677 exhibitors who participated in FILMART Online 2021, 50% of them were related to television, including nearly 100 broadcasters. This year, Southeast Asian broadcasters will be out in force, hoping to sell their content overseas and gain success from their Korean counterparts.
After experiencing robust growth in 2021, Viu, the pan-regional OTT video streaming service founded by Hong Kong’s PCCW Media Limited, will focus more on creating original content by releasing over 30 original productions. In Thailand, one of the company’s key regions, Viu Thailand is promoting “Wannabe,” a coming-of-age musical drama starring “Bad Genius” star Chanon (“Nonkul” ) Santinatornkul. The young actor plays the role of an aspiring rapper who faces the perils of daily life within a rap group. The series will feature a guest appearance from Sunny Day, a member of popular local hip-hop group Thaitanium.
Viu Thailand is also tapping into the growing popularity of LGBTQ+ content in Thailand with the “Close Friend” anthology series. The company is promoting its popular first season at FilMart 2022. The second season is expected to release later this year. At its Hong Kong base, Viu also operates a free-to-air television channel that offers original programming, including dramas and variety shows.
Singapore’s state broadcaster Mediacorp Pte Ltd. offers a list of reality and fiction programs. The four-episode reality series “Inside Maximum Security” is a revealing look at Changi Prison, known for the harsh measures imposed on its inhabitants. Through the perspectives of six prisoners, the series asks why one in four prisoners return to prison within two years of their release, while the Singapore prison system has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world.
On the drama programming side, Mediacorp offers the fantasy comedy series “Genie in a Cup.” The 20-episode series is about an e-commerce mogul whose mind gets trapped in an “AI cup” (imagine “Knight Rider”, but with a cup) after being killed. When his biggest fan grabs the cup, the tycoon’s spirit and the fan become an unlikely crime-solving team investigating the truth behind his mysterious death.
The Philippines’ largest entertainment conglomerate, ABS-CBN International Production and Co-Production, offers several of its long-running television series. This includes “Marry Me, Marry You,” a well-received 45-episode romantic drama about the love affair between a strong-willed woman and a cynical businessman, and the complications that ensue when the three godmothers of women get involved. Additionally, the lineup features “When Love Burns,” a relationship drama about a love triangle that develops when a married congresswoman’s ex-lover comes back into her life. There’s also the 50-episode crime drama “Viral Scandal,” which sees the skeletons of a family come undone in public when an explicit video featuring the eldest daughter goes viral. The three series are broadcast locally on the Kapamilya channel.
Hong Kong broadcaster TVBI Company Limited is promoting “Big White Duel II”, the second season of its popular 2019 television series. Featuring the majority of the main cast from the first season, the 30-episode series portrays a again interdepartmental conflicts and romantic entanglements between the staff of a large hospital. Co-produced with mainland Chinese streamer Youku, this season was partly filmed in Shanghai.
TVBI Company Limited is also promoting “No Poverty Land”, a 12-episode documentary series. Filmed in 10 impoverished regions of mainland China, from the southern rainforest to the Gobi Desert, the show tells inspiring stories of the steps taken in China to help free people from the shackles of poverty. Achieving an average rating of 9.5 on social networking site Douban, the series has proven to be a hit in mainland China, sparking discussions among locals about poverty in the country.
Besides buying broadcast rights, broadcasters in the East and West have also turned their attention to revamping foreign shows for local audiences. This year’s EntertainmentPulse lecture series, which will be held concurrently with FilMart Online 2022, includes a discussion on the localization of scripted television formats and how to balance the taste of local audiences without losing the essence of programs. originals and more.
Jessica Kam-Engle, Head of Content and Development at The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific, will discuss how Disney+ works with leading content creators to bring stories from Asia-Pacific to global audiences. The company is actively investing in content across Asia-Pacific, churning out a growing slate of original series including South Korea’s “Grid” and “Snowdrop,” and landing the streaming rights for the director’s cut of the Hong Kong’s hit biopic “Anita”.