Festival firsts for Hollywood

Disney, Sony exex pop up at Asia confab

SINGAPORE — A number of majors, including Buena Vista Intl. Television (BVIT) and Sony Pictures Television Intl. (SPTI), were among first-timers at the Asia Television Forum — an anchor event of the Asia Media Festival held here.

Interpreted by some as a vote of confidence in Asia’s recovering economy, for BVIT it’s part of a localization strategy.

According to Steve Macallister, senior veep and general manager at BVIT Asia Pacific, this follows consultation with employees and customers.

“It’s about getting closer to our clients,” says Macallister. “The Sydney office opened April 2003, we now have Seoul, Mumbai, a rep office in Beijing and, of course, Hong Kong — it’s a natural progression.”

BVIT also is excited about South Korea, India and China.

Macallister says licensing program formats is a potential revenue stream for BVIT, which inked three deals at ATF over its Dec. 1-3 run.

It renewed multi-year agreement with New Corp.’s pan-regional movie channel Star Movies for features from Walt Disney, Touchstone and Miramax including “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal engagement,” “Starsky & Hutch” and “Cold Mountain.”

Korean basic cable broadcaster OCN inked licensing deals for BVIT’s “Desperate Housewives” and “Life as We Know It.” Korean basic cable platform CJ Media snapped up BVIT’s “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“These deals come on the back of the shows’ success Stateside,” says Macallister. ” ‘Lost’ also features Yunjin Kim, an immensely popular Korean actress, in her first role in a U.S. show.”

Sony Pictures Television Intl.’s senior veep distribution Asia Ross Pollack was upbeat about the market at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.

“ATF was a well-organized and effective market for us this year. It provided us with yet another great opportunity to meet our clients. With the addition of our sales director, Janet Eng, in Singapore we have expanded our capabilities to support our clients and are able to attend a wider range of regional markets,” Pollack adds.

The amount of face-time and a less frantic pace than the international markets were also positives mentioned by vendors.

For first-timers Cable Ready and Lions Gate Entertainment, the event raised awareness of increased program inventory.

“Outdoor Life Network added about 1,000 hours of finished programming to our catalog” so it’s pretty much doubled, says Sabrina Sanchez, director of program marketing at Cable Ready.

A provider of true crime and medical mystery shows, Cable Ready has deals with pan-regionals including Discovery and National Geographic Channels in markets such as China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

“Around 30% of meetings here have been with existing clients who don’t make it to Cannes for Mip TV or Mip Com,” Sanchez says. “But a lot of new contacts have been made — South Korea is particularly exciting. ATF has really exceeded expectations this year and we’re very optimistic about business in Asia.”

Amanda Cordner, director of worldwide TV sales at Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., has also seen the content catalog double since the acquisition of Artisan a year ago.

“I’ve probably seen 75% existing and 25% new clients across a mix of distributors, pay TV and terrestrial channels,” Cordner says. “The pan-regional operators, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand are all very busy — Vietnam is emerging. Our focus here is Southeast Asia. For Greater China and North Asia it’s the Hong Kong FilmMart.”

Participation was up 30% at the ATF, with 3,500 sellers, buyers and delegates from 400 companies from 38 countries.

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