Summit bullish on digital advertising

HONG KONG — Robust ad revenues in Asia will underpin efforts in Asian TV biz in coming years, the Media Asia Summit heard this week, with companies putting their money on mobile media going forward.

“Advertising in Asia ex-Japan will grow at 8.4% over the next five years. The outlook for China and Japan is generally very bright,” said Vivek Couto, executive director Media Partners Asia.

Focusing on key online companies like Tencent, Baidu, Sina, Sohu Youku and Renren, Couto sees growing scale across the digital value chain.

One high-profile absentee from the Asia Media Summit conference was James Murdoch, News Corp.’s deputy chief operating officer, who canceled his keynote speech because it clashed with former executives at a company unit answering questions from lawmakers in Blighty about phone hacking.

Alex Miller, advertising manager at Renren, said as of September there were 358 million mobile phone users of the Internet in China, and Renren had 190 million registered users. The first big trend he sees is a big shift to socialized content, to social gaming, to the notion of “frands” where a brand becomes a friend and more social commerce.

Piracy was clearly on people’s minds when it came to issues relating to content and China, and Kun Zhang, veep of corporate development at PPLive, which received $250 million investment from Softbank earlier this year, was asked about his company’s record on posting links to pirated material on the site.

“We spend millions to acquire content. We spent most this year in China this year alone,” said Zhang. PPLive is the largest TV aggregator in China and has 240 million users.

Zhang said that anyone posting pirated material on PPLive would be required to take it down. He conceded that PP Live was fighting lawsuits over copyright issues, but said the number of lawsuits was around 5% of what their competish was fighting.

PPLive has the rights for English Premier League soccer in China and the Wimbledon tennis finals.

“Content is the most important thing, it will be the differentiator. We have our own sports channel. Go fast — once you buy it, no one else can buy it. And technology.

The copyright may not be clear and occasionally things get posted. In terms of lawsuits in Pudong (in Shanghai) compared to our competitors, we are about 5%. This is an opportunity for us in the future.”

Haresh Chawla, CEO, Network18, said India had seen growth in all sectors.

“Given the growth in the choices consumers are getting, the power of the network will start paying off. Consumers will have many consumer choices. In India, we are forced to think about multiple segments and on varied platforms,” he said.

Among forthcoming developments are launch of three channels by AETN18 — History, Bio, Crime & Investigation Network, and Viacom18 is also bowing three channels.

Another major growth area is Indonesia, which is increasingly mentioned in the same breath as China and India when discussing major emerging markets.

Hary Tanoesoedibjo, CEO of MNC Group, said the archipelago’s geography , with a huge population of 238 million spread across nearly 13,400 islands, meant that TV was the best way to reach a wide audience.

Ram Subramaniam, CEO, Mediabrands Indonesia, said growing political openness had driven expansion of the biz.

“Indonesia was a dictatorship for a very long time, and in the recent years people have found a voice, and younger generation becoming more vocal,” he said.

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