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India, South Korea Lead Surge in Asian Production, Rights Spending

Spending on film, TV and online video content in Asia grew by 12% in 2018, a significant leap from 8% the previous year. The strongest growth came from India and South Korea, with Indonesia and Vietnam following.

Data from the latest edition of Asia Video Content Dynamics, published by research and consultancy firm Media Partners Asia, show production and rights spending collectively reaching $10 billion last year in India, South Korea and Southeast Asia. The acceleration reflects “rising competition for audiences and production talent,” the report said.

Spending in India leaped by 24% last year, reaching $3.6 billion. “This surge reflects a major outlay on premium sports rights in 2018, including a big price increase for IPL cricket, supported by continued growth and competition in TV, especially among regional languages outside the Hindi heartlands,” the report said.

Online video budgets passed $500 million in 2018, propelled by Amazon and Netflix, which have earmarked India as priority global markets, as well as local platforms led by Star India’s Hotstar, now owned by Disney.

But the report warned that new regulations on bundling and capping channel pricing are slowing the growth in India this year.

South Korea, which is busily exporting content to much of the region, grew by 7.2% to $3.2 billion in 2018. It was lifted by “increased investment on movies and pay-TV content in particular, characterized by rising film production costs and ever-improving production values.” South Korea has more balanced competition between TV majors, helping foster creative diversity. The country’s online video sector is underweight, due to a thriving TVOD market that captures a large slice of audience time and spend. The report noted that Netflix is starting to drive production growth in South Korea’s online video sector, however, with an eye on local, regional and global distribution.

Southeast Asia was more mixed. Indonesia and Vietnam displayed double-digit growth, but spending in the Philippines fell because of declining TV audiences, and in Malaysia, where revenue pressures are hitting Media Prima, the free-to-air incumbent, and Astro, the country’s biggest broadcaster.

“Falls in TV viewership have been especially pronounced in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, largely precipitated by digital competition as viewers flee marginal TV channels. Viewing data suggests that popular TV channels are relatively well-insulated from online video competition, at least for now,” said the report’s author, Media Partners Asia VP Stephen Laslocky.

“Investment in online video content continues to scale, up 60% in aggregate to reach $858 million across the seven surveyed markets, powered by rapid growth in India, boosted by Amazon, Hotstar and Netflix in particular,” said Laslocky.

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