The rise of new OTT platforms in Southeast Asia has made content distribution and story development much more data driven, according to media executives at the Asian Television Forum in Singapore.

Anna Burdin, of Chinese OTT platform iQiyi, described a content landscape vastly different from the previous years.

“In the golden days of pay-TV, the pay-TV operator would sign a contract [with the telco], disappear for three years, and then come back for more money,” said Burdin. “OTT is much more complex. We are having weekly by weekly reviews with partners.”

Burdin went on to explain how real-time data, in the form of user retention, sales channels and subscriber reactions to marketing plans fed into distribution decisions, including which programs were included in the free ad-supported segment of the platform, and which were put behind their paywall. Many OTT platforms in the region operate such hybrid business models, combining dual free and premium tiers.

Hari Vijayarajan of Asian MMA promotion ONE Championship, touted the company’s 15-person strong in-house analytics and insights team as having opened up new partnership channels with sponsors.

“We know, for example, how likely our fans are to travel, so we go and work with brands like Marriot. We understand, for example, how many times a week our fans like to order in, so we work with Foodpanda. [The data] is very valuable to them,” he said.

The MMA promotion has also recently moved into organizing esports events, a move Vijayarajan ascribed to the company’s “data-driven methodology.” The ONE esports DOTA2 Major attracted 275 million viewers online.

Angeline Poh of Singapore state broadcaster MediaCorp pointed to collaboration with online social reading platform Wattpad as an example of such data-centric story development. The broadcaster recently premiered the TV series “The Cutting Edge,” its second adaptation of a Wattpad story. Its first, 2019’s “Slow Dancing” came from a Wattpad story that had 9.5 million online reads.

“Every commission is a bit of a bet. Letting the data help us mitigate some of the risk is always good,” said Poh.