Magz Osborne
Oct 4, 2010

Asia’s general entertainment channels ramp up content battle

HONG KONG – Fox International Channels (FIC) Asia’s exclusive volume agreement with Shine International is the latest salvo fired as the region’s rival general entertainment (GE) networks compete for content and audiences.

Masterchef USA
Masterchef USA

For 2011, FIC has exclusive first-run rights for over 120 hours of US hits including Masterchef, Got to Dance, Archer and The Buried Life. These shows will air on both the SD and HD versions of GE channels Fox, Star World, FX and Fox Crime. FIC has also committed to producing one of Shine International’s series formats, details of which would be divulged later this year.

A month ago, Singapore-based Universal Networks International (UNI) announced an agreement signed with NBC Universal International Television Distribution for the exclusive first-run basic cable and satellite rights across Asia to current NBC Universal scripted series.

These include Covert Affairs, which will make its debut in Asia on Diva Universal in the first quarter of 2011, conspiracy thriller The Event and Law & Order: Los Angeles.

Additional series include Love Bites, Outsourced, The Cape, Outlaw and Perfect Couples.

And Sony Pictures Entertainment Networks Asia (SPENA) which operates AXN, AXN Beyond, SET and One in the region, is believed to have almost concluded a major exclusive output deal with CBS Paramount.

The networks claim these exclusive deals help hone their competitive advantage.

Ward Platt, president for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East at FIC, believes that by acquiring these first run shows for its channels, the network will be able to significantly strengthen the bond with viewers and deliver great value to affiliates and advertisers.

Raymund Miranda, managing director for Asia Pacific at Universal Networks International, said its licensing agreement with NBCU gives its channels a further competitive edge among the international channels in the region.

Connie Chan, managing director at MEC Singapore and Global Solutions, agrees, to some extent.

“Yes, exclusive access to the new seasons of these shows does make a difference – but the problem lies with the fact that older seasons of the top shows are not exclusive to the same network. This makes it very confusing for the viewer, because many of these rival channels air re-runs of the same programmes.”

Chan adds that, in her opinion, Universal Networks International has had the most success regarding exclusivity of Law & Order. “To my knowledge, no other channels air that show apart from UNI channel brands.”

Rajesh Mahtani, executive director, strategy and analytics Southeast Asia at StarcomMediavest Group says that exclusive content deals will make a difference in that viewers will follow their favourite programmes. "But this becomes more problematic with those channels that are not in the basic tier, viewers might switch channel but might not subscribe to new channels.

"But as more markets have DVR capabilities, such exclusive deals will have more impact," adds Mahtani.

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