Zubin Gandevia
May 25, 2017

Now is the best time to be in the TV business

Traditional models of consumption have changed beyond recognition—but viewership is booming, writes Zubin Gandevia, president of FOX Networks Group Asia.

Zubin Gandevia
Zubin Gandevia

While many bemoan the end of TV, for me, the key word is change. Choices that viewers now have about how, when and where they can watch content have grown exponentially. This is a good thing. We now have more opportunities to entertain our viewers with compelling content than ever before.

This is borne out by the numbers: 77 percent of connected consumers across Asia Pacific are still watching on average two hours of TV per day (source). All figures show that television is not slowly suffocating at the hands of online video, rather it is evolving. Television is alive and well—in many more forms. Both production of and demand for great content remain on the rise, and now is the best time to be in the business.

Audiences across Asia are hungry for great content, and increasingly want to watch it across a range of platforms. Digital platforms are popular, but notably, they have not cut into TV viewership. Instead, viewers are taking an “and and” attitude toward their entertainment consumption, watching online videos on top of their regular television viewing habits.

In Singapore, for example, 76 percent of connected consumers watch online video daily, but for the majority, this content consumption is an extension of their existing TV viewing habits—not a replacement (source). It’s a similar situation in the Philippines. Filipinos love TV, and while digital viewership grew sixfold from 2013 to 2015, traditional TV audience numbers have remained steady. Indeed statistics show that in 2016, 96.6 percent of Filipinos watched TV daily, up from 91.2 percent in 2014, and they are devoting 3.7 hours per day (source). Similar to Singapore, rather than trading television for a portable device, digital consumers in the Philippines are choosing both—and 96 percent (source) prefer to engage with two or more screens simultaneously.   

These are just two examples of what is happening across Asia. Consumers are developing a voracious appetite for entertainment, and as they make the move to multi-platform viewing, their craving for more content anytime, anywhere, is strengthening their desire to tune in at home. Whether watching an international sports game live during their commute to work, streaming last night’s season finale of their favorite show, or simply switching on the TV set in their living room, audiences in Asia are constantly seeking more opportunities to be entertained.

With so much entertainment available at the click of a button, viewers are no longer happy to let the content providers dictate what they watch. Instead, viewers want to be in control. They’re demanding personalized entertainment experiences that offer them a range of high-value content to choose from, be it an online streaming service with access to this year’s hottest blockbusters in every genre, or a pay-TV package with a range of channels that appeal to everyone in the family. What’s more, viewers across Asia are happy to pay for it. They understand the value—and the cost—of great content and tailored entertainment experiences. Asia’s pay-TV sector is forecast to experience robust growth, expanding 6.6 percent per year until 2019, according to industry analysts Media Partners Asia (MPA) (source). Premium online streaming services are likewise on the rise.

The shift in consuming content will bring about other important technological advances and changes to the industry. Consumer demand for shortening theatrical windows is heightening, meaning companies like mine must work to premier first-run content at the same time in streaming services as on linear channels. Entertainment businesses across the industry are also upping investment in premium content, and it will be crucial to consider new business models and broader distribution.

In order to take advantage of today’s opportunities, content providers must embrace these new and innovative ways of delivering content and look to continuously upgrade their offerings, provide great content, and put the consumer in control. By marrying the old and the new, entertainment businesses have the unique opportunity to strengthen the ecosystem while at the same time innovating upon it—giving viewers even more of the high-quality entertainment experiences they want, and readying their own organization to meet the future.

Television may be changing, but evolution, if anything, is about adapting and rising to the challenge.

Zubin Gandevia is president of FOX Networks Group Asia

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