Byravee Iyer
Sep 16, 2015

Sports Matters: Fox International Channels bids for local leagues

SINGAPORE - Fox International Channels (FIC) is investing in acquiring local content in Asia and hopes to create long-term partnerships with local leagues, Zubin Gandevia, Asia-Pacific and Middle East president of Fox International Channels, said at the opening session of Sports Matters this morning.

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“It is no secret, Fox and Astro together were in a race to get the rights to a local football league in Malaysia," Gandevia said in his opening keynote for the conference, which runs through tomorrow at the Marina Bay Sands. "We didn’t get it but it’s certainly the kind of thing we’re looking at doing."

FIC is present in 14 countries in Asia-Pacific and operates 30 brands. Fox Sports, National Geographic and Fox are the company’s biggest assets in the region.

“For now we’ve put in a fair amount of investment in acquiring local content, such as badminton in Indonesia," Gandevia said. "But the next step is to drive the product itself and develop long-term partnerships like Star TV in India has done with the Kabbadi league.”

While noting that such deals have to make business sense, Gandevia said the company realises an international product can only take it so far. "Ultimately if we want a strong product, we need a home-grown business,” he said.

Commenting on the potential of digital-only content, the Fox veteran said that the company is still committed to the pay-TV model, but sees digital as a medium- to long-term play, especially for sports. “The pay-TV ecosystem isn’t growing as fast as it should, so we have to find new ways to grow it.”

About the network’s overall strategy, Gandevia is focused on putting the consumer at the centre and providing an addictive experience. In line with that, Fox has invested in production capabilities and new studios.

Building online fan bases for broadcast business

During a panel discussion following Gandevia's session, Josh Burack, senior VP and head of TV, media and sponsorship for Dentsu Sports Asia, said the rapid convergence of media means engaging with online fans is crucial to his clients and their revenues.

“We saw with the Olympics that more and more things are moving to the third screen, although our major revenue still comes from the first screen,” he said.

Jacob Zachariah of US-based startup Victorious, which works with digital content creators, stressed the importance of being online for brands. His company is focused on creating mobile platforms for content holders.

He also highlighted the importance of user-generated content. “Fans are leaning in and creating their own content," he said. "So think of unique ways you can leverage the passion from these communities between seasons and games.”

For GroupM’s Josh Black, an online strategy is about objectives and measuring success against it. “Are you driving engagement?" he asked. "Selling a product? My advice to brands is to define objectives and measure against those.”

Charlie Baillie, director of business development for SEA at RadiumOne, said online tracking, if not done right, can be an “annoying experience” for fans. To overcome that, his programmatic company is trying to understand 'dark social' behaviours (sharing that occurs outside trackable channels, such as through email or WhatsApp). “Dark social isn’t something we coined, but we’re looking closely at it. We believe that understanding that behaviour will help us tap into it effectively.”

 

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