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Casbaa Convention brings together ‘wave-makers’ in broadcast industry

MUMBAI: The two-day annual Casbaa Convention, which kicked off with the theme ‘Making Waves’, brought together key industry players in the broadcast, cable and satellite industry to discuss and debate the hottest topics and latest developments in the industry.

With the introduction of OTT and digital broadcast services, key themes of the day focused on creating quality and relevant content, as well as localisation, agile distribution and protection of content.

On the issue of regulation, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Ajit Pai and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman RS Sharma both agreed that governments should take a less restrictive stance on regulation to allow new business models to take shape.

Earlier, kick-starting the day, Hong Kong SAR government chief secretary for administration Carrie Lam gave an introductory speech where she underscored that the rule of law and freedom of expression were vital to the fundamental strength of the HK broadcast industry. She also said that investing in talent is key to driving growth of the creative industries and that the HK SAR launched the ‘Create Smart’ initiative that supports students in tertiary education focusing on TV or media studies.

AOL’s David Shing looked at content consumption from the audience perspective, highlighting how humans were at the heart of everything and that ‘technology changes behaviour not needs’ when looking at the key developments in the digital landscape. Moreover, in a world where people are creating and publishing their own content, ‘creativity still rules over technology’ as content is now competing with popular culture.

China Media Capital chairman Li Ruigang commented how there was huge demand from China for premium content yet ‘while content is important, there is the need to build up a sustainable system to continue to be able to create more content’.

Ruigang also discussed how key global partnerships such as Warner Bros, Dreamworks, and Legoland were central to CMC’s strategy of establishing a solid content ecosystem. He also took the opportunity to announce that his company is buying the China Soccer League to further advance the company’s content and distribution strategy.

New content platforms in Asia were discussed when Janice Lee from PCCW gave more details on the company’s new global Viu OTT platform, announced earlier this week. She mentioned how the company had to become extremely agile in turning around their content in multiple languages to stay competitive as well as beat illegal content. ‘Windowing has become very important. We get our content out in multiple languages in just eight hours. Historically this didn’t happen, which gave room for piracy,’ she said.

CJ E&M’s Mike Hyun-dong Suh discussed how partnerships were also key to distribution of content, citing a recent collaboration with Japanese app ‘Naver’ as an example. He also illustrated how taking content offline through events was also important to engage fans.

CNN International’s Greg Beitchman discussed the need to have content that worked across all screens. ‘Digital touchpoints are enhancing our appeal rather than cannibalising what we do on TV,’ he commented.

Beitchman also highlighted how localisation had helped make them ‘more, not less, relevant.’

Alon Shtruzman from Keshet Media, creator of ‘Homeland’ and other key global formats, maintained that content is, as ever, ‘king’. His company is starting to look further afield for content and he believes ‘Asia is a goldmine for content’ though not without some heavy legwork in understanding what does and does not work in the market.

Discussing how to engage fans with content, Victorious CEO Sam Rogoway said that the creation of a community of superfans would ‘change the way fans interact and engage with content’. The inception of the ‘passion graph’ would bring together like-minded individuals that would help drive deeper engagement of content, even when there was no new content available.

Distribution of content was discussed by SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell, whose company is investigating the feasibility of launching 4,000 satellites into space in order to connect people in remote areas across the world.

Taking a hard line on the future of the pay TV business, SeaChange CEO Jay Samit said, ‘the pay TV business as we know it is dead. The majority of content is not linear and we need to adapt quickly or die.’

With content now being accessed increasingly online, it is possible to work out who is watching what at home and provide relevant content based on that. ‘Pay TV will be completely data driven,’ he added. ‘With social analytics now shaping content offers, the bottomline is you will go out of business if you don’t know who your consumer is.’

Piracy of content was next on the agenda with Irdeto’s Mark Mulready revealing just how difficult it is to distinguish legal from illegal content sites. The UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), where a list of illegal websites is published and flagged to advertising brands, was hailed as a great initiative to disrupt pirate sites. ‘Through working with the advertising industry, we can remove the incoming revenue to these illegal sites,’ commented Det. Chief Supt. David Clark of City of London Police.

The speakers agreed that it was everyone’s responsibility, be it channel or creator, to protect the value of content.

Conax AS’ Are Mathisen encouraged all content owners to embrace new technology to combat content theft.

A video note from UK actor and writer James Corden, the current host of the US ‘The Late Late Show’, concluded the session.

Corden discussed how he saw his task was making a brilliant hour of TV every night. ‘All we really want to do is make a show that is different and feels fresh every night. If you think about it from the internet first, then you will come unstuck.’

He emphasised the importance of a great creative team and mentioned how they try to innovate with new features constantly to be as entertaining as possible. Finally, when asked if he was tired doing 44 shows a year, he commented, ‘It is a luxury to be tired from doing something you love and always dreamt of.’

Sponsors for the Casbaa Convention 2015 include ABS, Accedo, Akamai, AMC, APT Satellite, AsiaSat, Asia Television Limited, Brightcove, Conax, ContentWise, CreateHK, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, Eutelsat, France 24, Ideal Group, InvestHK, Irdeto, ITV Choice, Kantar Media, Letv, Lightning, MEASAT, MediaExcel, One Championship, Patron Spirits, PCCW, PwC, RTL CBS Asia, Scripps Networks Interactive, SES, TIME NOW, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Time Warner, True Visions, Turner, TV5Monde and Victorious.