The Pay-TV Innovation Forum is a global research programme for senior pay-TV and content executives, developed by NAGRA and MTM, and designed to catalyse growth and innovation across the global TV industry, at a time of tremendous change and disruption.
As part of the programme, we are publishing a series of interviews with leading TV industry executives from around the world to explore their views, perspectives and experiences of innovation. Today, we speak with Anoop Manghat, Director Commercial Strategy and Communications APAC, Fox Networks Group Asia.
What are the key trends and developments shaping the pay-TV industry in Asia?
There are three broad key underlying drivers of change that are reshaping the entire TV value chain in Asia:
- Technology and infrastructure: the take up of fixed-line broadband and 4G mobile has exploded over the past few years. As a result, in high-population countries like India, Indonesia and Philippines broadband and mobile has become more accessible and very competitive, with prices going down dramatically and video consumption changing fundamentally.
- Piracy: growing internet access and a large youth population have in a way underpinned strong growth in content piracy. You can see many Asian markets coming up very high in piracy rankings.
- Significant youth population: a lot of them have grown up in markets where pay-TV penetration has been below 20-30%, with mobile phones or laptops being their first point of access to media and information.
A big positive longer-term trend is a growing emphasis on collaboration between content providers and distribution platforms to address common challenges: How do we work together to attract customers? How do we build solutions so that consumers have seamless experiences across multiple screens? How do we fight against piracy?
You mentioned growing collaboration between content providers and platforms. How are those relationships evolving?
In the past, content providers and platforms used to have more of a ‘buyer-seller’ relationship, which boiled down to a commercial negotiation about price and value proposition. Now we are seeing more partnership-like relationships, particularly in relation to piracy as it is probably the biggest common enemy for both sides. With pioneering initiatives like the Coalition Against Piracy in Singapore, we now have distribution platforms, industry associations and content providers all sitting around the same table and working with the government and regulatory authorities to address piracy, aid consumer education and help drive regulatory change. We’re seeing results from this and it provides a model for other markets to consider.
And how are the commercial relationships between content providers and platforms evolving?
Outside of anti-piracy initiatives, opportunities need to be explored on how best to partner to bring linear and on-demand experiences together, especially for big brands like Fox Movies and National Geographic, and how to provide a well curated and consistent brand experience across multiple screens. In addition, strong strategic partnerships with local platforms and content providers can really bring the brand and content experience to life and drive customer engagement – this could be through local productions, branded multi-platform initiatives, or loyalty drives, for example. In addition to premium Hollywood-quality productions and select local content, our National Geographic experience goes beyond video as it has a powerful social media presence, merchandise, on-ground events, Explorer talks and exhibitions. We work with our partners to bring a 360-degree immersive experience to consumers, creating significant value and brand recognition to enhance the platform partner’s traditional footprint. These types of partnerships are effective and we’re increasingly adopting a franchise approach towards our brands and content.
How important is exclusivity to these strategic partnerships?
There can be a level of exclusivity involved in these partnerships, but it's not necessarily due to purely commercial reasons. It’s more about making sure that both partners are aligned on a strategic perspective for the joint initiative, which involves understanding the brand, aligning on objectives, creating a shared roadmap and clearly communicating with consumers as well as internal stakeholders. These types of partnerships do not typically happen at a product manager or head of sales level, but rather at the chief executive level as they require a certain level of strategic alignment and recognition of value. It's not only about driving customer acquisition and retention, but also about connecting and delighting consumers with a globally resonant and purposeful brand. As a result, the lead times for these types of partnerships tend to be longer as well.
Given that you have recently started offering a subscription video streaming service, how do you see this fit into the overall pay TV portfolio?
We work with multiple partners to scale our go-to-market reach, loyalty and engagement with consumers for our SVOD offerings. Pay TV platforms, particularly triple or quad-play ones, are increasingly working with SVOD providers to bring the lean-forward on-demand experience for their users, particularly on high-demand premium content. Particularly in low-ARPU markets with low credit card penetration, it becomes key to work with telco platforms to reach and retain customers, whether that’s through co-marketing, bundling or platform integration – which you can see everyone from Netflix to Spotify to local video operators doing in Asia. Premium video content providers like FOX can leverage our brands, such as Star Chinese Movies, FOX Movies and National Geographic – which have engaged fans, including millennials, across TV and social – to develop direct relationships with customers and connect them to great storytelling wherever they go. The bottom line is that you have to be where the audiences want you to be, and delight them.
What do you reckon will be the key challenges of launching and running a direct-to-consumer service?
In my experience, it’s an iterative and ongoing process. I think it is heavily underestimated what it really means to implement a B2C model. A lot of pieces need to come together, including re-tooling in-house teams, introducing a data-driven culture, ensuring the right level of investment and senior executive support, implementing billing, payment and collection systems and providing customer support – to name just a few. It's not a switch that you simply turn on, rather it's an evolution that requires a commitment to continuous iterative learning. This evolution has to be quick, but adhere to a certain expectation of the premium quality of the products that we put out into the market.