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FILMART: Internet aids nonlinear content delivery on multiple screens, maximises value

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HONG KONG: Content creators and producers have highlighted the opportunities the Internet is creating for Asia’s entertainment industry at a panel discussion during the HKTDC Hong Kong International Film and Television Market (FILMART), which ends today at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A premier trading platform for the international entertainment industry, this year’s FILMART welcomes more than 800 exhibitors from 35 countries and regions. A series of thematic seminars led by global industry leaders are held during FILMART, including the 14 March session entitled “Is the Internet a Challenge or Opportunity for the Show Business?” While the expert panel urged the need for transformation and development in order to maximise the opportunities that the Internet presents in the longer term, most agreed there were short-term challenges that are affecting the profitability of film and television houses.

The panel’s moderator Peter Lam, the Vice President of the Hong Kong Televisioners Association, said greater collaboration between stakeholders, a focus on outstanding content and a willingness to experiment would see a more prosperous future.

“Even if, for the time being, they are not making a profit they would like to build and develop for the future,” he told the panel.

To open the discussion, Gu Guoqing, the General Manager of China Film Promotion International Ltd, argued the Internet was another platform for filmmakers and that the ability to deliver nonlinear content presented the industry another vehicle to maximise value and deliver content to multiple screens.

“I don’t see the Internet as such a threat,” Mr Gu said. “Viewers have gone from the cinema to online with 750 million paid subscriptions, online streaming and integrated content. In the Internet age I think that the line between virtual reality and film and television is blurring. The Internet is a factor for change. We can have immersive experiences.”

The Chief Content Officer of iQIYI.com, Wang Xiaohui, touched on some of the ways that the Internet has changed the lifestyles and habits of viewers, noting that there were increasing opportunities to watch content, be it at home, on public transport or sharing content on social media. In order to capitalise on changing trends, the need for good content was increasingly important.

“In the short-term, it’s quite challenging since we cannot make a profit, but in the long-term we can see the promise,” Mr Wang said. “But all in all, content is still the basic way to success. I think the film industry is prosperous but it should focus on good content. We should follow the trend to make our own unique content.”

A discussion on the challenges prompted Akinori Kobayakawa, President, Kyushu Associations of Independent Entrepreneurs, to chart the short-term revival of the entertainment industry. An emphasis on collaboration and on engineering could create opportunities because the Internet was driven by people and was a human machine.

“You need to create a strategy no matter the outcome,” he said. “The current situation can be described as chaos, so what we have to think about today is working against the old common sense. We cannot use the old common sense to adjust to the situation because what is happening with the Internet and the impact of the Internet is unpredictable.”

Joe Suteestarpon, CEO, Mediaplex International, has played a significant role in developing a subscription video on demand service called DOONEE for the Thai market. In working with that country’s 22 traditional broadcasters, they had created a new space for the audience to enjoy high-quality content.

“Everything is on demand and there is no exception for television,” he told the audience. “Right now the client is the one that is controlling the industry. People are still consuming the content but the format has changed. It’s a nonlinear world.”

Szeto Kit, Director & CEO, Dim Sum TV said the Internet had revolutionised his business. He has found that consumers would pay for subscription content, an experience he had enjoyed in his own business. The Chinese mainland was an excellent test bed for a traditional broadcaster transforming into an Internet-based content provider.

“The television industry is entering the Internet age and streaming is completely changing the traditional establishment,” he said. “China is an excellent example of what might happen next.”

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