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CASBAA Convention Brings Together the Biggest Wave Makers in the Broadcast industry

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MUMBAI: The annual CASBAA Convention kicked off today in its new home at the Intercontinental Hotel, Hong Kong. The two-day convention, 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 today. With the introduction of OTT and digital broadcast services now an established fact, key themes of the day focused on creating quality and relevant content, as well as localization, agile distribution and protection of content.

To kick-start 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 highlighted that the HK SAR government believes that investing in creative talent is key to driving growth of the creative industries and so launched the Create Smart initiative which supports students in tertiary education focusing on TV or media studies.

The AOL Digital Prophet David Shing, then looked at content consumption from the audience perspective, highlighting how humans were at the heart of everything and that “technology changes behavior not needs” when looking at the key developments in the digital landscape. Also in a world where people are creating and publishing their own content, it’s important to note that “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 detail on the company’s new global Viu OTT platform, announced just yesterday. 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.” Mike Hyun-dong Suh of CJ E&M 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. Greg Beitchman from CNN International discussed the need to have content that worked across all their screens and that this was meeting with success. “Digital touchpoints are enhancing our appeal rather than cannibalizing what we do on TV,” he commented. CNNI also commented on localization, highlighting how it had helped make them “more, not less, relevant.”

Alon Shtruzman from Keshet Media, creator of Homeland and other key global formats, maintains 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 doesn’t work in the market.

How to engage with fans with content was discussed by Victorious CEO Sam Rogoway,  who believed their 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, who’s company is investigating the feasibility of launching 4,000 satellites into space with a view to connecting people in remote areas throughout the planet.

SeaChange CEO Jay Samit took a hard line on the future of the pay TV business “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’s possible to work out who's 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 bottom line 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 Mark Mulready of Irdeto showcasing just how difficult it is to distinguish legal from illegal content sites. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit example from the UK, where an infringing website list of illegal websites is published and flagged to advertising brands, was flagged 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. It was also agreed that it was everyone’s responsibility - whether channel or creator - to protect the value of content. Are Mathisen from Conax AS encouraged all content owners to embrace new technology to combat content theft.

With piracy followed the issue if regulation where Ajit Pai from the US Federal Communications Commission and R.S. Sharma from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India both agreeing that governments should take a less restrictive approach to regulation to allow new business models to take shape.

A video note from UK actor and writer, James Corden, now host of the US The Late Late Show, concluded today’s session at the convention. 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 emphasized the importance of a great creative team and 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’s 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.

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