Waiting for ATF and ScreenSingapore, we asked some questions to Ricky Ow, President, Turner Asia Pacific.
Q1. What are Turner Asia Pacific’s policies for programming and acquisitions selection in Asia?
It typically boils down to three things: our programmes must be the right fit for our brands; they should resonate and engage fans; and use the best talent in the business.
For our kids brands, we have a raft of global, original Cartoon Network franchises including The Powerpuff Girls and We Bare Bears, but we also complement these by creating our own IP developed in Asia Pacific. New projects include Monster Beach and Roll No. 21, as well as Lamput and Bill & Tony.
We always look for character-driven, creator-led animation that makes kids and their families laugh out loud. And to find properties that enable us to localize and build a connection both on- and off-screen.
This content – which is often created as games, micro-shorts, shorts and full-length episodes – fits perfectly on both the TV channel and other platforms such as our websites, YouTube channels and on our app Cartoon Network Watch and Play.
On the US entertainment front, we focus on must-watch programming for Warner TV. We have some of the hottest Hollywood shows and films produced by Warner Bros.
On the Asian side, Oh!K, our Korean entertainment channel in Southeast Asia, is home to some of the latest and hottest shows through our output deal with MBC, a leading Korean network.
While in Japan, we produce hundreds of hours for our Japanese travel offerings TABI Channel and Tabi Tele, as well as our male-skewing brands MONDO TV and Mondo Mah-Jong TV.
Q2. How do you expand global IPs into domestic markets?
By adopting a 360 approach and localizing content and experiences.
For animation, we invest in dubbing, subtitling and “transcreation” which is where we ensure that the translation of the humour and dialogue truly matches the original. This is an important step to make our shows more relevant to local audiences.
We also adopt a 360 strategy to fan engagement. We work hard to ensure our content is easily available wherever they may be, but also to really enable them to “live” the franchise. That could be through a pop-up café or at an experiential event, play a game or when they buy merchandise at a regional retailer such as Miniso.
Increasingly we’re also expanding our IP in local markets through location-based entertainment such as the award-winning Cartoon Network Amazone waterpark in Thailand. We’ve recently announced plans for another Cartoon Network entertainment park in Bali as well as the world’s first Cartoon Network-themed cruise ship which will sail to major destinations across Asia Pacific.
In China, our Cartoon Network originals are now seen on all major streaming platforms and this is helping our licensing and merchandising efforts. Ben 10 and We Bare Bears were awarded amongst the top-10 franchises at the recent China Licensing Expo while The Powerpuff Girls won in the Animation category of the Shanghai TV Festival 2018.
Q3. In your opinion, what are the main trends for TV programming that are emerging from Asian territories?
I’ve witnessed an increase in quality of Asian TV across the board – but particularly in scripted content. At the same time as investment and production values have amplified, there is a deluge of interesting and diverse stories waiting to be told.
It’s a great time for both viewers – who can really appreciate these relatable and uniquely Asian projects – and for the growing talent pool around the region. Many studios and creators now feel that they can work without so many restrictions and can experiment more. For example, shows are being made at different lengths and quantities to satisfy different kinds of watching habits.
The significant investments that are now being made into producing more Asian content has also thrown the spotlight on the importance of fostering talent and encouraging fresh stories to tell.
Q4. What is your main focus for attending ATF this year? How do you think ATF is crucial for the TV and entertainment industry?
ATF has cemented its position as one of the most important events on the global industry calendar to buy and sell TV content. Personally, I love attending to catch up with existing partners and meet new creative talent.
ATF is part of the Singapore Media Festival, as is the Asian Creative Academy Awards (AAA) for which I am the chair. This year, I will be participating on a panel at ATF in this capacity with the aim really of shining the spotlight on the incredible amount of quality content that is now being produced.
In addition to celebrating deserved success, AAA also has a commitment to supporting the Asian content industry by conducting masterclasses, workshop and seminars. Giving back and helping develop the next generation of professionals is something I’m very passionate about. I hope to encourage others in the industry to do so as well.