Lifestyle programmer Scripps – a relative newcomer in APAC largely focused on building its channel business in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan – is looking to open a new growth front in Australia, following a major output deal and licensing agreement with local broadcaster SBS.
“It’s definitely the start for us, for increasing our business and presence in the marketplace,” says Derek Chang, regional MD for Scripps Networks Interactive.
The deal, to supply programming for a new food-focused channel that SBS will launch next month, also hints at broader opportunities across Asia-Pacific, as emerging digital terrestrial and online platforms heighten demand for targeted content outside the traditional pay-TV ecosystem.
“We are a late entrant in the international arena,” Chang tells Media Business Asia.
“Our roots are in paid television but in certain instances where our traditional point of entry may not be available or may be more challenging, we have to be creative and look for other ways to distribute our content and build our brands,” he adds.
“What you’re seeing in Australia is a manifestation of that.”
In Australia, three Scripps channels – HGTV, Food Network and Travel Channel – are carried by IPTV wholesaler Fetch TV, but the broadcaster has been unable to secure distribution on the country’s dominant pay-TV platform, Foxtel, limiting the visibility for Scripps brands.
More details on the licensing deal with SBS should be revealed later this month.
Chang is keen to see more activity in Australia.
“We are in multiple lifestyle categories,” he says.
“We have a good relationship with Fetch and that’s already helped us get off the ground. Given the amount of content that we have, we will continue to look for ways to distribute it into the marketplace.”
Scripps traditionally commands a lower share of revenue from affiliate fees than its peers, making it easier to incorporate ad-supported revenue streams, especially in markets where pay-TV penetration is low.
The company has also made some bold bets in Europe, taking over one of Poland’s biggest broadcasters, TVN, this year, while reportedly bidding to up its stake in the UKTV broadcast network that it runs with the BBC.
Additionally, a content factory in the US pumps out around 2,500 hours of programming each year, bulking up an expansive library.
Opportunities will vary by market. It may be tough accessing ad markets in Asia, however, with US content alone.
“You want to launch channels that ultimately people will watch,” Chang says.
“If that requires localization, you’ve got to build that into your business model and see if that works.”