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Round-Up: GMA, KakaoTV, Fox + More



After more than a year of negotiations, plans for businessman Ramon S. Ang to acquire a 30% stake in GMA Network, the Philippines' # 2 broadcast group, have been scuttled.

Ang, who is also vice chairman, president and COO of food and beverage giant San Miguel, was pursuing GMA in a personal capacity.

Discussions between the two parties started as early as January 2014 while GMA was also talking to another potential buyer, the country’s leading telco PLDT.

Negotiations between GMA and PLDT broke down in March 2014, after both parties failed to reach mutually agreeable terms.

Following the collapse of a possible GMA-Ang deal, Globe Telecom, the second-largest telco in the Philippines, has stated its interest in working with GMA.

A Globe acquisition is unlikely however, given its close ties with GMA arch-rival ABS-CBN, which operates an MVNO business with the telco.

ABS-CBN parent Lopez Holdings is also negotiating the sale of its BayanTel telecoms business to Globe.

At the same time, PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan remains keen on acquiring GMA, although a new round of talks has yet to start.

PLDT’s current free-to-air TV venture, TV5, remains in the red and is a distant third in terms of audience share and TV ad revenue, despite significant investments by PLDT.



Sky Deutschland CEO Brian Sullivan is joining 21st Century Fox as president of digital for the Fox Networks Group, a new role within the company, on July 27.

Based in Los Angeles, Sullivan will oversee strategy in direct-to-consumer digital video, while driving growth across a portfolio of products that includes FoxNow, FXNow, Fox Sports Go and Fox Play.

Sullivan will also work with business heads at Fox Networks Group to help develop a global commercial platform that can harness digital opportunities around data, monetization and ad serving.

Sullivan, a native of Philadelphia, returns to the States having spent nearly two decades in Europe in a variety of leadership roles in the pay-TV sector.

Prior to leaving for Europe, Sullivan also held various pay-TV roles in the US, including a stint at Viacom's Showtime Networks.



Korea’s Daum Kakao has launched a streaming video service, KakaoTV, leveraging the popularity of its messaging app, KakaoTalk.

KakaoTV has been integrated into KakaoTalk, offering users short-form video content as well as clips from terrestrial broadcasters and pay-TV groups, supported by pre-roll advertising.

The content is supplied by Smart Media Rep, which aggregates content from terrestrial broadcasters (SBS, MBC), newspaper-backed entertainment channels (JTBC, TV Chosun, Channel A) and pay-TV players (CJ E&M).

Content providers are expected to retain most of the ad revenue.

KakaoTV also enables users to share videos in KakoTalk chat rooms, along with commentary and conversations.

KakaoTalk has ~48 million active monthly users, including ~38 million in Korea. Its second-largest market is Indonesia. 

This week, Daum Kakao also launched a pilot version of Kakao Channel, which enables KakaoTalk users to access content from Daum such as news and Webtoons, a digital comics platform, as well as Kakao services such as KakaoTV and photo sharing service Kakao Story.



Online reality TV show The 15 of Us, a collaboration between China’s Tencent and Europe’s Talpa, made its debut on June 23 over Tencent Video.

The show will also air on Shanghai satellite TV station Dragon TV later in the month.

Similar to the hit series Survivor, The 15 of Us focuses on 15 people from different parts of China who are left on the isolated mountain of Tong Lu.

They are given goals to help each other achieve their respective dreams but must first create a new home, be self-sufficient and earn money.

As many as 100,000 people applied to take part.



After inking a content deal with Asian SVOD platform Hooq in April, Disney has entered a similar tie-up with rival service iFlix.

The deal spans Disney’s content library across its Marvel Studios, ABC Studios, Buena Vista International and Touchstone Pictures brands.

This includes Disney’s ABC On Demand catalog, which boosts iFlix’s offerings with hit TV shows such as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Revenge, Devious Maids, Once Upon A Time and Scandal.

Viewers can also watch old episodes of popular series such as Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, Cougar Town, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds and Lost.

Having recently launched in Malaysia and the Philippines, iFlix will roll out in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam throughout 2015.

Like Hooq, the company is desperate to scale its offering because of high content costs and low Arpus (US$3-4 a month). Both will require significant levels of capital to reach breakeven.

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