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TV Production,China,Sports,SVOD,Regional Broadcasters,Factual

Round-Up: Fremantle, Letv + More



Production house FremantleMedia, home to the Idol, X Factor and Got Talent formats, has decentralized its Asian operations, in a bid to unlock growth for both its local and regional business.

“Localism is everything, and we see this trend right around the world,” comments FremantleMedia’s regional CEO Ian Hogg.

“We are very deliberately empowering our local companies to be more independent, more entrepreneurial,” Hogg adds.

“The word localism applies equally to creativity, production and decision-making.”

Some regional roles have been removed as part of the reorganization, which will see offices in India, China, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand report directly to Hogg.

Asia COO Michele Landy is leaving, with Australia COO Simon Rabbitt taking on her responsibilities.

Asia MD Paul O’Hanlon is taking on a new role of creative director, China, working with new China CEO Vivian Yin, who joined from Star China last month.

The China reshuffle follows a recently signed JV between Shanghai Media Group’s BesTV, China Media Capital and Fremantle.

Glen Sims, SVP of content and production for Indonesia, will relocate to Singapore to oversee creative output and sales for pan-regional productions as director of creative content.

Fremantle’s pan-regional output in Asia includes The Apprentice Asia and Asia’s Got Talent.

Don Keyte, currently Melbourne MD and director of business operations, will also move to Singapore as commercial production management executive, reporting to Rabbitt, the new APAC COO.



Chinese sports media company Letv Sports has secured 1,800 hours of live football  including Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1 and the English FA Cup  as it continues to expand its sports repertoire.

Four key properties  the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), plus the Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL) and the English Premier League  are the main drivers of Letv Sports viewing.

Beyond that, the platform, which completed a RMB800 million (US$128.8 million) Series A funding round in May, wants to diversify into more tournaments as well as events, while broadening its reach onto local satellite channels and specialist sports channels in China.

The company is part of a strategic partnership to bring football tourney International Champions Cup to China, featuring Inter Milan, AC Milan and Real Madrid in 2015.

The latest tranche of football rights forms part of a deeper tie-up with sports agency MP & Silva that includes scope to develop joint projects in the future, currently under negotiation.

The company also announced a tie-up with Manny Pacquiao to create professional boxing leagues in China as part of wider online and offline push to promote and develop the sport.

Letv Sports is a subsidiary of Letv Holdings, whose businesses include online video production and distribution, as well as smart gadgets from smart TVs to internet-linked electric cars.



BBC Worldwide is revising its programming across its factual, entertainment and lifestyle portfolio as part of the launch of BBC Earth, which will replace BBC Knowledge across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan.

Earth represents a tighter factual positioning for the BBC, discarding programming such as Top Gear and Undercover Boss, which make up a significant part of the schedule today.

Undercover Boss will move to BBC Lifestyle, while a new home for Top Gear should be announced soon.

Earth, which made its debut on YouTube in 2009 and is being developed as a franchise, will also feature its own exclusive programming, as well as day and date releases for big budget productions from the UK.

Earth is already present in Asia, via a programming block on Japanese pay-TV channel provider Wowow that launched in May last year.

The brand first appeared as a linear channel in Poland in February this year, before rolling out across other EMEA markets.



Southeast Asian SVOD service iFlix has passed 100,000 registered users, the company has announced, a number that includes largely free period customers in the Philippines and Malaysia and a pay base of around 30,000.

The venture, backed by Malaysia’s Catcha Group and Hollywood investment company Evolution Media Capital, has also secured a US$15 million convertible note from Philippine telco PLDT, which is promoting iFlix to its subscribers.

iFlix also aims to launch in Indonesia and Thailand before the year is out.

Rival SVOD player Hooq, majority owned by Singtel with Sony and Warner Bros holding minority stakes, has launched in India, the Philippines and Thailand.

Global US juggernaut Netflix meanwhile plans to launch in China, India and Indonesia by end-2016 as part of its global expansion plans.

At the same time, in-country telcos are launching OTT services of their own, including Smart and Globe in the Philippines, AIS in Thailand, and Telkomsel and Indosat in Indonesia.

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