Betting Big on Vernacular Content

GOING LOCAL

Betting Big on Vernacular Content

Major online video platforms set sights on vernacular content as appetite for local and regional titles increases. 'Local is a very, very big category,' executive director and co-founder of Media Partners Asia Vivek Couto shares his insights.

When it comes to content, Hollywood titles have, for a long time, dominated the library of operators.

But that might come to an end with increasing demand for fresh and differentiated vernacular content across the Nusantara and ASEAN region.

"Asian (content) is definitely continuing to grow, led by Korea, China and India," says Couto at Comma 2017.

"The Hollywood or international category commanded 60 to 70 percent of content demand a few years ago. But that is coming down. The Asian and premium local category is going up."

The Asian quotient is growing substantially, led by Korean content - Couto

Without a doubt, series like HBO's Game of Thrones or Netflix's House of Cards are still incredibly popular among Asian audience but an increasing appetite for vernacular content is pushing content players to rethink where to put their money at.

You need true competition to make the best local content and the Koreans have that. But most importantly, you need marketing and distribution - Vivek Couto

Leading the effort, homegrown local platforms have intensified rolling out over-the-top (OTT) offerings that showcase their dramas, local and vernacular content, such as iWant TV in the Philippines, Astro On the Go and Tonton in Malaysia and Toggle in Singapore.

This as the fight for Southeast Asia subscription video on-demand space heats up among the likes of Netflix, Iflix and Hooq.

'In Indonesia, for instance, about 80 percent of Hooq and 50 percent of Iflix content is already local or Asian.'

'Top international movie in Indonesia will account for about 150,000 minutes streamed. Big local movies - three months out of box office release, reaches 1.3 million,' says Couto, driving the point home on rising demand for local content.

Korean titles, he noted, have been able to drive demand for premium content, fueled by the rise of Korea's pop culture - and helped in no small part by the government's concerted effort and funding to promote its cultural economy globally.

'You need true competition to make the best local content and the Koreans have that. But most importantly, you need marketing and distribution. You need to know how to sell and both Korea and Hollywood have that.'

Apart from Korea, Couto adds that content from Thailand is one to watch out for.

Thai content is slowly getting to that premium content category - Couto

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